Billy Hunter (baseball)

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Billy Hunter
BillyHunter1954bowman.jpg
Shortstop
Born: (1928-06-04) June 4, 1928 (age 86)
Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania
Batted: Right Threw: Right
MLB debut
April 14, 1953 for the St. Louis Browns
Last MLB appearance
September 27, 1958 for the Cleveland Indians
Career statistics
Batting average .219
Hits 410
Runs batted in 144
Teams

As Player

As Manager

Career highlights and awards

Gordon William Hunter (born June 4, 1928) is a retired American shortstop, coach and manager in Major League Baseball.

A slick-fielding, light-hitting shortstop from Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, the right-handed-batting Hunter was originally signed by the Brooklyn Dodgers. With his path to the Majors blocked by Pee Wee Reese, he was sold to the St. Louis Browns of the American League on October 14, 1952, for $150,000 after leading the Texas League in fielding and stolen bases. Hunter was the starting shortstop for the last Browns club in 1953 and the first modern MLB Orioles team when the Brownies transferred to Baltimore in 1954. For the remainder of his career, however, he was a second-string infielder for the New York Yankees, Kansas City Athletics and Cleveland Indians. Hunter batted .219 in 630 games over his six-year (1953–1958) AL career.

When Hunter's playing career ended, he managed in the Baltimore farm system and became the Orioles' third-base coach in November 1963.[1] He performed that role for almost 14 seasons for four AL champions and two World Series winners. In late 1971, Hunter declined a chance to become Manager of the California Angels.[2]

Hunter left the Orioles on June 28, 1977, to take the helm of the Texas Rangers — the club's fourth skipper of the 1977 season (including Eddie Stanky, who signed to succeed Frank Lucchesi but returned to retirement after one game, and Connie Ryan, who managed six games in the interim between Stanky and Hunter).[3] Under Hunter, the Rangers won 60 of their final 93 games and climbed from fourth to second place in the American League West Division. Hopes were high for 1978, but the Rangers finished tied for second, five games behind the division-leading Kansas City Royals. During the season, Hunter had a confrontation with pitcher Dock Ellis on a team bus. Ellis was later quoted saying Hunter "may be Hitler, but he ain't making no lampshade out of me."[4] After turning down a five-year contract extension in midseason,[5] offered by Rangers' young owner, Brad Corbett, Hunter was fired with one day left in the campaign due to his poor relationship with his team. When asked if he was sorry he took the manager's job, Hunter replied "yes."[6]

Hunter's record over his one-and-a-half seasons was 146–108 (.575), but he never returned to the Major Leagues as a coach or manager though he claimed to have received a half dozen job offers in the winter of 1978.[7] He became head baseball coach and athletic director at Maryland's Towson State University, retiring in 1995.

He was a 1996 honoree into the Orioles Hall of Fame, inducted with Jerry Hoffberger and Cal Ripken, Sr. These three men were so well thought of in Baltimore that a crowd of 400 showed up at the luncheon at the Sheraton Inner Harbor Hotel.[8]

References[edit]

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Preceded by
Luke Appling
Baltimore Orioles third-base coach
1964–1977
Succeeded by
Cal Ripken, Sr.