Jim Hickman (1960s outfielder)
|Outfielder / First baseman|
May 10, 1937 |
|April 14, 1962, for the New York Mets|
|Last MLB appearance|
|July 14, 1974, for the St. Louis Cardinals|
|Runs batted in||560|
|Career highlights and awards|
James Lucius Hickman (born May 10, 1937) is a former Major League Baseball player.
Hickman was born in Henning, Tennessee. Signed by the St. Louis Cardinals as an amateur free agent prior to the 1956 season, he spent six seasons in the Cardinals’ farm system until he was selected by the New York Mets in the expansion draft. In his five seasons with the Mets, with whom he played 624 games, Hickman batted .241 with 60 home runs with 210 RBI.
Hickman has earned several places in Mets history. He was the first Met to hit for the cycle, accomplishing the feat in a 7-3 victory over the St. Louis Cardinals at the Polo Grounds on August 7, 1963; the cycle is currently one of 14 natural cycles in Major League history. A month later, on September 18, he hit the last home run ever hit at the Polo Grounds, a solo against Chris Short of the Philadelphia Phillies in a 5-1 Mets' loss, in the final game ever played at that stadium. Hickman was also the first Met to hit three home runs in one game, at Sportsman's Park on September 3, 1965, in a 6-3 victory over the Cardinals. All three home runs were hit off Ray Sadecki. Finally, he was the last of the Original Mets, when he was traded to the Dodgers (along with infielder Ron Hunt) for outfielder Tommy Davis on November 29, 1966. Hickman also set a pair of Shea Stadium firsts, earning the team's first walk and first batter hit by pitch, both accomplished in the team's inaugural game at the stadium, a 4-3 loss to the Pittsburgh Pirates on April 17, 1964.
Hickman had his best season in 1970 while with the Cubs. After playing in only 198 games from 1966-1968 and batting only .237 in 1969, he hit .315 with 162 hits, 33 doubles, 32 home runs, 115 runs batted in, 102 runs scored and 93 walks—all career highs which won him the National League Comeback Player of the Year Award and placed him 8th in the NL Most Valuable Player balloting. He also made his only All-Star appearance at the Cincinnati Reds' newly opened Riverfront Stadium where, in the 12th inning, his RBI single drove in hometown favorite Pete Rose for the winning run, Rose barreling over Cleveland Indian catcher Ray Fosse to score the run. Like Hickman, the pitchers of record were also Tennessee natives: Claude Osteen, Hickman's Dodger teammate in 1967, was the winning pitcher, while Hickman collected the walk-off single off Clyde Wright—his eventual 1970 American League Comeback Player of the Year counterpart.
In his 13-year career, Hickman batted .252 with 159 home runs and 560 RBIs in 1421 games played.
Walk-offs and other clutch hits
Hickman gained a reputation as an exceptional clutch hitter, particularly during his tenure with the Cubs when he hit several walk-off home runs and other clutch homers for the club.
One of them came on May 16, 1971, at Wrigley Field, when he helped rookie relief pitcher Earl Stephenson earn his first big league win. Hickman hit a 2-run game-winner in the bottom of the 10th inning against the San Diego Padres. Stephenson had given up a run in the top of the 10th.
Although 1970 was his banner year, Hickman came through in 1969 as well. Even as the Cubs were beginning to struggle toward the end of August, Hickman hit a pair of homers against the Houston Astros on August 23  including a grand slam in the 7th inning that iced the game. Ron Santo, scoring just ahead of Hickman, was so happy he put a near choke-hold hug on Hickman as he crossed the plate, a moment discussed by Santo in This Old Cub. On June 22, Hickman had hit a walk-off 2-run homer, capping a 4-run ninth inning rally against the Montreal Expos. 
Hickman also had some clutch hits with the Mets. He came to the rescue of pitcher Roger Craig on August 9, 1963, hitting a game-winning grand slam off Lindy McDaniel of the Cubs and ending Craig's 18-game losing streak.  The homer was probably the shortest in Hickman's career, as it grazed the overhanging left field upper deck at the Polo Grounds, even as Billy Williams was camping under it hoping to catch it.