Aug 22, 2015

Early Seventies Mets Catching Prospect: Ike Hampton (1974)

Isaac Bernard Hampton was born August 22, 1951 in Camden, South Carolina. In 1970 on his 19th birthday he signed a contract with the New York Mets.

Hamptom appeared regularly to us young Mets fans as being a future star in the early nineteen seventies yearbooks. He was a seen in many early photo graphs sporting glasses, which was rare in those days, especially for a catcher.

At A ball in beautiful Pompano Beach, Florida he showed power early on hitting 11 HRs with 71 RBIs in 1971. The next year he was promoted to AA Visalia at where he continued to hit for power; 21 HRs with 77 RBIs although he struck out 134 times & only batted .252. His numbers dropped significantly off when he got to AAA Tidewater in 1973 / 1974.

In 303 at bats for the Tides in 1974, he only hit six HRs (although it was good enough to be tied for second on a weak hitting club) 8 doubles & 29 RBIs while striking out 82 times & batting .241. He got a September call up, making his debut as a pinch hitter on September 12th against the St. Louis Cardinals, where he hit a fly ball out.  

He got to pinch hit in four games that month, going hitless. On September 24th he drove in Duffy Dyer on a sac fly against the Pittsburgh Pirates in an 11-5 Mets loss. Hampton got to catch a few innings behind the plate, on September 14th, at Shea Stadium as a battery mate for two other September call ups, Jerry Cram & John Strohmayer.

Hampton remained down in the minor leagues, with the big league club casting such talented catchers like Jerry Grote, Duffy Dyer, & Ron Hodges, there wasn’t much opportunity for him. With the arrival of John Stearns in 1974 his days were certainly numbered & in Spring Training of 1975 he was traded to the California Angels for relief pitcher Ken Sanders.

In five years with the Angels he would play in 91 games, being used mostly as a third string catcher & occasional Designated hitter. Hampton even a played handful of games at short & third base.

His best season was 1977; batting .295 with 3 HRs 9 RBIs in 52 games played. In 1981 he went to play in Japan before retiring from baseball.

In a six year career he batted .207 with 28 hits 4 HRs 4 doubles a .275 on base % & 18 RBIs

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