William Clyde Hitchcock (July 31, 1916 – April 9, 2006) was an American professional baseball infielder, coach, manager, and scout in Major League Baseball (MLB). In Minor League Baseball, he served as president of the Double-A Southern League in 1971–80. His older brother, Jimmy Hitchcock, played briefly for the 1938 Boston Braves.
Hitchcock as a Detroit Tigers coach in 1957
|Infielder / Manager|
|Born: July 31, 1916|
|Died: April 9, 2006 (aged 89)|
|April 14, 1942, for the Detroit Tigers|
|Last MLB appearance|
|August 27, 1953, for the Detroit Tigers|
|Runs batted in||257|
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 to 1953. Overall, he batted .243 with 547 hits and 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, on August 3 at Yankee Stadium.
In 1962, Hitchcock was named the full-time manager of the Baltimore Orioles. But in his two seasons at the helm, the ballclub barely broke the .500 mark (163–161). Hitchcock was dismissed on September 29 after the final game of the 1963 campaign in which the fourth-place Orioles finished 18½ games behind the Yankees, 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 of that year 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 in 1968–71 before taking over as president of the Southern League.
Southern League presidencyEdit
Hitchcock became president of the Southern League in August 1971. During his presidency, the league added new teams, expanded its playoffs, and introduced split-season play. Other improvements included stadium refurbishments and efforts to make the league more family-friendly. Attendance figures rose dramatically during his tenure, from 333,500 in 1971 to over 1.7 million in 1980. The Southern League championship trophy is named after Hitchcock, and in 1980 he was presented with the King of Baseball award given by Minor League Baseball. He stepped down from the presidency in 1980.
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.