Monday, August 08, 2011

#471 Billy Hoeft

#471 Billy Hoeft
Believe it or not, this is the LAST card I have in the hopper to post! It could be a while before I get ahold of those 17 elusive cards that stand between me and completion, so the updates are going to be less frequent than they have been in recent months. However, I'm thinking that I might go back and give the first few card posts a re-do, since it took a while for me to focus more in-depth on each individual featured player. So this isn't goodbye, it's just "smell ya later".

Anyhow, this finely rounded card comes from Ed. Billy Hoeft is hatless player number 1,345 (an approximate guess) in the set, having gone from the Braves to the Tigers in the offseason. By the time the card was in stores, it was already outdated; Detroit released Hoeft before the season started, and he joined the Cubs in May 1965. Whoops!

Fun facts about Billy Hoeft:

-Billy was born in Oshkosh, WI and signed with the Tigers out of high school in 1950.

-He was only 20 when he made it to the majors in 1952. He earned his first career save and each of his first two wins in games vs. the Yankees, and finished 2-7 with 4 saves and a 4.32 ERA.

-On September 7, 1953, he went the distance in a 4-2 win over the White Sox. He scattered eight hits and performed a rare feat by striking out the side (Jim Rivera, Mike Fornieles, and Chico Carrasquel) on just nine pitches in the top of the seventh inning!

-After taking his lumps for a few years, the light went on for Hoeft in 1955. He led the American League with 7 shutouts en route to a team-best 16-7 record, 2.99 ERA, and 133 strikeouts. He also made the only All-Star team of his career.

-Despite seeing his ERA jump to 4.06 in 1956, Billy won 20 games against 14 losses.

-He hit two of his three career home runs on July 14, 1957, driving in three runs to help his own cause in a complete game 10-2 win over Hal Brown and the Orioles.

-He was unable to build on his early successes, and found himself working mostly out of the bullpen for three teams in 1959, going from Detroit to Boston to Baltimore.

-Billy's most successful campaign as a reliever came in 1961, when he went 7-4 with 3 saves, a 2.02 ERA, and 100 strikeouts in 138 innings in 35 games (12 starts) for the Orioles.

-He also spent time with the Giants, Braves, and Cubs, retiring in 1966 after 15 years in the big leagues. He had a career record of 97-101 with 33 saves and a 3.94 ERA.

-After baseball, Hoeft sold printing equipment. He died of cancer at age 77 last year.
#471 Billy Hoeft (back)

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