This is the final baseball card for Bill Hepler (#144). His only other card came in 1966, when he appeared on a 7th-series Mets Rookies card.
Until today, I never gave a 2nd thought to Hepler. Sure, I had seen his short career listed on the back of this card, and I knew he didn't have a card after this one, but here's what I learned today: Bill was signed by the Washington Senators in 1965, and spent one season at class-A Geneva, NY where he compiled a 13-10 record in 28 starts.
Based on only one class-A season, two things happened:
1) The Mets selected him in the Rule 5 draft
2) Topps gave him a slot on a 1966 Mets Rookies card
Were the Mets (and Topps) so smart to give him such attention? If he was a phenom, why did the Senators leave him unprotected?
Bill jumped all the way to the majors in 1966 (well he'd have to, being a Rule 5 draft pick), and appeared in 37 games (3 starts) for a total of 69 innings. He also walked twice as many batters as he struck out. This may well explain his one-year major-league career.
After 1966, he spent the next 3 years pitching for A and AA teams in the Mets' system, before wrapping up his career in 1970 with 5 games for the Senators' single-A team in the Carolina League.
Maybe a veteran Mets' fan can shed some light on the fast rise and faster fall of Bill Hepler's career.
RIP - Jesus Alou
3 hours ago