Although I'm heading, at the moment, toward the northeast, my next major goal is Oklahoma City, birthday of such baseball notables as Johnny Bench, Don Carman and Joe Carter. It's a long haul to Oklahoma City by bike so I need some rest stops along the way. The whole point of this is to highlight baseball players who were born along the route. I've had to plan a circuitous route in order to find towns where players that I've at least heard of were born.So today's detour brings me to Greenville, Texas. Greenville, population about 24,000 people, is the county seat of Hunt County and is located about 50 miles from Dallas. A couple of baseball players were born there but the only one of note is Burt Hooton. Audie Murphy was also born there. If you don't know who Audie Murphy was go look him up.
I remember Hooton as a pitcher with the Dodgers. I don't own a single card of his. He retired in 1985, which was the first year I began collecting cards. I do, however, have this nifty Capewood's Collection card featuring a photo I took at spring training in 2006. Hooten was the Astros pitching coach that year.
While I remember him I didn't know a lot about him. He was the second player drafted in 1971, by the Cubs. He was signed on June 8, 1971 and made his first start in the majors on June 17, 1971, just 9 days after he was signed! Has another player ever gotten to the majors faster than that? I know, for example, that Jim Abbott went right into the majors without pitching in the minors first but he was signed on 8/3/88 and didn't make his debut until 4/8/89. Hooton was 2-0 with the Cubs in 1971 and then was 7-4 in the minors. He would never pitch in the minors again.
Hooton played for the Cubs until 1975 when he was traded to the Dodgers for Eddie Solomon and Geoff Zahn. His glory years were with the Dodgers from 1975 to 1981 when he had a combined record of 96-63. The Dodgers got to the World Series 3 times during that span, against the Yankees each time. They finally won the World Series in 1981. Hooton was 11-6 with an ERA of 2.28 in 1981 and was also an All-Star and was the NLCS MVP.
Hooton finished his career for the Rangers in 1985. He retired with a career record of 151-136 and a career ERA of 43.38.