Danny Heep: 1986 World Champion Mets Outfielder / Pinch HItter (1983-1986)

Daniel William Heep was born on July 3, 1957, in San Antonio, Texas. The five foot eleven, left hand hitting Heep, began his baseball career as a pitcher. Heep attended St. Mary’s University in San Antonio, Texas, winning two All American honors, while earning a bachelor’s degree in Physical Education. He would eventually be elected to the schools Hall of Fame.

Heep was drafted as a second-round pick by the Houston Astros in 1978. In 1979 he was the Southern League’s MVP batting .327 with 21 HRs 30 doubles & 84 RBIs at AA Columbus. 

Astros Career: Heep got a late season call up, making his MLB debut on August 31st, against the New York Mets. He went 0-1 as a pinch hitter that day popping out to third base, off pitcher Mets Craig Swan.

The next year at AAA Tucson in the Pacific Coast League, Heep batted .343 with 17 HRs playing in 96 games. He got back to the Astros for 33 games that year, where he hit .276.

1980 NLCS: He had one at bat (0-1) in the 1980 NLCS loss to the Philadelphia Phillies. 

In 1981 he started back at AAA Tuscon, batting .337 overall. He got called up to Houston in May & then again in September being used, mostly as a pinch hitter, as well as a utility outfielder.

Heep saw more action in 1982, playing in 85 games, batting .237 with 14 doubles 4 HRs & 22 RBIs. On May 14th, he his first career HR, it came off the Chicago Cubs Dick Tidrow at the Astrodome. 

In December 1982 he was traded to the New York Mets for pitcher Mike Scott. 

Mets Career: In New York, Heep soon became one of the league’s top pinch hitters. He along with Rusty Staub, gave the Mets two dangerous, late inning, pinch hit threats.

1983: Heep made his Mets debut on April 7th, in the second game of the season. He batted in the 5th spot & played right field. He had a big day, getting three hits & scoring two runs in Craig Swan's 6-2 win over the Philadelphia Phillies.

He hit safely in his first four games, on April 13th, Heep had another three hit game & hit his first HR of the year, it came in Philadelphia off pitcher Dick Ruthven in a 10-9 loss to the Phillies. Two games later he hit another HR, this one in St. Louis in another Mets loss.

On April 27th, his sac fly off the Reds Tom Hume in the top of the 9th inning at Cincinnati was the games winning run. Heep was batting .400 by the end of April.

Trivia: That season Heep would set a Mets club record with four pinch hit HRs, hitting them all at home in Shea Stadium.

On May 6th he hit a pinch-hit HR off Mario Soto, against the Cincinnati Reds, it came in the bottom of the 8th inning helping the Mets to a 7-4 comeback win. In the first game of a series against his old teammates, Heep had two hits & two RBIs in the 6-4 loss to the Astros.

The next month, on June 14th, his bottom of the 8th inning HR off Dick Ruthven (who was now with the Cubs) put the Mets ahead in a 3-3 game. Chicago would tie it up but the Mets would win the game in the 11th inning, on Rusty Staub’s pinch hit RBI single.

He would hit pinch hit HRs in each of the next two months, both coming in Mets losses. At the start of August, he drove in six runs, in an eight-game span in which he played.

On October 2nd, Heep got the start in both ends of a double header against the Montreal Expos in Montreal. He hit a first inning HR off Chalie Lea, that was the only run scored in the game as the Mets & Walt Terrell won it 1-0. He had an RBI in the second game as well, Rusty Staub had the game winning walk off hit in that game.

In the 1983 season 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.

1984: Heep started out the year well going 4-7 as a pinch hitter in April & a combined 7-13 thru May.

On May 2nd, with the game tied at three in the bottom of the 9th inning, Heep tripled off the Cubs closer, Lee Smith. He came home to score the walk off game winning run when Keith Hernandez hit a sac fly to left.

