Thursday, June 04, 2009

#114 Jim Hickman

#114 Jim Hickman
I'm not sure of the reason for Jim Hickman's anguished look in this photo. Maybe someone just called him "Piano Legs". Then again, maybe it's just the general sort of anguish that came with playing for the Mets in the 1960s. Jim had a fascinating, trivia-rich career, which I never would have expected. It's days like this that I'm happy to be doing this blog!

Fun facts about Jim Hickman:

-A proud son of Henning, TN, Jim signed with the Cardinals in 1956 as an amateur free agent.

-Languished in the St. Louis organization for six years before being claimed by the Mets in the Expansion Draft.

-Was a fairly average player as a Met, hitting double-digit home runs for four straight seasons and batting .241.

-Did have several landmark performances in New York, including the first cycle in team history. It was a natural cycle, in that he hit in order: single, then double, then triple, then home run. Walloped the last home run in the Polo Grounds on Sept. 18, 1963. On Sept. 3, 1965 he became the first Met to hit three home runs in a game (all off of Ray Sadecki).

-Was the last of the original Mets to leave the team when he was traded to the Dodgers in December 1966 with Ron Hunt for Tommy Davis and Derrell Griffith. Had a terrible year in L.A., but did pitch two decent innings on June 23, allowing only a solo home run to Willie Mays.

-Received more regular playing time after being traded to the Cubs, and hit 89 home runs in a four-year span from 1969-1972. This included a monster year in 1970, when he posted career highs across the board (102 R, 33 2B, 32 HR, 115 RBI, .315/.419/.582). He delivered the hit that allowed Pete Rose to pancake Ray Fosse and win that year's All-Star game. For his efforts, Hickman (who had hit .237 in 1969) was the 1970 N.L. Comeback Player of the Year.

-Had a flair for the dramatic, hitting seven walk-off home runs in total. One of these was a grand slam against the Cubs on Aug. 9, 1963, and it snapped Mets pitcher Roger Craig's record 18-game losing streak!

-Wore out future Hall of Famer Steve Carlton. In 69 trips to the plate against "Lefty", Jim hit .293 with two triples and four home runs and racked up a .975 OPS.

-Retired in 1974 as a career .252 hitter with 159 HR and 560 RBI in a 13-year career.

-Served as a coach for the 1999 Clinton Lumber Kings, a Class A affiliate of the Reds.
#114 Jim Hickman (back)


  1. Glad you mentioned his "great" years as a Cubbie.

  2. Steve - Sure thing! The thing that amazes me about these cards is how often I come across a guy I've never heard of or have a vague familiarity with, and it turns out that he had a solid career. There's always more to learn.

  3. Hickman had that same constipated look on his face on every card he appeared on. I always liked him as a ballplayer, though.

  4. Anon - Maybe the Topps photographers just ambushed him every year for kicks!