Glancing Back, and Remembering Larry Hisle
Larry Hisle was the kind of hitter who could lift a team onto his back and carry it through contention. In his prime, he averaged 25 home runs and 110 runs batted in per season.
And while his most productive seasons came in the late 1970s, Larry Hisle major league career commenced a decade earlier. It just took time for his skills to catch up to his talent.
Hisle was drafted by the Philadelphia Phillies in 1965 and made his major league debut in 1968, batting .364 in seven games. He replaced Tony Gonzalez as the team’s regular center fielder in 1969, batting .266 with 20 home runs and 56 RBIs.
After such a promising start, Hisle saw his hitting drop off dramatically. He batted .205 in 1970 and .197 in 1971. He was traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers, St. Louis Cardinals and Minnesota Twins within the space of 13 months, all of which Hisle spent in the minors.
His return to the major leagues came in Minnesota, and that was where Hisle blossomed into a legitimate hitting star. He batted .272 for the Twins in 1973 and .286 in 1974. He hit 14 home runs with 96 RBIs in 1976, and then had monster years the next two seasons. He batted .302 in 1977 with 28 home runs and an American League best 119 RBIs. His timing was perfect, as he became a free agent at the season’s end and signed with the Milwaukee Brewers.
In 1978, playing for the Brewers, he hit .290 with 34 home runs and 115 RBIs. Injuries would limit his playing time and productivity for the rest of his career. In the next four seasons, he wouldn’t hit more than six home runs in a season.
Hisle retired after the 1982 season with a career batting average of .273. In 14 major league seasons, Hisle had 1,146 hits and 166 home runs. He was an All-Star in 1977 and 1978.