Wednesday, May 11, 2011

#497 Giants Rookie Stars: Ken Henderson and Jack Hiatt

#497 Giants Rookie Stars: Ken Henderson and Jack Hiatt
As I rifle through my baseball card collection, I find a very different-looking Ken Henderson another decade or so down the line from his rookie card. 1970s cards really are the gift that keeps on giving.

Fun facts about Ken Henderson:

-Ken was born in Carroll, IA, but attended high school in San Diego before signing with the Giants in 1964.

-Despite struggling greatly in his first pro season (.191 AVG/.268 SLG), he was jumped from Rookie ball to A to AAA in short order that year.

-San Francisco was sufficiently enamored with Henderson to keep him on the big league roster for the whole 1965 campaign, but used the 19-year-old sparingly. He batted .191 with a .277 on-base percentage in 83 trips to the plate. In a rare start on August 17, he went 2-for-4 with a run scored and a two-run double to account for all of the Giants' runs in a 3-2 victory over the Mets.

-In 1970, he became a regular in the San Fran outfield and hit .294 with 17 home runs and 88 RBI. He achieved career highs of 104 runs scored, 35 doubles, 20 steals, 87 walks, and a .394 on-base percentage.

-Joined the White Sox (along with Steve Stone) in a deal for pitcher Tom Bradley. Injuries cost him half of the 1973 season, but he rebounded to play all 162 games a year later. Ken hit .292 that year with 20 homers and a team-high 95 RBI while leading the American League in putouts by a center fielder.

-A switch-hitter, Henderson homered from both sides of the plate in a 4-2 victory over the Orioles on August 29, 1975. He got to lefty Ross Grimsley in the first inning, and victimized righty Wayne Garland in the eighth.

-He became a journeyman in the later period of his career, suiting up for the Braves, Rangers, Mets, Reds, and Cubs from 1976-1980. He retired as a .257 hitter in parts of 16 seasons, with a .343 on-base percentage, 122 home runs, and 576 RBI.

-On September 2, 1978, he hit a three-run pinch home run in the top of the 12th inning to lead the Reds to a 6-3 win over the Cardinals. It was one of five pinch homers in Ken's career.

-His cousin Kerry Dineen was an outfielder who played 16 games with the Yankees and Phillies, 1975-1978.

-Ken has worked in sales and marketing since hanging up his spikes, rejoining the Giants last year to sell luxury box suites at AT&T Park. He is married with four children and five grandchildren.

Fun facts about Jack Hiatt:

-Jack was a Bakersfield, CA native who signed with the Angels as a teenager in 1961.

-He was a very strong minor league hitter, compiling a career average of .299 and routinely reaching base above a 40% clip.

-The Angels called him up for the first time in September 1964, on the heels of a 23-homer season at AAA Hawaii. He notched 6 hits and 2 walks in 18 trips to the plate, including a walkoff pinch single off of Boston's Bob Heffner in his debut on September 7.

-Was traded prior to the 1965 season, going to the Giants in exchange for Jose Cardenal. Got very little playing time in San Francisco, totaling 290 plate appearances in 131 games from 1965-1967. Performed well in those limited opportunities, with a .280 average and .390 on-base percentage.

-Assumed the starting catcher's role in 1969 when Dick Dietz suffered a hand injury from a foul tip. In a four-game stretch from April 24-27, he hit .313/.421/1.063 (5-for-16) with 4 home runs and 12 RBI. He had the game of his life in a wild extra-inning affair April 25 vs. the Astros: a two-run homer in the first inning to give the Giants the lead, an RBI single in the eighth to tie it, and a walk-off grand slam in the 13th! That's 3-for-7 with 3 runs scored and 7 RBI if you're counting. Unfortunately, he couldn't keep it up and finished the year at .196 with 7 homers and 34 RBI.

-Jack spent the last three years of his big league career (1970-1972) as a part-timer with the Expos, Cubs, Astros, and Angels, finishing with a .251 average and .374 on-base percentage in parts of 9 seasons. He totaled 22 home runs and 154 RBI.

-Had a good track record against Claude Osteen (.371/.463/.486 in 41 PA) and Steve Carlton (.333 AVG, .394 OBP in 34 PA). Struggled against Gary Nolan (.111/.190/.167 in 21 PA).

-Hiatt was a talented pinch hitter, batting .296/.402/.426 in 127 tries over his career.

-Continued playing in the minors through the 1974 season.

-Worked in baseball for several decades after he quit playing. Was a minor-league manager for the Cubs (1975-1980), Angels (1982), Astros (1983), and Giants (1988). Also served as a big-league coach for the Cubs in 1981 and spent a number of years in the Giants front office, retiring as Director of Player Development in 2007.

#497 Giants Rookie Stars: Ken Henderson and Jack Hiatt (back)


  1. Growing up my best friend (and his father) were serious, 110%er Giant fans. I heard all about Henderson, Hiatt, to say nothing of Jim Hart, the Two Willies, Marichal, etc. ad nauseam. The upside was I got to tag along to a lot of NL games at Shea, a place my own father, whose baseball world was confined chiefly to the Bronx, barely even acknowledged.

    Tito Fuentes anecdotes, anyone?

  2. Bob - No Tito Fuentes anecdotes from me, but I do have (and love) his 1977 Topps card with the big white headband.