One of the original Minnesota Twins, pitcher John Francis (Jack) Kralick who was born on June 1, 1935 in Youngstown, Ohio passed away at his home in San Blas, Mexico on September 18 at the age of 77. The Chicago White Sox signed Jack Kralick prior to the 1955 season after Kralick had played baseball for one season at Michigan State but released him in June of 1958. The Washington Senators signed Kralick in September of 1958 and he made his major league debut with the Senators on April 15, 1959 at Fenway Park throwing one inning of relief in a 7-3 loss to the Red Sox after having never pitched above single A ball in the minor leagues. Kralick ended up spending most of his 1959 season in double AA Chattanooga before making the Senators starting staff in 1960 and then became a Minnesota Twin when the Washington Senators moved to Minnesota after the 1960 season.
The left-handed Kralick is best known for throwing the Twins first no-hitter on Sunday, August 26, 1962. There were five no-hitters thrown in 1962, others that threw a “no-no” that season were Bo Belinsky of the Angels, the Red Sox Earl Wilson became the first African-American to throw an American league no-hitter, the Dodgers Sandy Koufax threw the first of his four no-hitters, and the Red Sox Bill Momboquette also threw a no-hitter. Kralick had a perfect game going with one out in the 9th inning at Met Stadium before walking pinch-hitter George Alusik on a 3-2 count. Kralick then retired pinch-hitter Billy Consolo and lead off hitter Bobby Del Greco on foul pop-ups to 1B Vic Power to complete the no-hitter and notch a 1-0 win in 1 hour and 57 minutes. “It doesn’t make any difference to me – a no-hitter or a perfect game.” With that statement the Twins southpaw shook off any disappointment of losing a perfect game. “I suppose its a little nicer to be a perfect game”, Kralick added, “but it really makes no difference to me”. According to Kralick, his curveball was not working so he relied mainly on fastballs and sliders with a couple of change-ups thrown in. Kralick was not a pitcher that you would think would throw a no-hitter but he also threw two seven inning no-hitters in the minor leagues. It was the first no-hitter caught by catcher Earl Battey and he said that “my hands were really shaking in that ninth inning.” Kralick’s time in a Twins uniform was cut short when the Twins traded Kralick to the Cleveland Indians for pitcher Jim Perry on May 2, 1963. Kralick finished his Twins career with a 26-26 record and 3.74 ERA in 75 starts while throwing 510+ innings. Kralick had a little pop in his bat too as he hit 3 home runs in 200 plate appearances in a Twins uniform. As a matter of fact, on August 20, 1961, he was part of a rare feat as he and teammate Al Schroll both homered; it is one of only six times that two pitchers have hit a home run in one game for the same team, and the last time the feat has been performed. Kralick was nicknamed “Jittery Jack” for his constant fidgeting on the mound. He would play with practically everything, between his uniform, cap and the rosin bag. By several accounts, he seemed to like spending time by himself and wasn’t easy to get along with. A chain smoker, teammates and sportswriters described him as “a loner,” “reclusive,” and at times, “abrasive.” Rich Rollins said, however, “While he was kind of a loner, I thought most of the guys got along with him when we were teammates in Minnesota.”
Kralick went on to pitch for the Indians from 1963-1967 putting up a 33-33 mark and making the 1964 All-Star team. It has been reported that Kralick was difficult to get along with at times and in August 1965 he and Indians pitcher and roommate Gary Bell got into a short one punch each fight in Washington D.C. hotel room and Kralick ended up on the short end of the stick with a broken tooth and required 9 stitches. The Indians sold Kralick to the New York Mets on May 1, 1967 but he never pitched for his new team as he was involved in a car accident shortly after the transaction which left him with a cracked rib and double vision. His vision only cleared up at the end of the year, at which point Kralick had lost the desire to pitch again. At the age of 33 Jack Kralick walked away from baseball and never looked back. According to a 1971 article, he had moved to Watertown, South Dakota, enjoying a life of fishing and hunting, while working for a school supply company. Kralick enjoyed the outdoors and ended up living in Alaska and San Blas, Mexico.
I, like many others had tried to get in contact with Kralick over the years to see if he was doing an interview for Twins Trivia but like everyone else we never received a reply. According to his son, Lee Kralick, ”He didn’t want the fame, didn’t want the notoriety,” Lee said. “That’s just who he was.”
Rest in peace Jack Kralick, and thank you for the memories. We at Twins Trivia would like to pass on our condolences to the family and friends of Jack Kralick. Only 9 of the 23 original players that played for the Washington Senators in 1960 and moved to Minnesota after the 1960 season remain alive today.