Born: May 10, 1941 (Kansas City, MO)
Graduated: Washburn Rural High School, 1959
Attended: Wichita State University, 1960
On the baseball field, few in Kansas history have accomplished anything quite like that of Topeka native, Ken Berry.
As a high school student, Berry dazzled Topeka area crowds and led the city in scoring in both football and basketball as a senior. In fact, Berry was so skilled on the gridiron, he earned a football scholarship to attend the University of Wichita, now Wichita State University, as a wide receiver.
Berry only played one season for Wichita however as he signed a professional baseball contract with the Chicago White Sox during the summer of 1960.
Gold Glove Award Winner
Berry made his Major League debut with the White Sox two seasons later in 1962 at the age of 21. He quickly earned a nickname, "The Bandit," for his knack of stealing would be base hits from opposing hitters. As an outfielder, Berry led the American League in field percentage three times in 1969, 1972, and 1973; led the American League in putouts in 1965; and led the American League in outfield assists in 1975. Berry also claimed the highest defensive honor, the Gold Glove Award, twice in 1970 and 1972. In 1967, Berry was named to the American League All-Star team.
Berry wasn't only about defense however, as evidenced by his .255 career batting average, including 58 career homeruns and over 1,000 career hits.
For his career, Berry's fielding percentage stands at .989 in over 1,300 career games during his fourteen year career.
Berry continued to be involved with baseball following his playing career, including several minor league coaching stints where he influenced generations of baseball players including Robin Ventura and Frank Thomas. Berry is also the namesake of Topeka's Ken Berry League, which was started in 1969 and today serves over 2,000 area youth.