Late Nineties Mets Relief Pitcher: John Hudek (1998)

John Raymond Hudek was born on August 8, 1966 in Tampa, Florida. The six foot one right hander, was selected in the tenth round of the 1988 draft, by the Chicago White Sox. He spent four years in the White Sox organization, and then went to the Detroit Tigers system. He was released there and moved on to the Houston Astros organization.

After just six games in the minors, he was brought up to the Astros staff in late April. On May 5th 1994 he earned his first save, it came in Cincinnati over the Reds. From there he was used as a closer & saved 16 games by the All Star break. He was the teams closer until Todd Jones took over the spot by the end of the season, he would take over the role in the next two years as well.

Despite only pitching in 42 games in 1994 (39 innings) Hudek had 16 saves going 0-2, while posting a 2.97 ERA. He made the All Star team & came in second in the Rookie of the Year voting. He would spend four years in Houston, eventually becoming a middle reliever.

In the winter of 1997 was traded to the New York Mets, for the troubled Carl Everett. Hudek debuted for the Mets, in the second game of the season, allowing a run in the Mets 6-5 loss to the Philadelphia Phillies at Shea Stadium. Hudek allowed runs in his first four Mets appearances & on April 28th he allowed a walk off RBI single to the Astros; Sean Berry in Houston.

In June he allowed two straight losses in appearances on the 9th & 14th respectively. On June 23rd he earned a victory during an interleague game at Baltimore pitching 1.1 innings of work against the Orioles. He would pitch in 28 games for the '98 Mets, going 1-4 with a 4.00 ERA. In 27 innings of work, the hard thrower struck out 28 batters in 27 innings of work, walking 19.

On July 1st he was traded to the Cincinnati Reds for Lenny Harris, who would turn out to be an excellent pinch hitter for the Mets. Hurdek pitched for three teams in 1999 (the Cincinnati Reds, Atlanta Braves & Toronto Blue Jays) ending his MLB career by the end of the year.

 In a six season career he was 10-15 with 29 saves, posting a 4.43 ERA with 206 strike outs & 123 walks allowed in 201 innings pitched in 194 games.

Retirement: After his playing days he opened the John Hudek All-Star Baseball Academy in Sugarland, Texas. He also coaches baseball in the Houston area.

Hudek's daughter; Sarah Hudek, is a pitcher with at George Ranch High School, not on an all girls team but on a varsity baseball team. A law put into place in 1972, permits girls & boys to play at the level, Sarah is one of many girls who do play on varsity baseball teams not designated just for girls.

Sarah said: "I was still pretty young when dad played, but he owned batting cages. I literally was up there every day and watched other professionals teach other kids, and I was around it all day."

Said John Hudek: "When she was a baby, she literally picked up a baseball, and a friend of ours took a picture of her holding it. And she was holding it with her left hand, so I was like, 'Well … ' "


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