Drafted by the Kansas City A’s in 1961, Ted Kubiak spent six years in the A’s minor league system primarily playing shortstop; however, when the A’s called him up in 1967, they wanted him to be a utility player. While not crazy with the role, he ended up backing up Dick Green at second base, Bert Campaneris at short, and Sal Bando for a couple of games at third base. He struggled his first season, only hitting .157, but the A’s loved his fielding enough to bring him back in 1968 with the now Oakland A’s.
Ted hit well coming off the bench and in occasional starts over the next couple of seasons. Prior to the 1970 season, the Seattle Pilots wanted to upgrade their shortstop position. The Pilots were able to strike a deal with the Oakland A’s on December 7, 1969. The Pilots acquired Ted Kubiak and George Lauzerique (pitcher) from the A’s in exchange for their shortstop and pitcher, Ray Oyler and Diego Segui.
The Pilots moved to Milwaukee the week before the 1970 season began and became the Milwaukee Breweres. While the Brewers weren’t a very good club, the trade gave Ted the opportunity to play every day and he responded with his best season in Milwaukee, posting career highs in every offensive category across the board. Although he hit well, manager Dave Bristol decided to move Ted from shortstop to second base mid-season, “I hated the change at first” but “I suppose I should be grateful for the change because at least I’m a regular in the big leagues.” (Costello, 2011)
Ted played with the Brewers until July 29, 1971 when he was traded with minor league pitcher Charlie Loseth to the Cardinals for José Cardenal, Bob Reynolds, and Dick Schofield. Ted finished the season with the Cardinals hitting a solid .250, and was once again dealt away in the off-season, this time to the Texas Rangers, who had just moved from Washington.
Ted Williams, the Rangers manager at the time, had liked the way Kubiak played at second base, so the trade was made and the Cardinals acquired journeyman pitcher Joe Grzenda. Ted was once again backing up second base, shortstop, and third base, when the Oakland A’s called the Rangers looking for depth as they were making a push to win the American League West. The A’s re-acquired Ted Kubiak along with first baseman. Don Mincher, in exchange for second base, third base, and outfielder Vic Harris, second base, shortstop, and third base Marty Martinez, and a player to be named later, who turned out to be pitcher Steve Lawson.
Back with the A’s, he was once again a utility player but this time, he was playing with a winner. The Oakland A’s, managed by Dick Williams, would win the World Series in 1972 and 1973 and again in 1974 under manager Alvin Dark and Ted was there to provide quality depth off the bench as his ability to play second base, shortstop and third base in an above average fashion. “Sure it bothers me, but over the years, I’ve become accustomed to being a utilityman and I contribute as best I can,” (Costello, 2011) and the 3 World Series rings proves he did the best he could.
The 1975 season brought one last career move and that was to the San Diego Padres. The Padres were in need of a solid player who could play all over the infield, so the Padres dealt pitcher Sonny Siebert to Oakland for Ted. Ted would continue to play solidly in the infield while hitting .224 in 1975 and .236 for the what would end up being his last major league season. Heading into the 1977 season, he and the Padres could not come to terms by the March 10th deadline, so the Padres renewed his $38,000 contract at the maximum pay cut. He “walked out of the Yuma spring training camp on March 30 . . . was never heard from again and was placed on the disqualified list,” (Costello, 2011) and that was it: Ted Kubiak never played another game in the majors. “I didn’t like the experience. They treated me exactly the way they treated most of us in those years. They wouldn’t say anything – take it or leave it. But I was 34 then, it was probably time to go.” (Costello, 2011)
We reached out to Ted Kubiak, who lives locally, and asked him a few questions about his playing days and what he’s doing now.
Padres360 – What was the proudest moment of your career?
Ted Kubiak – I was most proud of my years with Oakland and winning 3 World Championships in a row. I spent 6 years in the minors and the game was never easy for me.
Padres360 – What path did you take after your Major League Career?
Ted Kubiak – I have been managing and coaching for the past 26 years, the last 21 with the Indians, who did not renew my contract for 2015.
Padres360 – What are you doing now?
Ted Kubiak – In retirement, I am finishing up a book I’ve been writing about my time in the game and its changes. I am in the process of putting my expertise on a website called oldschoolMVP.com (the site isn’t up at this time, but should be in the near future.)
Padres360 – Who were some of your favorite Padres players when you were on the team?
Ted Kubiak – I had the privilege of playing with McCovey, Winfield and Randy Jones during my two years with the Padres, which were the last of my career.
We hope you have enjoyed catching up with former Padres player, Ted Kubiak.
Costello, R. (2011). Ted Kubiak. Retrieved January 7, 2016, from http://sabr.org/bioproj/person/88c66cfb