Kevin Daniel Elster (born August 3, 1964) is a former American professional baseball shortstop. Known primarily for his glove, Elster broke a 42 year old Major League Baseball record by playing 88 consecutive games at shortstop without committing an error.
|Born: August 3, 1964|
San Pedro, California
|September 2, 1986, for the New York Mets|
|Last MLB appearance|
|October 1, 2000, for the Los Angeles Dodgers|
|Runs batted in||376|
|Career highlights and awards|
Elster was drafted by the New York Mets in the second round of the January 1984 draft out of Golden West College in Huntington Beach, California. He batted .269 with fourteen home runs and 135 runs batted in over three seasons in the Mets' farm system when he received a somewhat surprising September call up to the majors in 1986 with the Mets on the verge of capturing the National League East. He made his major league debut as a late inning defensive replacement on September 2 against the San Francisco Giants, and got his first major league hit in his first major league at bat the following day. Over the remainder of the season, Elster batted .167 with three runs scored. He had one extra base hit, a double off the Philadelphia Phillies' Kevin Gross. He appeared in four games of the 1986 National League Championship Series against the Houston Astros, and game six of the 1986 World Series against the Boston Red Sox. In four postseason at bats, he had no hits.
Elster's bat caught up to his glove in 1987 with the triple A Tidewater Tides. He batted .310 with eight home runs and 74 RBIs, and set a franchise record with 170 hits. Once again, he received a call up to the majors that September. He collected four hits in ten at bats, and got his first major league RBI with a double off the St. Louis Cardinals' John Tudor on October 2. Following the season, the Mets traded incumbent shortstop Rafael Santana to the New York Yankees in order to open the position up for Elster.
New York MetsEdit
In his first game as the Mets' regular shortstop in the 1988 season opener, Elster hit his first major league home run off the Montreal Expos' Dennis Martinez. His batting average hovered in the low .100s through most of April until a 4-for-5 with two runs and two RBIs performance on April 26 against the Atlanta Braves raised his average above .200. He managed to keep it there the rest of the way. On July 19, Elster committed a first inning error that led to five unearned runs in the Mets' 11-2 loss to the Cincinnati Reds. It would be his last error of the season.
He would not commit another regular season error until May 9, 1989, giving him a major league record 88 consecutive regular season games at shortstop without an error, breaking a Major League record set by Eddie Brinkman of the Detroit Tigers in 1972. (Hall of Famer Cal Ripken Jr. would break Elster's record in 1990, playing in 95 errorless games. Elster still holds the National League record, which he broke on April 19.) Somewhat ironically, Elster committed two errors in game four of the 1988 National League Championship Series against the Los Angeles Dodgers.
While his fielding was still solid (he led all National League shortstops with 235 putouts), Elster got off to a slow start with the bat in 1989 (.210 avg., 10 RBIs). His first home run of the season on June 4 signaled a reversal of fortune for Elster. From there, he batted .241 with ten home runs and 45 RBIs.
1989 would turn out to be his last full season with the Mets. A shoulder injury ended his 1990 season on August 3. He came back strong in 1991, batting .314 through the first month of the season, til a groin injury placed him on the injured list on May 6. He made it just six games into the 1992 season before shoulder surgery ended his season. He was non-tendered by the Mets for 1993.
Yankees & PhilliesEdit
Elster signed a minor league deal with the Dodgers prior to spring training in 1993. He batted .282 in ten games for the double A San Antonio Missions before being released. Shortly afterwards, he signed as a Free agent with the Florida Marlins, and was again immediately released. He signed with the San Diego Padres that Winter, but failed to make the club in Spring training. Shortly into the 1994 season, he signed as a Free agent with the New York Yankees. On June 30, he played in his first major league game in over two years. His tenure with the Yankees would last just seventeen games. In which, he went 2-for-37 before his release on June 8, 1995. After which, he was signed and immediately released by the Kansas City Royals. Shortly afterwards, he joined the Phillies. He went 5-for-17 in his short stay with the triple A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Red Barons before being brought up to Philadelphia. On August 18, Elster had a four RBI game against the Giants, and hit his first major league home run in almost five years off Chris Hook. On September 16, facing his former franchise for the first time in his career, Elster went 1-for-3 with a double, walk and two runs scored. Phillies manager Jim Fregosi also used Elster at third and first, the first time he had ever played a position other than short in his major league career.
In January 1996, Elster signed with the Texas Rangers. Originally signed to serve as a backup to Benji Gil, an injury to Gil landed Elster the starting job. He went on to have a career year, hitting a career high 24 home runs in a career high 596 plate appearances. 92 of his career high 99 RBIs came batting ninth, a major league record. He also had career highs in games (157), runs (79) and extra base hits (58) to earn the Sporting News Comeback Player of the Year award. He returned to the post-season for the first time since 1988, and was 4-for-12 with two runs scored in the 1996 American League Division Series against the Yankees.
