Rod “Hot Rod” Kanehl passed away on this date, December 14, 2004 in Palm Springs, California. Born in Wichita, Kansas, he was an all-around player who hustled on every play.
He was determined to play in the major leagues, and his dream came true when he made the expansion New York Mets roster in 1962, Owned by the New York Yankees, he was drafted by the expansion Mets club on November 27, 1961 in the minor league draft.
Kanehl played for the Nashville Vols in 1960 and 1961. On July 17, 1960, he proved that his head was in the game in the nightcap of a double header as he stole home with two outs in the bottom of the ninth against Little Rock. pitcher. Travelers catcher Don ’Stumpy’ Williams failed to ask for time out before a conference at the mound to settle down pitcher Frank Mankovitch, and Kanehl took advantage. Vols manager Jim Turner stated that in his 38 years in Organized Ball he had never seen such a play. Kanehl’s last year in the minors was 1961, as he hit .304 for Nashville.
Although on July 6, 1962 he would become the first Mets player to hit a grand slam, in 1960 in Nashville he would not hit his first home run until August 7th. A favorite of Mets manager Casey Stengel, Kanehl was the only former Mets player who was present at the funeral of Stengel in 1975.