Ken Hubbs appeared to have a bright future ahead of him with the Chicago Cubs. On this day in 1964, that future was cut tragically short as Hubbs was killed in a plane crash.
The Chicago Cubs saw a number of key players reach the Majors during the early to mid 1960’s. Ron Santo and Billy Williams became key parts of the Cubs lineup, while staff ace Fergie Jenkins came along a couple of years later.
Ken Hubbs was expected to be a part of that collection of young stars that would blossom together. He was a slick fielding second baseman with speed and a decent bat, a player that could potentially be the Cubs answer to players like Bill Mazeroski. However, on this day in 1964, Hubbs’ life was cut tragically short, as he was killed in a plane accident when he crashed during a storm in Provo, Utah. He was just 22 years old.
Hubbs had been in town with a friend to surprise his friend’s wife and new child as they were visiting family. That night, Hubbs played in a charity basketball game sponsored by Brigham Young University. They spent the night, and even though a fierce storm was approaching, attempted to get back to Colton, California, that following day. Instead, they were overwhelmed by the weather, resulting in a fatal accident a quarter mile south of Bird Island in Utah Lake.
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Even though Hubbs had a brief Major League career, he still made quite an impression. His overall .247/.290/.336 batting line may not appear to have been anything special, but it was better than the Cubs team average at the time. Hubbs also had a bit of pop, hitting 44 doubles and 14 home runs.
While his offense was a work in progress, Hubbs was a brilliant defensive second baseman. He won the National League Gold Glove at second in his rookie year in 1962, stopping Mazeroski’s streak. Although he did not win the award in 1963, Hubbs improved his range and runs saved, making it likely that the award would have bounced back and forth between the two second basemen.
The 1962 National League Rookie of the Year, Hubbs had a bright future ahead of him. As his offense continued to develop, it was not unreasonable to consider him a future All Star. Even though he never reached his potential due to his tragic passing, Hubbs name lives on. The gym at Colton High School was named in his honor, and the Ken Hubbs Award is given to the best male high school athlete in the San Bernadino area.
Ken Hubbs was a developing star for the Chicago Cubs until his life was cut short on this day in 1964.