Jun 29, 2015

Short Time Early Sixties Met & His Big Hit: Joe Hicks (1963)

William Josseph Hicks was born on April 7th, 1933 in Ivy Virginia. The six foot left hand hitting outfielder, threw right handed. He attended the University of Virginia at Chalottesville, where he earned a degree in education.

He was signed by the Chicago White Sox in 1953. He toiled in the minor leagues for seven seasons before getting a chance in September of 1959 for the Go Go Sox who were on their way to face the Los Angles Dodgers in the World Series. Hicks played in six September games going 307 (.429) but was not eligible for the post season.

In 1960 he hit .303 at AAA San Diego in the Pacific Coast League, getting back to Chicago for 36 games where he hit just .191. That December he was drafted by the expansion Los Angeles Angels as the 42nd pick in that draft. But just six days later he was traded to the Washington Senators, where he appeared in just 12 games.

In 1962 he saw the most action of his career playing in 102 games for the tenth place Senators who won just 60 games while losing 101. He was a reserve outfielder behind the likes of Bob Johnson, Chuck Hinton & Jimmy Piersall. On June 6th he hit a 9th inning HR off Dick Hall & the Baltimore Orioles, which turned out to be the games winning run.

He hit four of his six HRs in that month of June, finishing the year batting .224 with 6 HRs & 14 RBIs. That off season his contract was sold to the New York Mets who were the only team to lose more games than Washington in 1962.

He began the season at AAA Buffalo where he hit 14 HRs while batting .330 getting called up to the Mets in July. Hicks made his first appearance as a pinch hitter, striking out against Sandy Koufax in a 6-0 three hit, 13 strike out Koufax win.

Quotes: After striking out against Koufax, Casey Stengel said to Hicks: Stengel says, ‘Hicksy, don’t let it fret you, don’t let it fret you. He struck out a lot of guys and he’s gonna strike out a lot more.’

In mid July Hicks had the best week of his career, starting with a three hit, two RBI day against the Houston Astros in a14-5 Mets win in the first game of a twin bill.

Then starting on July 16th, he homered in three straight games. The first was against Houston's Turk Farrell, a solo shot & then later he doubled in another run.

On July 17th, Hicks came to bat in the bottom of the 9th inning, in a tied game against the defending NL Champion San Francisco Giants. The Giants removed Gaylord Perry & brought in reliver Don Larsen. Joe Christopher reached first base & the sign came in from third base coach Solly Hemus for Hicks to bunt. Hicks laid down a beauty, but the ball rolled foul at the last minute.

Manager Casey Stengel had managed Larsen in New York & knew after a sac attempt, Larsen would throw a high hard one. The bunt sign was off & Hicks swung away. He hit a dramatic walk off, two run HR off Larsen, scoring Christopher with the winning runs.

The next day he put the Mets ahead with a 7th inning three run HR off the Giants Bobby Bolin. The Mets would end up losing the game the next inning. His hot streak would not last, but he did keep himself in the lineup for most of the rest of the season. On August 11th he hit a three run HR, having a two hit, four RBI day in a big 11-4 Mets win at Shea Stadium.

In 56 games with New York, he batted .226 with five HRs, six doubles, & 22 RBIs. Hicks played in 41 games in the outfield posting a .966 fielding % making one assist with three errors comitted. Hicks would spend the next three seasons in the minor leagues at AAA Buffalo where he hit 31 HRs over those seasons.

In his five year MLB career he hit .221 with 92 hits 11 doubles 12 HRs & 39 RBIs.

Retirement: After baseball he became the director of athletic programs in the City of Charlottesville, Virginia. At age 80 he still plays the game & is an umpire for high school baseball.

1 comment:

Cliff Blau said...

The reason Hicks was traded from the Angels to the Senators right after the 1960 expansion draft is that there were certain errors made during the draft as far as teams picking the correct number of players from the other teams and so forth. Hicks was one of the guys shifted to correct those mistakes.