During the off-season, he signed a $1.65 million one-year contract with the Pittsburgh Pirates. Batting fifth for the Bucs, Elster got off to a strong start. He went 2-for-4 with a double, two RBIs and a run scored to lead his team to a 5-2 victory over the Giants in the 1997 season opener. On May 16, an injury once again ended Elster's season when he broke his wrist in a collision with Marlins second baseman Kurt Abbott on a sacrifice bunt. After the season, he re-signed with the Rangers. He was batting .232 with eight home runs and 37 RBIs when the Rangers acquired All-Star shortstop Royce Clayton from the Cardinals at the July 31 trade deadline, and released Elster. Elster chose to retire rather than try to sign with another team.
Los Angeles DodgersEdit
After sitting out the entire 1999 season, Elster was lured out of retirement by former Mets manager Davey Johnson, now managing the Dodgers. He won the starting job at short, and on April 11, 2000, in the first game played at Pacific Bell Park in San Francisco, Elster hit three home runs. Despite these early heroics, he eventually lost the starting job to prospect Álex Cora. Elster batted .227 with fourteen home runs and 38 RBIs in 2000. After the season, he retired for good.
He played 13 seasons in from 1986 to 2000 for the Mets, Yankees, Phillies, Rangers, Pirates and Dodgers.
In 108 Stitches, former Mets pitcher Ron Darling's tell-all memoir of his playing days, Darling claims "Elster liked to think of himself as a ladies’ man, and he was. He was always talking about his exploits … in a way that would probably come back to bite him in today’s #MeToo environment." In 1987 (2/7), he married Jennifer Pizzata and later divorced. In 1996 (11/23), he married Kimberlee Drake and also later divorced in 1999 (8/15). In 2003 (6/7) he married Jennifer Black and later divorced in 2009 (8/25).
- "Queens Born New York Giants Player & Former Mets Scout: Buddy Kerr". CentefieldMaz. November 5, 2014.
- "Kevin Elster, Professional Baseball Player". Golden West College Newsroom. 2012.
- Moran, Malcolm (September 2, 1986). "PLAYERS; Double Ceremony". The New York Times.
- "San Francisco Giants 4, New York Mets 3". Baseball-Reference.com. Shea Stadium. September 2, 1986.
- "New York Mets 4, San Francisco Giants 2". Baseball-Reference.com. Shea Stadium. September 3, 1986.
- "Philadelphia Phillies 6, New York Mets 0". Baseball-Reference.com. Veterans Stadium. September 14, 1986.
- "1986 National League Championship Series". Baseball-Reference.com. Shea Stadium & the Astrodome. October 8–15, 1986.
- "1986 World Series, Game 6". Baseball-Reference.com. Shea Stadium. October 25, 1986.
- Stevens, Nick. "Baltimore Orioles: Ryan Mountcastle Closes In On Two Norfolk Records". FanSided.
- "St. Louis Cardinals 3, New York Mets 2". Baseball-Reference.com. Busch Memorial Stadium. October 2, 1987.
- "New York Mets 10, Montreal Expos 6". Baseball-Reference.com. Olympic Stadium (Montreal). April 4, 1988.
- "New York Mets 13, Atlanta Braves 4". Baseball-Reference.com. Atlanta–Fulton County Stadium. April 26, 1988.
- "Cincinnati Reds 11, New York Mets 2". Baseball-Reference.com. Riverfront Stadium. July 19, 1988.
- "Elster Errorless in 73 Games, a Record". Los Angeles Times. April 20, 1989.
- "1988 National League Championship Series, Game 4". Baseball-Reference.com. Shea Stadium. October 9, 1988.
- "THE SIDELINES: Elster to Have Shoulder Surgery". Los Angeles Times. August 30, 1990.
- Hersch, Hank (August 17, 1992). "Down and Out". Sports Illustrated.
- "1986 World Champion Mets Infielder: Kevin Elster (1986-1992)". CentefieldMaz. August 1, 2019.
- "Philadelphia Phillies 16, San Francisco Giants 8". Baseball-Reference.com. Veterans Stadium. August 18, 1995.
- "New York Mets 10, Philadelphia Phillies 8". Baseball-Reference.com. Shea Stadium. September 16, 1995.
- Chass, Murray (October 3, 1996). "Rangers' Elster becomes iron man from scrap heap Shortstop surprises with bat, glove". The Baltimore Sun.
- "1996 American League Division Series". Baseball-Reference.com. Yankee Stadium (1923) & The Ballpark in Arlington. October 1–5, 1996.CS1 maint: location (link)
- "Pittsburgh Pirates 5, San Francisco Giants 2". Baseball-Reference.com. Candlestick Park. April 1, 1997.
- Robinson, Alan (May 18, 1997). "Pirates' Elster to miss most of season with injury". Associated Press.
- Wilonsky, Robert (March 5, 1998). "Stopped short". Dallas Observer.
- "Los Angeles Dodgers 6, San Francisco Giants 5". Baseball-Reference.com. Pacific Bell Park. April 11, 2000.
- McPolin, Paul (April 2, 2019). "Ron Darling's tell-all skewers others, not just Lenny Dykstra". New York Post.
- "Little Big League". IMDb.