Throwback Thursday: Guy Hecker

No glove, sporting capris, wearing a turban, and pitching from the edge of a cliff.

Why we like him: I think Guy Hecker might have started games Jesse Orosco finished, and dueled Jamie Moyer on occasion.  The surprisingly nickname-less Hecker played 8 seasons as a pitcher, first baseman, and outfielder for the American Association's Louisville Eclipse, which should be, in retrospect, the name of a WNBA franchise, and then one season for the NL's Pittsburgh Alleghenys before retiring in 1890 at the age of 34, probably due to the fact that his arm turned into gelatin.

What's interesting about Hecker is the fact that he was probably one of the best pitcher/hitter combos of "ye olden era."  He won a spiffy 52 games during the 1884 season, sporting a 1.80 ERA to go along with that sparkling-ish 52-20 record.   He pitched a league-leading 670.2 innings that season, which is enough for third most all time, and a downright frightening 72 complete games.  He also booked the seventh-most strikeouts in a season that year with 385, which beats Nolan Ryan's superhuman 1973 total by two, though the Express pitched less than half the innings.  His 1882 WHIP (if anybody even cares about that stat) of 0.77 was the lowest for over a century until it was bested by Pedro Martinez's 0.74 in 2000.

Hecker's career was about more than just pitching, though, as he was a fairly productive hitter as well.  He batted .282 for his career, and (I'm sure) legged out 19 homers.  We'll never know about his RBI or steals totals since statisticians of that era couldn't chisel the stats tablets fast enough to record them.  He even posted the league's highest batting average in 1886 with a .341 mark. In yet another interesting feat for the man, he also still retains co-possession of the coveted title of most homers in a game by a pitcher with 3 on that fateful day of August 15, 1886 (Jim Tobin equalled the mark in 1942 with the Braves).

Was this guy deserving of a look from the Hall of Fame?  No, but his mustache was beyond epic, and his overall look, beyond ridiculous.  Go ice that arm, Hecker, right after you reattach it.  You're pitching again tomorrow.

Ladies and gentlemen, Guy Hecker, Ballplayer.

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