Billy Hatcher

The speedy Hatcher was traded from the Cubs to the Astros in December 1985 and took over as Houston’s primary leadoff man and center fielder the next season. He hit .258 with 38 stolen bases that year as the Astros won 96 games and an NL West title, but his most memorable contribution came during the club’s epic Game Six NLCS loss to the Mets. With Houston trailing by a run in the bottom of the 14th inning, Hatcher (who had connected for just six round trippers during the regular season) launched a drive deep down the left field line that landed just foul, but moments later lined a Jesse Orosco delivery off the left field foul screen to tie the game. The Mets would go on to win the game and the series in the 16th inning.

Hatcher was ejected from a September 1, 1987 game against Chicago when the barrel of his bat split, revealing it had been corked. He claimed he had no idea the bat had been doctored, that he had borrowed it from reliever Dave Smith, who had used it only during batting practice. Nevertheless, Hatcher received a 10-day suspension. Whatever the reason, that season proved to be Hatcher’s most successful at the plate, as he set career bests with a .296 batting average, 11 home runs, 63 RBIs, 96 runs scored and 53 stolen bases (ranking third in the NL). Hatcher dropped to .268 with seven home runs the next year, and was dealt to Pittsburgh in August 1989. The Pirates turned around and sent him to Cincinnati the next April. Hatcher batted .276 with 30 steals for the Reds, who went wire-to-wire in winning the NL West, but again saved his best for the post-season. In Cincinnati’s stunning four-game upset of the A’s in the Fall Classic, Hatcher tied Thurman Munson‘s World Series record with seven consecutive hits over the first two games, and finished the series with nine hits (including four doubles and a triple) in 12 at-bats for a .750 clip.

After one more year in the Queen City, the oft-traveled Hatcher was sent to Boston in July 1992. He spent his last full-time season in a Red Sox uniform, batting .287 with nine home runs in 1993. He was on the move again in 1994 after Boston dealt him to Philadelphia that May, and closed out his career with six games for Texas the next season.