On May 26th, in a game against the L.A. Dodgers, Hubie Brooks tied the game up at one with a 7th inning HR. Heep came in to pinch hit & doubled, he scored what turned out to be the winning run-on Wally Backman's single.

In the middle of June he got a few starts, due to Mets injured outfielders. Heep began with three multi hit games, including a three hit day on June 21st against the Phillies. He would hit safely in eight of nine games while batting .328 by late June. On June 23rd he hit a solo HR in the Mets 2-0 win over the Expos.

On July 3rd, his RBI single tied up the game against the Houston Astros, in the 6th inning. He scored the go ahead winning run when Keith Hernandez drove him in the next at bat. He kept his average up over .300 until the All Star break, but in the second half of the season he saw his average dropped to .231. He ended the year with one HR, nine doubles, two triples & 12 RBIs.

1985: In the second game of the season, Heep drew a bases loaded pinch hit walk, off former Mets reliever, Neil Allen. The walk ended up being the game winner, as the Mets had a 2-1 win over the rival St. Louis Cardinals.

On May 3rd, he had a big two hit, five RBI Day in a 9-4 win against the Cincinnati Reds. In the 4th inning, Heep drove in a run with a sac fly for his first RBI. In the 5th inning he then doubled with the bases loaded off Mario Soto. In the 7th inning another double drove in two more runs.

On May 15th he hit a HR off veteran Hall of Famer Phil Niekro, in a 5-3 win at Houston over the Astros. He had a hot first week of June filling in at right field for Daryl Strawberry, hitting three HRs while driving in six runs on the west coast road trip.

On June 2nd, Heep homered in San Diego a two-run shot off Greg Booker in a 7-3 Met win. The next day he hit a two run HR at Dodger Stadium off Ken Howell in a -4 loss. 

On Banner Day-June 9th, he was involved in a violent outfield collision with Mets rookie Terry Blocker. It came in the second game of a twin bill split against the St. Louis Cardinals. The play resulted in an inside-the-park grand slam for Terry Pendleton. 

On June 12th, his 8th inning HR off the Phillies Kent Tekulve tied up the game, in which the Mets went on to win 7-3.

Fourth of July Marathon: 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.

Heep hit .280 with 7 HRs 17 doubles a .341 on base % & 42 RBIs, appearing in 95 games. 

Mets Drama: During that season Heep was involved in some drama on a Mets team flight, getting into a fist fight with Darryl Strawberry. According to some accounts, Heep actually beat Straw up pretty badly. All made nice & everything was settled between the two, for the 1986 Mets championship season.

1
986 Championship Season:
  Heep got the start in the third game of the Mets season in a 9-7 win at Philadelphia. His third inning triple drove in Keith Hernandez & Gary Carter in what turned out to be the winning runs in the eventual Mets win.

On April 20th, he hit a three run HR off Kevin Gross in a 8-0 Mets win over the Phillies.

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 in St. Louis. They would win the next game & sweep the entire four game set, leading Cards manager Whitey Herzog to concede the division that early in the season.

Overall in the month of April, Heep hit .368 with seven hits & eight RBIs. 

He saw some regular playing time in early to mid-May, enjoying a personal seven game hit streak. On May 15th at the Astrodome he hit a two run HR off Nolan Ryan & collected two hits, in a 6-2 Mets win. 

In the first week of June, he had three multi-hit games, keeping his average up over .300 through the middle of the month. He was drawing a lot of walks to keep his on base percentage over .400% into July. 

On July 1st his RBI single off Danny Cox led Sid Fernandez & the Mets in a 2-1 win over the Cardinals. In August he hit two HRs including a two-run shot in the second game of a double header on August 17th.

In September he drove in eight runs as well as having four pinch hits in eight pinch hit appearances. On September 7th, the Mets were down 4-3 to the Padres at Shea, they scored three runs in the 6th inning for a comeback win, Heep walked & scored in that Mets 6th.

