Orioles Card "O" the Day

An intersection of two of my passions: baseball cards and the Baltimore Orioles. Updated daily?

Friday, June 4, 2010

Vintage Fridays: Billy Hitchcock, 1962 Topps #121

Much like the newly deposed Dave Trembley, Billy Hitchcock was a good and kind man and a baseball lifer who was quickly cashiered when his Orioles club failed to live up to expectations. Hitchock had been a two-sport athlete at Auburn University, an All-American tailback who also played for the baseball team. He went on to play in the majors for nine years in the 1940s and 1950s as a light-hitting infielder. His big league career was interrupted by military service in World War II. After his retirement, he spent seven years coaching with the Tigers before opportunity came calling.

After the 1961 season, Baltimore hired Billy to fill the considerable shoes of Paul Richards, who had built the Orioles from a bottom-dweller to a promising young team in his seven-year tenure as manager and GM. But after winning 95 games under Richards and interim manager Lum Harris, the O's dipped to 77-85 in their first season under Hitchcock, falling from third place to seventh. He was given a second chance and the team improved to 86-76 and a fourth place finish in 1963, but it wasn't enough. The Birds fired their skipper and replaced him with Hank Bauer, who would guide the club to their first World Series title in his third year on the job.

Don't cry for Billy, who solidified his baseball legacy with a short stint at the helm of the Braves later in the decade as well as a successful ten-year run (1971-1980) as president of the Class AA Southern League. On his watch, the league's attendance increased nearly six-fold. He lived a long life, passing away in 2006 at age 89.

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