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Top 100 Red Sox, #Not at all in the top 100: Billy Hatcher.

Billy Hatcher was born William Augustus Hatcher on October 4th, 1960, in Williams, Arizona. His career in MLB spanned from 1984-1995, with time spent in Chicago(N), Houston, Pittsburgh, Cincinatti, Boston, Philadelphia, and Texas. Hatcher's career line of .264/.312/.364 could be described charitably as mediocre. His main asset was his speed (218 SBs), but the highest .OBP he ever put up in a season was .352, which hardly made him the best candidate as a leadoff hitter. Still, Hatcher did manage to spend 12 seasons in the big leagues and make a few memories for baseball fans in the process.

1986 NLCS, Houston Astros.

Hatcher was actually in his first full season when the Astros got to the playoffs in 1986. His stat line that season was .258/.302/.356, so just imagine how passionately we'd be calling for his head with the way we see the game today. He made the postseason roster, but was hardly expected to deliver any kind of heroics. However, he did just that in the 14th inning of Game 6. Retrosheet. The Mets had pulled ahead in the top of the inning, but Hatcher, with 6 HRs in 419 ABs in the regular season, hit one off of Jesse Orosco in the bottom half of the inning. As we all know, the Mets did win the game since they were available to play us in the World Series, but Hatcher had come through when his team needed him the most.

A dark day in Houston, 1987.

I'd be remiss to not acknowledge this incident. Billy Hatcher was once caught using a corked bat. His single was nullified, and Hatcher was ejected. Billy received a 10-game suspension, despite his protests that the bat belonged to Houston pitcher Dave Smith. According to Wikipedia, this claim is not widely believed. However, Nolan Ryan offers evidence to at least somewhat corroborate Hatcher's story:

You could argue both sides of the Hatcher case. I have had teammates borrow my bats, looking for one that felt good, trying to shake off a slump...but you want to give Billy Hatcher the benefit of the doubt. -Nolan Ryan, Kings of the Hill
There's more to the quote, but the gist is that the bat was indeed Smith's. Nolan does admit that Billy probably should have known what was in the bat, since the Astros pitchers of the 80s often had home run contests in BP with bats they all altered at home.

1990 WS, Cincinatti Reds.

The story of the 1990 WS is that the Reds swept the Oakland A's. They were the benfactors of a dominant pitching performance by Jose Rijo: 2-0, 0.59 ERA, 15.1 IP, 5 K. They were also the benefactors of a great hitting performance from Billy Hatcher: 12 ABs, 9 H, 6 R, 4 2B, 1 3B. .750/.800/1.250, for a 4 game OPS of 2.050. This was important for Hatcher, who could feel some sense of redemption after the corked bat incident in 1987.

The Main Event. August 3rd, 1992. Boston Red Sox.

Billy was supposed to bring an element of speed when he joined the Red Sox in 1992. The Sox traded Tom Bolton to the Reds in order to acquire him.

Hatcher provided some speed, but his 22 stolen bases in 255 games were hardly what the FO was looking for when they traded for him. His 11 HRs in the same amount of games weren't awe-inspiring either. So why do I remember him? Because of this:

RED SOX 3RD: Valentin singled to left; Boggs grounded out
(second to first) [Valentin to second]; Hatcher doubled
[Valentin scored]; Plantier grounded out (second to first)
[Hatcher to third]; Hatcher stole home; Brunansky struck out; 2
R, 2 H, 0 E, 0 LOB. Blue Jays 0, Red Sox 2.
There weren't a lot of bright moments for the Red Sox that season (73-89, good for last place in the AL East), but that just made Hatcher's steal of home all the brighter. The writing had been on the wall as far as playoff hopes go, and Billy was able to create some excitement. There is even a website dedicated to the moment.

I'll always remember Billy, and if you happen to end up in Cincinatti to watch Bronson this season, make sure to notice their first base coach, a man who for one night in 1992, made the last-place Red Sox feel like an exciting team again.