On September 25th, although the Mets had wrapped up the division, Heep helped win a game in Chicago with a pinch hit, two run, 9th inning double against the Cubs. He would lead the club in pinch hitting, batting .300 (9-for-30) in that role in the 1986 season, overall he hit .289 with five HRs, eight doubles, 33 RBIs & a .379 on base %.


Post Season-1986 NLCS: In the 1986 NLCS against the Houston Astros, Heep appeared in five games, getting four pinch hit at bats, collecting one hit. 

That hit came in the Game #1 Mets 1-0 loss at the Astrodome. In the Game #4 loss at Shea Stadium, Heep drove in the only run against Mike Scott, with an 8th inning pinch hit sac fly.

1986 World Series- Trivia: 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 (Games #3 & 4).

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 designated hitter at bat, he singled to center field off Boston's Oil Can Boyd, driving in Keith Hernandez & Gary Carter, putting New York up 3-0. They went on to a 7-1 win, their first victory of that series. It was his only hit in the World Series going 1-11 (.091) overall. 


Mets Career: In his Mets career Danny Heep played 395 games, batting .263 with 241 hits 21 HRs 46 doubles 4 triples 108 RBIs 113 walks & a .340 on base %.

Post Mets Career: After the 1986 season, the Mets chose not to sign him, he was let go to free agency and signed with the Los Angeles Dodgers for the next two years. He struggled in 1987 batting just .163 in 60 games in Los Angeles.

1988: Heep batted .242 playing in 95 games, winning another World Series with the Dodgers that season. He also got to pitch for an inning that season, just like his early days at St. Mary’s.

1988 Post Season- NLCS: In the 1988 NLCS win over his old Mets teammates, Heep had two plate appearances; striking out & drawing a walk. 

1988 World Series: In the shocking Dodger World Series sweep of the Oakland A's, Heep saw action in three games. He collected a double in the Dodgers 2-1 Game #3 loss

In the Game #4 Dodger win, Heep played the full game, collecting a hit, as well as a strike out. 

In 1989 Heep moved on to the Boston Red Sox playing there for two seasons in the twilight of his career.

In 1989 he had career highs in batting (.300) at-bats (320) hits (96) RBIs (49) & runs scored (36) playing 75 games in the outfield. 

He also pitched an inning there as well. 

Trivia: 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 with the Atlanta Braves in 1991, posting a.462 on base % while playing in just 14 games. He did not appear in the Braves postseason. 

Career Stats:
In his 13-season career, Heep played in four post seasons, winning two World Series Championships (1986 Mets & 1988 Dodgers). In his post season career he batted .148 (4-27) with three RBIs. 

Overall in his career he 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. 

He played 429 games in the outfield , 15 as the DH & pitched in two games.

Retirement: After playing he became a long time head coach for the University of the Incarnate Word in San Antonio, Texas, where he won two division championships through 2010. 

Heep also runs pro baseball camps in San Antonio Texas.

Honors: In May of 2016 Heep was on hand at Citi Field for the 30th Anniversary celebration of the 1986 Mets Championship team. Heep had also been on hand for the teams 20th Anniversary reunion at Shea Stadium as well.


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Family: Heep & his wife Jane have two children, a son & daughter.

Danny Heep is the nephew of former MLB catcher 
Matt Batts. Batts was a star baseball & football player at Baylor University, serving in the US Air Force in 1942. 

He was a fine defensive catcher who played for the Boston Red Sox (1947-1951) St. Louis Browns (1951) Detroit Tigers (1952-1954) Chicago White Sox (1954) and Cincinnati Reds (1955-1956).

In his ten year career Batts threw out 47% of would be base stealers, batting .269 lifetime with 503 hits 30 HRs 96 doubles & 229 RBIs in 883 games played.

Comments

Unknown said…
I was wondering when Heep would get some press on your site... Thanks. You can see me wearing my 1986 Heep Jersey at Citifield. Sec 515.. He is one of my all time favorite Mets...

Thanks again for the memories.. Love your site. Check it out everyday.

Dave.

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