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Jim Hegan
Catcher
Born: August 3, 1920(1920-08-03)
Lynn, Massachusetts
Died: June 17, 1984 (aged 63)
Swampscott, Massachusetts
Batted: Right Threw: Right 
MLB debut
September 9, 1941 for the Cleveland Indians
Last MLB appearance
July 4, 1960 for the Chicago Cubs
Career statistics
Batting average     .228
Hits     1087
RBI     525
Teams
Career highlights and awards

James Edward Hegan (August 3, 1920 — June 17, 1984) was a professional baseball catcher and coach who spent almost 40 years in Major League Baseball.[1 ][2] While he was light hitting as an offensive player, he was notable for being one of the best defensive catchers of his era and a capable handler of pitching staffs. [3][4 ]

Contents

Major League career

Hegan was born in Lynn, Massachusetts.[1 ] He was drafted as an amateur free agent by the Cleveland Indians in 1938. [5] He made his major league debut with the Indians in 1941.[1 ] After appearing in 68 games in 1942, he went into the Coast Guard for the rest of World War II.[6] When he returned in 1946 he became the Indians regular starting catcher until 1956.[7] As a testament to Hegan's pitch calling skills, during this period, the Indians pitching staff was the best in baseball, leading the American League six times in earned run average.[4 ] Cleveland pitchers gave Hegan credit for part of their success.[8] Cleveland Indian Hall of Fame pitcher Bob Feller was quoted as saying,"He was one of the best defensive catchers in baseball history. Jim called a good game. We disagreed rarely. Jim was very good at keeping pitchers calm." [3]

Hegan was a member of the 1948 Indians team that defeated the Boston Braves in the 1948 World Series.[9] He was also a valuable member of the 1954 Indians team that won the American League pennant with a then-record 111 victories in a 154 game season.[10] He made the American League All-Star team five times during his playing career.[1 ] After the 1957 season, Hegan was traded to the Detroit Tigers. [5] He was traded several more times before ending his playing career in 1960 with the Chicago Cubs. [5]

In 1666 games played, Hegan had a 1087 hits for a .228 batting average, with 92 home runs and 525 runs batted in.[1 ] During his career, he led American League catchers in putouts, assists, double plays, total chances per game and fielding percentage three times and had a career fielding percentage of .990. [3] At the time of his retirement in 1960, his .990 career fielding percentage was second only to Buddy Rosar among retired catchers. Hegan caught three no hitters by Don Black (1947), Bob Lemon (1948) and Bob Feller (1951). [3] Hegan caught more twenty game winning pitchers than any catcher in major league history. Yankee Hall of Fame catcher, Bill Dickey, once said about Hegan's fielding, "If I had been able to catch like Hegan I wouldn't have needed to hit."[11]

Coaching career

When his active career ended in July 1960, Hegan became the bullpen coach for the New York Yankees, helping to coach future catching stand outs Thurmon Munson and Rick Dempsey.[12] He served with the Yankees through the 1973 season. He then moved with manager Ralph Houk to the Detroit Tigers for five years, through 1978. He finished his career in uniform back with the Yankees as a coach, and was serving as a scout for the Yankees when he died in Swampscott, Massachusetts, of a heart attack at the age of 63.

Hegan's son, Mike Hegan, was an All-Star first baseman who played major league baseball from 1964 to 1967, and is now a sports commentator for the Indians.

See also

External links

References

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