Daniel William Heep was born on July 3, 1957 in San Antonio, Texas. Heep began his baseball career as a pitcher, winning two All American honors at St. Mary’s University in San Antonio, Texas. There he earned a bachelor’s degree in Physical Education and was elected in the schools Hall of Fame. He was drafted by the Houston Astros in 1978, as a second round draft pick. In 1979 he was the Southern League’s MVP batting .327 with 21 HRs 30 doubles & 84 RBIs. He got a late season call up making his debut against the New York Mets on August 31st.
He went 0-1 as a pinch hitter that day popping out to third base, off pitcher Craig Swan. The next year he batted .343 with 17 HRs at AAA Tuscon in the Pacific Coast League in 96 games, getting back to the Astros for 33 games where he hit .276. In 1981 he was back at AAA, batting .337 getting another call up to Houston as a pinch hitter & utility outfielder.
He saw the more action in Houston in 1982, playing in 85 games, batting .237 with 14 doubles while hitting his first career HR. He had one at bat (0-1) in the 1980 NLCS vs. the Philadelphia Phillies. In December 1982 he was traded to the New York Mets for future Mets nemesis, pitcher Mike Scott.
Heep soon became one of the league’s top pinch hitters & along with Rusty Staub, gave the Mets two dangerous late inning pinch hit threats. He began the year playing outfield in the second game of the season batting in the 5th spot. In just his fourth Mets game, Heep hit a HR while playing right field & first base against the Philadelphia Phillies. Two games later he hit yet another HR and was batting .400 by the end of April. On May 6th he hit a pinch hit HR against the Cincinnati Reds helping the Mets to a 7-4 comeback win.
He would set a Mets club record with four pinch hit HRs that season, hitting them all at home although none were walk off game winners.
In another May contest, his 9th inning sac fly won a game in Cincinnati. On June 14th his pinch hit HR in the 8th inning off Cubs pitcher Dick Ruthven, tied a game at Shea Stadium against Chicago. The Mets would win the game in the 11th inning, on Rusty Staub’s pinch hit RBI single. At the start of August he drove in six runs while playing sparingly in ten games. On October 2nd, Heep got the start in right field in a game at Montreal. He hit a first inning HR that was the only run scored in the game as the Mets won it 1-0.
On the year he got into a career high 115 games, hitting .253 with 8 HRs, 12 doubles 21 RBIs & a .326 on base % in 253 at bats.
In 1984, Heep started out the year well going 5-8 as a pinch hitter & batting .412 in early May. In the middle of June he got a few starts & had three multi hit games, hitting safely in eight of nine games while batting .328 by late June. He hit well in July as well keeping his average up over .300 until the All Star break. In the second half of the season he saw his average dropped to .231 with one HR, nine doubles, two triples & 12 RBIs.
In the second game of the 1985 season, Heep drew a bases loaded pinch hit walk, off former Mets reliever, Neil Allen, giving the Mets a 2-1 win over the rival St. Louis Cardinals. On May 5th he had a big two hit, five RBI day against the Reds. He drove in a run with a sac fly in the 4th inning & then doubled with the bases loaded in the 5th inning off Mario Soto. In the 7th he doubled once again scoring two more runs, as the Mets went on to win it 9-4. He had a hot first week of June filling in at right field, hitting three HRs while driving in six runs on a west coast road trip.
In the classic 19 inning July 4th Mets- Braves game at Fulton County Stadium, Heep entered the game in the 8th inning & ended up with five at bats. In the top of the 19th, Gary Carter scored on a Ray Knight double to give the Mets the lead. Two batters later, Heep singled with the bases loaded scoring all three runs, with help from a Braves throwing error. He then scored on a Wally Backman single, the runs proved important as the Braves scored two more in the bottom of the 19th. Ron Darling held on in relief for the 16-13 Mets wild win.
In September as the Mets chased the Cardinals for the Eastern title Heep contributed. He drove in two runs in the second game of a double header against the Cardinals helping New York to a 7-6 win. Two days later he hit a first inning three run HR in Montreal leading to a 6-3 Met win. In 1985 Heep hit .280, with 7 HRs, 17 doubles a .341 on base % and 42 RBIs, appearing in 95 games.
That year he was involved in a violent outfield collision with rookie Terry Blocker on Banner Day at Shea Stadium, against the St. Louis Cardinals. The play resulted in an inside-the-park grand slam Cardinal HR. Heep recovered quickly to get back in the lineup. Later that season he was involved in some drama on a team flight, getting into a fist fight with Darryl Strawberry, actually beating him up pretty badly according to some accounts. All made nice, for the 1986 Mets championship season.
In 1986 Heep got the start in the third game of the Mets season. His third inning triple drove in Keith Hernandez & Gary Carter in Philadelphia, and turned out to be the winning runs in the eventual Mets 9-7 win. On April 26th he got the start in left field, getting two hits & driving in two runs helping the Mets to a 4-3 win. They would win the next game & sweep the four game set, leading Cards manager Whitey Herzog to concede the division that early on. In the month of April he hit .368 with seven hits & 8 RBIs.
He kept his average up through the middle of June once again, & was one of the league’s top pinch hitters. In late September although the Mets had wrapped up the division, Heep helped win a game with a pinch hit two run 9th inning double against the Chicago Cubs. He would lead the club in pinch hitting, batting .300 (9-for-30) in that role. Overall he hit .289 on the year, with 5 HRs, 8 doubles, 33 RBIs & a .379 on base %.
Post Season: In the 1986 NLCS against the Houston Astros he appeared in five games, getting four pinch hit at bats with one hit. He drove in the only run against Mike Scott in the Mets Game #4 loss at Shea Stadium. In the World Series against the Boston Red Sox, Heep became the Mets first ever official designated hitter, appearing in that role in the first two games at Fenway Park. On another piece of trivia he became the first official designated hitter in World Series history to have the actual initials "D.H."
In that first historic at bat he singled to center field off Oil Can Boyd, driving in Keith Hernandez & Gary Carter putting New York up 3-0. It was his only hit in the series going 1-11 (.091).
He was let go to free agency by the Mets after the 1986 season and signed with the Los Angeles Dodgers for the next two years. He struggled in 1987 batting just .163 in 60 games.
In 1988 he batted .242 playing in 95 games, but won another World Series with the Dodgers that season. He also got to pitch an inning that season, just like his early days at St. Mary’s. In the 1988 NLCS agaainst his old Mets team mates, Heep had two plate appearances walking & striking out. In 1989 Heep moved on to the Boston Red Sox, & had career highs in batting (.300) at-bats (320) hits (96) RBIs (49) & runs scored (36). He also pitched an inning there as well.
In his time in the American League, he made the record books as Nolan Ryan’s 4000th strike out victim. Heep finished out his career in Atlanta in 1991, posting a.462 on base % while playing in just 14 games. He did not appear in the postseason.
In his 13 season career, Heep batted .257 lifetime, with 503 hits, 30 HRs, 96 doubles, 6 triples, 208 runs scored, a .330 on base % & 229 RBIs in 883 games played.
Retirement: After playing he was a long time head coach for the University of the Incarnate Word in San Antonio, Texas, where he won two division championships.