The eccentric, intelligent 6'5" prankster was nicknamed Emu because he looked and
acted like a big bird. Kern and Sparky Lyle
, in the Rangers' bullpen for two seasons,
were known as Craziness, Inc. for their antics and off-the-field misadventures. Kern
was hit in the mouth with a throw from his catcher while watching a foul ball in
Texas in August 1980. He fell backward off the mound, suffering a concussion. The
temporary amnesia he reportedly suffered may have been the result of an opportunistic
sense of humor.
His overpowering fastball and lunatic reputation made him an intimidating
short reliever; he averaged 8.6 strikeouts per nine innings, 1976-79, when he won
41 games and saved 75. Though he lost an AL-high 10 in relief for Cleveland in 1977,
he turned it around in 1979 with Texas, where he was 13-5 with 29 saves and a 1.57
ERA, earning him Fireman of the Year cohonors with Mike Marshall. That was his last
effective season, as he injured his elbow in 1980. Unhappy in Cincinnati, Kern forced
the Reds to trade him in 1982 by regrowing his scraggly beard, breaking the Reds'
unwritten "no facial hair" rule.