Friday, October 28, 2011
#191) JACK HEIDEMANN
Jack Heidemann was traded from the St. Louis Cardinals along with Mike Vail to the New York Mets in exchange for Teddy Martinez on December 11, 1974. The Texas native had been a former first round draft pick of the Cleveland Indians. He joined New York with strong expectations. "I thought I would get a lot of playing time since Bud Harrelson had a knee operation." shared Heidemann. "I played all spring training, but did not start the season opener." Jack made his Mets debut the next game as a pinch-runner, and remained in the game at shortstop. He delivered a base hit in his first at-bat in a New York uniform.
Heidemann has fond memories of being around great players like, Tom Seaver, Jerry Koosman, Jon Matlack, and Rusty Staub. As well as working for Manager Yogi Berra, and Coach Willie Mays. He formed a friendship with his roommate that season, Ed Kranepool. Check out this awesome video of Jack with other members of the 1975 Mets team during "Camera Day" at Shea Stadium. (Heidemann is uniform #12 at the 2:10 mark.)
The season saw Jack serving as the team's backup shortstop. He would appear in 61 games, hitting one home run, with 16 RBIs, and a .214 batting average.
"The Mets loved Buddy Harrelson....." explained Heidemann. So he was not surprised that when the 1976 team broke camp in Florida, he started the new season with Triple-A Tidewater. Jack admits being disappointed. "But, I felt I would get recalled soon. Options are a part of the game if a player has them left." he said. "Sometimes they are used as a tool to get another player on the roster. With no regard to the player with options remaining."
Jack hit for a scorching .356 batting average with the Tides, and was recalled to New York in mid-June. After just five appearances with the Mets, he was traded to the Milwaukee Brewers in exchange for Tom Diedel on June 22, 1976. He still recalls riding the subway back to Shea Stadium following the trade announcement. "A very empty feeling in the clubhouse." said Heidemann.
In Milwaukee he roomed with the Brewers young shortstop, Robin Yount, and lockered next to the legendary, Hank Aaron. "Again, I thought I would get more playing time." Jack offered. "Then, they had a guy (Paul Molitor) they said they had to give a chance to play."
Once he retired from the game, Heidemann went straight into real estate sales in Arizona. "Becoming completely out of touch with baseball", and enjoying over 30 years of being a realtor until semi-retiring from that in 2011. "Slowing the lifestyle down." said the grandfather of six. Jack became active in the Arizona Major League Alumni organization. Making appearances at their clinics and golf outings in the area.
Jack Heidemann signed his card in the set for me from an autograph mailed to his office at Realty Executives on December 29, 2008.