This Day in Baseball History: April 3rd, 1968

He was 6’4″. I guess that’s tall.

On April 3, 1968:

The Detroit Tigers trade Hank Aguirre to the Los Angeles Dodgers for a player to be named later.

Henry John Aguirre was born on January 31, 1931 in Azusa, California. Though he wanted to play, Aguirre did not make his high school feet because, in his words, he had “goofy feet”. Aguirre ignored that and went on to have a decent 16-year career in the majors.

In his first season, Aguirre struck out Ted Williams the first time he faced him, and after the game, he asked Williams to sign the ball. Williams reluctantly did so, but he wanted revenge. The next time the two faced off, Williams crushed the first pitch over the fence, and while running the bases, Williams shouted, “Go get that ball, and I’ll sign it, too.” Aguirre would only pitch sparingly for the Cleveland Indians over his first three seasons, and he would be traded to the Tigers, for whom he didn’t throw much during his first four seasons. In 1962, Aguirre made his only All-Star team and went 16-8 with a 2.27 ERA. He must have had some incredible luck because he came right back to Earth the next season, though he still pitched fairly well. He was only mediocre over the next few seasons and returned to the bullpen in 1966.

In 1968, he was traded to the Dodgers. It was a pretty incredible season for Aguirre. He only pitched in 39.1 innings, but what a 39.1 innings! He had a sparkling 0.69 ERA, which was good for an astronomical 400 ERA+. Oddly, he was released the following off-season, but he caught on with the Cubs. In 45 IP the next season, Aguirre had a 2.60 ERA, but he fell off the following year, pitching only 14 IP with a 4.50 ERA.

What’s really interesting about Aguirre is just how staggeringly bad a hitter he was. He had a career line of .085/.117/.108 in 388 career at-bats. For those 388 at-bats, he struck out an amazing 236 times. He did have 7 2B and even a triple to his name, however. All in all, his OPS+ was a robust -38.


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