Print and Go Back ESPN.com: Page 2 [Print without images]

Tuesday, October 9, 2001

Voice of '86: Billy Hatcher


Page 2 staff

Billy Hatcher was the Astros center fielder and leadoff hitter in 1986. He was acquired from the Cubs in offseason. In the 1986 NLCS, Hatcher went 7-for-24 with two RBI, four runs and three stolen bases. During the regular season, he hit .258 and stole 38 bases. He eventually won a World Series with the Reds in 1990.

Billy Hatcher
Billy Hatcher played with the Astros from 1986 to 1989.
It was just unreal in both places -- Shea and the 'Dome. Usually, the fans wait for the game to start and then get a little wild. But it was getting wild in batting practice. You were so pumped, you were ready to start the game during batting practice. And inside the 'Dome, it was unbelievable. You had to keep calling and calling on fly balls. You couldn't hear anything.

Every game was tough againt the Mets. After each and every game, you were totally exhausted. You didn't want to think about baseball. Even the World Series didn't compare. When you looked at yourself in the mirror, you knew you gave everything. You were proud of the way you competed, you were proud of your teammates. That '86 team never quit. It was one of the best teams I ever played on.

One of the most electrifying moments of the series came when Hatcher hit a home run off Jesse Orosco in the bottom of the 14th inning in Game 6 to tie the score after the Mets had taken a 4-3 lead in the top of the inning. The home run, on a 3-2 pitch, was just fair, hitting the screen extending from the left-field foul pole.

Billy Hatcher
Hatcher today
I was due up second. I was going to be bunting if Billy Doran got on first base, but he struck out. (Astros manager) Hal Lanier told me to be ready for a fastball from Orosco. I went to get some pine tar, and heard a little girl -- she couldn't have been more than 7 or 8 years old -- say to Billy, "That's all right, Billy, Billy's going to hit a home run." As I was running around the bases, I thought of that little girl. It scared me, because she had said it was going to happen. It was freaky, weird.

Hatcher is currently a bench coach for the Devil Rays.