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Jim Hickman (1937 - 2016)

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Jim Hickman (1937 - 2016)

Jim Hickman, a professional baseball outfielder who played for four teams during the 1960s and ‘70s, died June 25, 2016, according to multiple news sources. He was 79.

Hickman’s death, in a hospital in Tennessee, was announced by the Garner Funeral Home in Ripley, Tennessee. The funeral home did not disclose the cause of death, only noting that he’d had a lengthy illness.

Fans of the 1970 Chicago Cubs most likely remember Hickman, who enjoyed his best season while playing for the team, as a clutch hitter. He also had a knack for hitting several walk-off home runs for the Cubs. During the season, he batted .315 and had 162 hits, 33 doubles, 32 home runs, 115 RBIs, 102 runs scored, and 93 walks. Those seven statistics marked career highs for Hickman. He ended up winning the National League’s Comeback Player of the Year Award that year.

Also in 1970, Hickman played in the All-Star game for the first and only time in his 12-year career. He had a memorable at-bat in the 12th inning with his RBI single. Cincinnati Reds hitter Pete Rose famously collided with Cleveland Indians catcher Ray Fosse to score the winning run.

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Hickman, who was born May 10, 1937, in Henning, Tennessee, played for the Cubs from 1968 to 1973. He had previously played for the New York Mets, which selected him in the expansion draft. Mets fans of that era may remember Hickman for being the first Met to hit for the cycle, in 1963, one year after his Major League Baseball debut. He played with the Mets from 1962 to 1966. He also played one year for the Los Angeles Dodgers, in 1967, and ended his MLB career with the St. Louis Cardinals at the end of the 1974 season.

Cubs legend Billy Williams, a member of the National Baseball Hall of Fame, had high praise for 6-foot-4 Hickman. “Hick’ was a good player,” Williams told George Castle, the historian of the Chicago Baseball Museum, in a 2014 interview. “When he came over here, he had some tremendous years. He had about a ‘7’ or ‘8’ arm. He ran real good for a big guy. He was one of those unique guys, a right-handed hitter, a good fastball, low-ball hitter. … He didn’t hardly miss the fastball.”

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