Card-by-Yankees Card: The 1977 Topps Set, Cards #507, Mike Hegan (Article 99)
by Paul Semendinger
(Continuing a series…)
I know a lot about a lot of baseball players, especially Yankees, but, until I wrote this article, I didn’t know much about Mike Hegan. He was just one of those players, one of a long list of guys, who never left much of an impact on me as I studied and learned about the game.
In my mind, Mike Hegan was a player like Richie Hebner. I remembering him being good, sometimes very good. I think of him as having a long career, with the end coming slowly as he wound down as a lefty pinch-hitter-type.
I do know he was a Yankee, briefly…
Mike Hegan did have somewhat long playing career. His first at bat came in 1964, his last in 1977.
In 1969, Mike Hegan, who did feature prominently in Ball Four, made his lone All-Star game appearance. That season, for the Seattle Pilots, he batted .292/8/37. Good, the batting average, at least… not great. All that being said, Mike Hegan was the first player the Pilots selected in their expansion draft. He also hit the first home run in Pilots’ history.
I always assumed that Mike Hegan had more power, but he topped 10 homers in only one season in his career – when he hit eleven in 1970.
Mike Hegan’s best season may have been 1972 when he played for the Oakland A’s. In 98 games that year, he batted .329. When one looks closer at those numbers, something amazing pops out. In 98 games that year, Hegan had only 91 at bats. I wasn’t watching baseball in 1972 (I was four-years-old), but this is how I picture him as a player – a good lefty bat off the bench. It seems he was exactly that in 1972. He was a World Champion with the A’s that year.
In my mind, I also pictured Mike Hegan as a “plus” fielder at first base. If a team didn’t use him to pinch-hit, he could man the bag well in the late innings. Looking at his dWAR numbers though (career -2.6) that perspective comes into question. Still he had set the record for consecutive errorless games (178) at first base. That record lasted until it was bested by Steve Garvey in 1984.
One thing I also learned was that Hegan was a Yankee at two different times. Hegan came up with the Yankees in 1964 and went up and won with them until he was purchased by the Seattle Pilots in 1968. In his first go-around with the Yankees, Hegan played in just 86 games. He did not appear in the Major Leagues at all in 1965 or 1968, although he did appear as a pinch-runner in the 1964 World Series and scored a run.
Hegan’s second stint with the Yankees came in 1973 and 1974. He played in 55 games and batted .261 with 8 homers.
Even though his career went from the Yankees to the Pilots to the A’s to the Yankees and then to the Brewers, Mike Hegan was never traded for any other player. Every deal was a purchase, except for when the A’s sent him to the Yankees on a “conditional deal” (whatever that was).