Longtime Cleveland Indians catcher Jim Hegan passes away. He was 63 years old.
Hegan spent just three years of his 17-year Major League career outside of a Cleveland uniform and could have had several more years of MLB service, but military obligations in the Coast Guard kept him off of the diamond from 1943 to 1945. He logged every inning of work on the field as a catcher.
He debuted in 1941 at the age of 21, hitting a homer and single in his first game, and played sparingly until his return from the war. By 1947, he was the team’s regular backstop and made All-Star squads in five of six seasons from 1947 to 1952. Not known for his hitting (he was a lifetime .230 hitter for the Tribe), he put his best overall offensive season together the year the Indians needed it the most, when he hit .248 with 14 homers and 61 RBI, the latter two both career highs, in 1948.
Prior to the 1958 season, he was traded to Detroit, but he was dealt again before the end of July to the Philadelphia Phillies. He was purchased by the San Francisco Giants midway through the following season and signed with the Chicago Cubs in late May of 1960. He was released at the end of July and was signed by the New York Yankees, but he did not play for the club prior to his release at season’s end. Following his career, he worked as a coach for both the Yankees and Tigers and also spent time as a scout.
He was a defensive specialist and threw out 49.8% of the runners attempting to steal against him in his career. He was behind the plate for three different no-hitters for the Indians. His son, Mike Hegan, spent 12 years in the Majors with three teams and later became a television and radio voice of the Tribe.
Also on this date in Tribe history:
1955 – Super Joe Charboneau is born in Belvidere, Illinois. The future 1980 American League Rookie of the Year will spend three years in an Indians uniform from 1980 to 1982, but appeared in just 70 games in the final two seasons as injuries took their toll and cut short his career after its impressive start.
1987 – Former Indians infielder Dick Howser passes away at the age of 51 from brain cancer. A member of the Indians from 1963 to 1966, Howser worked as a middle infielder and later spent parts of eight seasons as a manager with the New York Yankees and Kansas City Royals, winning the 1985 World Series with the latter.
1993 – Carlos Baerga slugs three home runs in one game, but his efforts are not enough as the Indians fall 9-5 to the Detroit Tigers. Future Indians third baseman Travis Fryman and Detroit outfielder Dan Gladden each hit a pair of homers in the Tigers win.