After bouncing around for ten years, Hudler won a platoon job at second base and shortstop with the 1988 Expos and reached new highs in every category, hitting .273 and stealing 29 bases. But the emergence of Delino DeShields and the steady play of Spike Owen ended Hudler’s chances for regular playing time in the Montreal infield.
Hudler spent most of the 1990s coming off the bench as the quintessential utilityman with the Cardinals, Angels and Phillies. Always hustling, he won respect for his gung-ho attitude on the field and charismatic enthusiasm off it. Said the San Diego Union-Tribune in 1995, “His infectious manner of speech seems part-evangelist, part-hippie, part 12-year-old Little Leaguer.”
Hudler, who grew up in Fresno, was a prep All-American as a wide receiver in 1977. Recruited by many schools as a football player (Joe Montana showed him around the Notre Dame campus) he decided to pursue baseball instead. “I’m a football player in a baseball player’s body,” Hudler once said. “When I hit the ball, I become wild abandon.”
Hudler spent 1993 with the Yakult Swallows of the Japan League. There he earned the nickname “Worm Eater” for the living creatures on which he often snacked in the club’s dugout.