Ex-MLB player, manager Hitchcock dies at 89

Updated: April 10, 2006, 10:46 AM ET
Associated Press

OPELIKA, Ala. -- Billy Hitchcock, a major league infielder during the 1940s and '50s who went on to manage three teams, died at 89.

He died Sunday, according to Auburn, where Hitchcock led the university to its first bowl game and its first Southeastern Conference baseball title.

"A true gentleman," Auburn athletic director Jay Jacobs said. "He was a very compassionate and giving person who meant a great deal to this university."

Hitchcock spent more than 40 years in professional baseball as a player, manager, scout, coach and minor league executive. He was an infielder with five clubs between 1942 and 1953. In 1951, he hit .306 in 77 games for the Philadelphia Athletics. He managed the Detroit Tigers, Baltimore Orioles and Atlanta Braves in the 1960s.

As a football player, Hitchcock was a single-wing back who scored Auburn's only touchdown, on a 40-yard run, in the Bacardi Bowl in Havana on Jan. 1, 1937. The game ended in a 7-7 tie with Villanova.

As captain and shortstop, Hitchcock also led the Tigers to their first conference baseball title in 1937.

In 1997, Auburn renamed Plainsman Park Hitchcock Field in honor of Hitchcock and his late brother, Jimmy, Auburn's first All-American in baseball and football. The men's golf program annually hosts the Billy Hitchcock Invitational, which was held last weekend for the 19th time.

Hitchcock was a lieutenant in the Army reserves, earning the Bronze Star for service in the Pacific and three battle stars during World War II.

He was the president of the Southern League during the 1970s before retiring in 1980.


Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press