Sunday, December 10, 2017

Hank Aguirre (#263)

As I work my way through the top 30 players not yet blogged (on this blog’s sidebar), it seems that Hank Aguirre is the dean of that group, having made his big-league debut in 1955.

Aguirre is one of the few players whose name my brother and I mispronounced when we started collecting baseball cards in 1967. To us, this guy was surely named Hank AAY-gwire.
(Others were the Cardinals’ Julian JAY-vee-er (pronouncing both J’s), the Tigers’ Al ka-LINE, the Braves' Orlando mar-tin-EZZ, and Angels’ 2nd baseman Bobby NEWP.)

Hank began playing minor-league ball in 1952, and the following year was acquired by the Cleveland Indians. After 3 seasons on their farm, Aguirre made his Indians’ debut in September 1955.

He split both the ’56 and ’57 seasons between Cleveland and their AAA team, then was traded to the Tigers (with catcher Jim Hegan) for pitcher Hal Woodeshick and C/OF Jay Porter.

Except for playing most of 1959 in triple-A, Hank spent the next decade (1958-67) with the Tigers. He led the Tigers with 10 saves in 1960, and although he had been mostly a reliever, for most of 1962-66 Aguirre was in Detroit’s starting rotation.

Hank’s career year was 1962 when he notched 16 wins, led the AL with a 2.21 ERA, and made his only All-Star team. With the Tigers’ acquisition of Earl Wilson in mid-1966, Aguirre was moved back to the bullpen.

A few days before the start of the 1968 season Aguirre was traded to the Dodgers. He compiled a 1-2 record in 39 innings that season, and was released in December.

He played his final 2 seasons with the Cubs. Appearing in 45 games in 1969, his playing time dropped off significantly the following season. He only pitched 14 innings over 17 games (the last on June 24th) before he was released in early-July 1970.

After retirement, he coached for the Cubs from 1972-74.

Aguirre passed away in 1994 at age 63.

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