By Devon POV Mason| Contributor
Before his 17-year career as a six-time All-Star, four-time Gold Glove winner, and five-time stolen base champion, Kenny Lofton crossed through the Delta Omicron Chapter of Kappa Alpha Psi as a college student at the University of Arizona in 1987.
With 622 base swipes, Lofton was one of baseball’s most recognized names in the ’90s, most remembered for his peak years with the Cleveland Indians (who he played with on three different occasions).
He also played for the Houston Astros, Atlanta Braves, Chicago White Sox, San Francisco Giants, Pittsburgh Pirates, Chicago Cubs, New York Yankees, Philadelphia Phillies, Los Angeles Dodgers, and Texas Rangers during his nomadic career.
He also played in an era where Black baseball stars were dynamic, and plentiful, multi-faceted and very marketable, with many exhibiting speed and athletics that enhanced their overall game and captivated the fans — even when homers weren’t being hit.
Lofton was born and raised in East Chicago, Indiana. The multi-talented athlete was an all-state basketball player and pitcher/center fielder at Washington High School.
He accepted a basketball scholarship to attend the University of Arizona, where he played on a team with current Golden State Warriors coach Steve Kerr and even made it to the the1988 Final Four.
In his junior year of college, the itch to once again play baseball became too much shy away from so he walked-on to the baseball team at Zona. Although he only played five games he was recognized by scouts and was drafted by the Houston Astros in the 17th round of the 1988 MLB draft. Lofton then went on to play in the minor leagues after graduating with a degree in studio production. He made his MLB debut with the Astros in 1991.
Lofton is one of two men to play in a World Series and NCAA Final Four (1988).
During his career, Lofton was arguably the second-best leadoff hitter in the game behind the electrifying Rickey Henderson. He retired just eight hits shy of being a .300 hitter over his 17-year career. His 68.4 WAR ranks ninth among centerfielders all-time. Six of the eight players ahead of him are enshrined in Cooperstown at the Baseball Hall of Fame. The two not in are Mike Trout and Carlos Beltran.
The fleet-footed Lofton compiled a .299 batting average with 130 home runs, 116 triples, 1,528 runs scored in 2,103 games played. He was a tremendous defensive centerfielder with elite range.
Lofton currently runs a film production company called Film Pool Inc. There are few players of his ilk in the history of the game.