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John Edward Hetki (May 12, 1922 – January 10, 2019) was a long relief pitcher in Major League Baseball who played for the Cincinnati Reds, St. Louis Browns and Pittsburgh Pirates in all or parts of eight seasons spanning 1945–54. Listed at 6 ft 1 in (1.85 m), 202 lb (92 kg), Hetki batted and threw right-handed. He was born in Leavenworth, Kansas.[1]

Johnny Hetki
Born: (1922-05-12)May 12, 1922
Leavenworth, Kansas
Died: January 10, 2019(2019-01-10) (aged 96)
Parma, Ohio
Batted: Right Threw: Right
MLB debut
September 14, 1945, for the Cincinnati Reds
Last MLB appearance
September 22, 1954, for the Pittsburgh Pirates
MLB statistics
Win–loss record18–26
Earned run average4.39
Games pitched214


Minor league careerEdit

Hetki first played in the Minor Leagues at the age of 18. He had a promising debut, winning 16 games and losing 10 for the Albuquerque Cardinals of the Arizona–Texas League in 1941.[2] Hetki then was signed by the Reds organization before the 1942 season, and he went 4–1 with a 2.16 ERA with the Birmingham Barons before joining the Ogden Reds, where he was 13–8 and led the Pioneer League with a 2.24 ERA. Overall, he finished the split season with a 17–9 record and a 2.22 ERA in 29 games pitched.[2] His career was interrupted, however, by two years of military service during World War II.[3]

Major league careerEdit

Returning to baseball in early 1945, Hetki made his major league debut with the Reds in September of that year. He went 1–2 with a 3.58 ERA in two starts and three relief appearances. His most productive season came in 1946, when he finished 6–6 with a 2.99 ERA in 32 games, including 11 starts and four complete games. Hetki was with the Reds through the 1950 season, spending part of this time in the minor leagues. As a result, in 1949 he went 16–14 for the Syracuse Chiefs of the International League, ending fifth in the league in wins and second in innings (250) behind Al Widmar (294).[4] He then was purchased by the St. Louis Browns from Cincinnati in October 1950.[1]

Hetki spent 1951 with the Toronto Maple Leafs, and this time he led the International League with 19 victories and 256 innings pitched, while tying for second in ERA with Karl Drews (2.85) behind Jackie Collum (2.80).[5] He was called up by the Browns in 1952 and appeared in only three outings for St. Louis, going 0–1. After that, he was selected by the Pittsburgh Pirates from the Browns in the 1952 Rule V Draft. Working mostly out of the bullpen, Hetki won 3 and lost 6 for the Pirates in 1953 and went 4–4 in 1954, leading the National League in games finished (46) in that last season.[1]

Overall, Hetki posted an 18–26 record with a 4.39 ERA and 13 saves in 214 pitching appearances (23 starts), striking out 175 batters while walking 185 in 525​13 innings of work.[1] Additionally, he went 101–71 with an ERA of 3.27 in eight Minor League seasons between 1942 and 1956.[2]

Winter league careerEdit

In between, Hetki played winter ball from 1951–52 with the Navegantes del Magallanes club of the Venezuelan Professional Baseball League, collecting an 18–12 record with a 3.26 ERA in 52 games during the two seasons.[6] On February 14, 1952, Hetki made history during the longest game played in Winter League history, as Magallanes and Cervecería Caracas battled to a 3–3, 18–inning tie game which lasted three hours and ten minutes. Hetki hurled all 18 innings for Magallanes, setting a record for a pitcher that still stands.[7][8]

Hetki later pitched two complete games for the VPBL champion Magallanes in the 1952 Caribbean Series, including an 11-inning, 2–1 victory against Panama's champion Carta Vieja Yankees.[9]

Later yearsEdit

After baseball, Hetki worked for several years as a traffic foreman for Simpkins Industries in Cleveland, Ohio.[3] He moved to Parma, Ohio, after retiring. He died on January 10, 2019.[10]


  1. ^ a b c d "Johnny Hetki Statistics and History". Retrieved August 8, 2016.
  2. ^ a b c "Johnny Hetki Register Statistics & History". Retrieved August 8, 2016.
  3. ^ a b "Johnny Hetki - Baseball in Wartime". Retrieved August 8, 2016.
  4. ^ "1949 International League Pitching Leaders". Retrieved August 8, 2016.
  5. ^ "1951 International League Pitching Leaders". Retrieved August 8, 2016.
  6. ^ Venezuelan Winter League statistics. Pelota Binaria. Retrieved on December 9, 2018.
  7. ^ Bjarkman, Peter (1994). Baseball with a Latin Beat: A History of the Latin American Game. McFarland & Company. ISBN 978-0-89950-973-0
  8. ^ "Magallanes Mania - Beisbol Venezolano: Historia del Magallanes (1946 - 1956)" (in Spanish). Retrieved August 8, 2016.
  9. ^ Nuñez, José Antero (1994). Serie del Caribe de la Habana a Puerto La Cruz. JAN Editor. ISBN 980-07-2389-7
  10. ^ "John E. Hetki". Retrieved January 11, 2019.

External linksEdit