Richard Jose Hidalgo was born on June 28, 1975 in Venezuela. The big six foot three, Hildago was signed by the Houston Astros in 1991. He was considered an all around fast player until a knee issue hurt his speed. He was a fine outfielder with a strong throwing arm and good power at the plate. After three years he reached the AA level & then hit 14 HRs two straight years at AA Jackson. In 1997 he began the year at AAA New Orleans hitting 11 HRs batting .279 before getting called up.
He played parts of two seasons batting over .300 both times. His first full season was 1999 and he hit 15 HRs with 25 doubles 56 RBIs but only hit for a .227 average. After the season he had knee surgery & it helped his troubles at the plate. In 2000 he had a huge year as did many other bats in baseball during the so called "steroid era".
Hidalgo bashed 44 HRs (4th in the league) 122 RBIs (7th in the league) hit 42 doubles while batting .314 for the fourth place Astros. He struck out over 100 times for the second time and would do so four of the next five seasons. He never matched those totals again, but had a good year the next season with 19 HRs driving in 80 runs while batting .275. In 2002 he fell to a .235 average with 15 HRs playing in 114 games, missing time with an injury.
Defensively he was a good outfielder leading the league in fielding percentage twice, once in left field (1999) & once in right field (2002).
In 2003 he led the league with 22 outfield assists & only made four errors, posting a .987 fielding percentage. He played in three post season series in Houston but only hit .118 (2-17) scoring a run in six games played.
In June of 2004 Hidalgo came to the Mets for David Weathers & Jeremy Griffiths to add some power to the lineup.
He made his Mets debut on Mike Piazza Night, when Piazza was honored after setting the most HRs by a catcher record. Hidalgo went 0-4, that night in the Mets 3-2 win over the Detroit Tigers. Two nights later he hit a two run HR off Jeremy Bonderman in the Mets 6-1 win over the Tigers. A week later he hit two HRs in the second game of an interleague subway series double header, both solo shots off Mike Mussina.
Then in July he secured himself a spot in Mets history by hitting HRs in five straight games from July 1st to July 5th.
The first came in Cincinnati; he had two hits with a HR off Reds pitcher Mike Mathews. The next three HRs came at Shea Stadium during the July 4th weekend interleague subway series, where the Mets swept their cross town rivals. On Friday evening, Hildago had three hits, including a two run HR (another off Mike Mussina). On Saturday he hit a solo shot in the 6th inning off Jose Contreras bringing the Mets within a run, in a game they went on to win. Hidalgo topped off the weekend by hitting another HR on Sunday off Felix Heredia.
Hildago’s day was overshadowed by Ty Wiggington, who hit two HRs that day, including an 8th inning, game winner. On Monday July 5th Hidalgo wasted no time setting the record, in the first inning he homered off the Phillies Paul Abbott in Philadelphia, to set the club record of five straight games with a HR.
Later in July he had back to HR games where he drove in three runs in each contest in games at Shea against the Marlins & Expos. Later that week he had a multiple HR game (2) against the Expos at Olympic Stadium in a zany 19-10 Mets loss. In August he hit five HRs & drove in 14 runs with seven multi hit games. On September 13th he blasted a three run HR in the home 7th inning, giving the Mets a 9-5 lead over the Atlanta Braves, in a game they won 9-7. Three days later he hit another HR, his last as a Met in the four game series finally against the Braves.
Hidalgo went on to hit 21 HRs for the Mets in just 86 games played, driving in 52 runs with 11 doubles & one triple. He only batted .221 posting a .301 on base % & struck out 76 times in 324 at bats. In the outfield his strong arm got him ten assists with the Mets, and his 14 overall assists, were the most in the NL all season. He only made six errors in 286 chances posting a .979 fielding %.
He was not resigned for 2005 and he went to the Texas Rangers hitting 16 HRs with just 43 RBIs batting .221 on the season. In 2006 he signed with the Baltimore Orioles but requested out of his contract, going to play in Japan instead. He also needed time to take care of his wife who had become ill. He signed a minor league deal with Houston in 2007 but didn’t want to play in the minors and retired for good that season.
In his 9 year career he hit .269 with 929 hits, 171 HRs, 214 doubles, 19 triples, 531 runs scored, 560 RBIs & a .345 on base %. He had 81 outfield assists & posted a .987 fielding percentage.