Clinton Clarence Hartung was born August 10th 1922 in Hondo Texas. The big six foot five right hander was signed by the New York Giants in 1942. In high scholl he was known for hitting long HRs & having a golden pitching arm.
He would play one year of minor league ball before going off to World War II for years of military service. He found tremendous success playing in the military, against many MLB & professional minor league players.
The level of competition was incredible during the war years. Hartung was not only a good pitcher but a good hitter as well. Hartung was featured in a February 1947 Life magazine as well as a March 1947 Time magazine, being highly touted as a superstar pitcher of the future.
In Spring Training of 1947 he also hit a bunch of HRs just adding to the hype of his big league arrival. In later years Giants players like Bobby Thomson & Hartung's roommate Don Mueller felt he was brought up to soon. The Giants having finished last in 1946 were desperate for something positive & used Hartung's popularity for the attention.
He made his MLB debut on May 9th 1947 pitching six shut out innings against the Brooklyn Dodgers, only allowing two hits earning no decision. In his next outing he beat the Cubs in Chicago for his first big league win. He then came out & pitched two complete games, starting his career out at 4-0.
The Giants fans were excited right away, but he soon lost three straight in June. As the season went on he pitched a few gems, first a six hit shut out in Philadelphia on July 5th. Then a five hit one run game at the Polo Groungs against the Pirates on July 14th.
In late August he threw a two hitter against the Pirates allowing one run & tossed another five hitter against them in September. But overall on the year he was 9-6 with a 4.40 ERA as the Giants under Mel Ott finished improved to fourth place.
The Giants like his bat so much, he was used in the outfield in seven games. At the plate he hit .309 with four HRs four doubles three triples & 13 RBIs. Although he wasn't living up to the All Star hype he had received he was an impressive all around player.
The next year he was 8-8 with a 4.75 ERA, itching two shut outs as Ott was replaced with Leo Durocher during the season. On July 28th Hartung pitched a three hit shut out at the Polo Grounds beating the Cincinnati Reds. In 1949 he had a great start going 4-0 pitching four complete games in his first five starts. But then he suffered four losses & went on to a 9-11 season with a 5.00 ERA. At bat he failed to hit over .200 for the second straight year.
In 1950 he went 3-3 but his 6.61 ERA & ten HRs allowed in 65 innings was a concern. His pitching days were over finishing up at 29-29 with 167 strike outs 271 walks & 57 HRs allowed with a 5.02 ERA in 112 games. Hartung would play two more seasons with the Giants, as an outfielder & pinch hitter. He played in 21 games for the 1951 NL Champion Giants mostly from April through early August batting .205 with two RBIs.
As the Giants went on their incredible winning streak in late August /September Hartung was sent down to the minor leagues. He returned in October & came in to replace the injured Don Mueller when he slid into third base in the 9th inning of the final 1951 playoff game against Brooklyn.
Hartung was on third base when the Dodgers Ralph Branca threw the famous shot heard round the world HR pitch to the Giants Bobby Thomson.
The HR still considered the most famous HR in baseball history won the pennant for the New York Giants. Hartung got to appear in two World Series games going 0-4.
His last season was 1952 as he hit .218 in 28 games for New York. Hartung played in the minors through the 1955 season. In six MLB seasons he hit .238 with 90 hits 14 HRs & 43 RBIs.
Retirement: After baseball he "the Hondo Hurricane" as he was known as well as "Floppy" worked in the Texas oil Fields with the Plymouth Oil Company.He passed away in 2007 at age 87.