Billy Hitchcock as a Detroit Tigers coach in 1957
|Third baseman/Second baseman/Shortstop|
July 31, 1916|
|Died: April 9, 2006
|Batted: Right||Threw: Right|
|April 14, 1942 for the Detroit Tigers|
|Last MLB appearance|
|August 27, 1953 for the Detroit Tigers|
|Runs batted in||257|
William Clyde Hitchcock (July 31, 1916 – April 9, 2006) was an American infielder, coach, manager and scout in Major League Baseball. In minor league baseball, he served as president of the Double-A Southern League from 1971–80. His older brother, Jimmy Hitchcock, played briefly for the 1938 Boston Braves.
Career in uniform
Born in Inverness, Alabama and a graduate of Auburn University, Hitchcock played all four infield positions during a nine-year American League active career. The right-handed batter and thrower stood 6 feet 1 inch (1.85 m) tall and weighed 185 pounds (84 kg). He broke in with the 1942 Detroit Tigers, spent three years in the Army Air Force in the Pacific during World War II, and resumed his Major League career from 1946–53. Overall, he batted .243 with five home runs in 703 games with the Tigers, Washington Senators, Boston Red Sox, St. Louis Browns and Philadelphia Athletics.
Between Triple-A managing assignments in 1954 and 1961, Hitchcock served a six-year (1955–60) term as the Tigers' third base coach. He also became a footnote to one of the most bizarre personnel transactions in baseball annals. On August 3, 1960, the Tigers and Cleveland Indians traded their managers, Jimmy Dykes for Joe Gordon. Hitchcock served as Detroit's interim skipper for one game while Gordon was en route from his Cleveland assignment, and the Tigers defeated the New York Yankees, 12–2. In 1962, Hitchcock was named the full-time manager of the Baltimore Orioles. But in his two seasons at the helm, the Orioles barely broke the .500 mark (163–161). At the end of the 1963 campaign, Hitchcock was replaced by Hank Bauer, and moved into Baltimore's minor league department as field coordinator. Then he became a scout for the Braves, whose general manager at the time was former Tiger player and executive John McHale.
Hitchcock began the 1966 season as a coach for the Atlanta Braves under Bobby Bragan during the club's first season in Atlanta. But when the Braves won only 52 of their first 111 games, Bragan was fired on August 9 and Hitchcock took over. The Braves won 33 of their last 51 games to finish fifth in the National League, and Hitchcock was invited back for 1967, but he was fired September 28 with the team in seventh place and three games remaining on the schedule. His career managing record was 274 wins, 261 losses (.514). Hitchcock then scouted for McHale and the Montreal Expos from 1968–71. In 1980 he was presented with the King of Baseball award given by Minor League Baseball.
Minor league executive, college athletic star
With Hitchcock as league president, the Southern League added new teams, expanded the playoffs and introduced split-season play. The league's attendance figures rose dramatically during his tenure, from 333,500 in 1971 to over 1.7 million in 1980. The league's championship trophy is named after him.
In addition to his baseball resume, Hitchcock also made a name for himself in college football and golf. As an All-Conference tailback, he led Auburn to its first bowl game (a 7-7 tie against Villanova on January 1, 1937). Later in life, he established the Billy Hitchcock Golf Tournament at his alma mater. In recognition of his contribution to the school, Auburn renamed its renovated baseball stadium "Hitchcock Field" in 2003. Also in that year, Baseball America named it the best college baseball facility in the country.
- Career statistics and player information from Baseball-Reference
- Billy Hitchcock at Find a Grave
- SABR biography