Tuesday, August 10, 2010
#241) RICHIE HEBNER
Richie Hebner was traded along with Jose Moreno by the Philadelphia Phillies to the New York Mets in exchange for Nino Espinosa on March 27, 1979. The veteran was brought in to serve as the team's third baseman and to provide some much needed left-handed power. "He never wanted to play in New York, he defied the Mets to obtain him in a trade," said Mets broadcaster and analyst, Howie Rose. "They did trade for him. He came here, and was absolutely miserable—and played like it."
Hebner did lead the team with 79 RBIs, but hit only 10 home runs. His .268 batting average for the season was highlighted by a four hit performance at Shea Stadium. That occurring on May 19th in a 12-inning loss to the St. Louis Cardinals.
The Mets traded Hebner to the Detroit Tigers in exchange for Jerry Morales and Phil Mankowski on October 31, 1979. Later, Mets General Manager Joe McDonald revealed, " Richie hated crowds and traffic," he told the Sporting News. "He went into Manhattan only once all the time he was here."
On his first year of addition to the Baseball Hall of Fame ballot he even received one vote.
During the off-seasons of his long baseball career he joined the family business. Hebner would work with his father, and brother Dennis digging graves in a West Roxbury, Massachusetts cemetery. "Whenever I see Hebner," said former teammate George "Doc" Medich, "he'll say, 'If you ever screw up, keep me in mind.'" In later years he has driven a hearse for a friend that operates three funeral homes in the Boston area.
Following his 18-year major league playing career he became a batting coach for the Boston Red Sox in 1989. He has continued to remain in the game at the minor-league level as either a manager or coach long after that. Richie accepted the hitting coach position for the Norfolk Tides in 2010. "I've always said I'm not gonna get fired for laziness," Hebner stated. "I put the time in. I tell people when you hire me you get your money's worth, because I'm not afraid to work."
Richie Hebner signed his card in the set for me before the Norfolk Tides and Indianapolis Indians game at Victory Field on August 9, 2010.