Hegan Family Looms Large in Indians History

Baseball, it’s said, is a story of fathers and sons. And Major League Baseball has no shortage of multi-generation families. Neither do the Indians.

Jim Bagby Sr. won 30 games for the Indians in 1920, leading them to a World Series win. His son Jim Jr. had a nine-year major league career, including four with the Indians. He was one of the pitchers that ended Joe DiMaggio’s 56-game hitting streak in 1941. Before becoming the Indians manager, Terry Francona played for the Indians, as did his father Tito.

Jim Hegan was the catcher for the Indians in the 1940s and 1950s. His son Mike also had a major league career, and while it didn’t include any time with the Indians, he spent more than 20 years with the team in his second career as a broadcaster. Mike Hegan, who died on Christmas at the age of 71, will be honored by the Indians with a moment of silence during Opening Day festivities Friday.

When the Indians put together a pitching staff that was the envy of the league in the 1940s and 1950s, it was a credit to Jim Hegan. Hegan, who still leads the Indians in games caught, was a calming presence behind the plate. Hegan caught three no-hitters, for Don Black, Bob Lemon and Bob Feller’s third no-no, and made five All-Star teams, despite having never batted more than .248 in a season. Hall of Fame catcher Bill Dickey once said of Jim Hegan, “If I could catch like Jim Hegan, I wouldn’t need to hit.”

The Indians dealt Hegan to the Tigers in 1958, and after bouncing around from Detroit to the Phillies, Giants and Cubs, called it a career in 1960. He was hired on shortly after his retirement as a coach for the Yankees.

Mike Hegan was born in Cleveland in 1942, a year after his father made his major league debut with the Tribe. Jim Hegan moved his family from Massachusetts to Cleveland in 1954, as he and Browns quarterback Otto Graham had a store downtown, Hegan-Graham Appliance. Mike Hegan served as an Indians batboy and played baseball at St. Ignatius. In 1960, Mike Hegan signed with the Yankees, making his debut with the team in 1964. He bounced around the majors, with stops in Seattle with the Pilots, Milwaukee (where the Pilots moved after one season) and Oakland. He was on the 1972 Athletics team that won a World Series, making him and his father the first father-son pairing to win World Series.

Hegan started doing some off-season reporting in Milwaukee in 1970, and within 10 days of his retirement in 1977, he was in the broadcast booth. He spent 11 years calling Brewers games before being paired up with Jack Corrigan to call Indians games on WUAB-TV. After Herb Score’s retirement from the broadcast booth following the 1997 season, Hegan was paired up with Tom Hamilton on the radio.

Hegan’s duties became more limited in 2011 after some health issues, and he stepped down from the booth after that season. But until he died, he remained an Indians Alumni Ambassador.

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