Homer Happy: Jim Ray Hart
Jim Ray Hart came up as one of the most promising prospects in the San Francisco Giants’ organization – which is saying a lot for an organization that produced Willie Mays, Orlando Cepeda, Willie McCovey, Felipe Alou, Matty Alou … all on the Giants’ roster when Jim Ray Hart arrived.
From 1965-1967, Jim Ray Hart batted a combined .291 and averaged 28 home runs and 96 RBIs per season.
And while he never quite lived up to the legendary standards of his Hall of Fame teammates, Hart did provide offensive firepower to an already potent lineup, and became a favorite among Bay-area fans.
Hart was signed by the Giants in 1960 and made his first appearance at Candlestick Park in 1963. In 1964 he was awarded the starting job at third base, replacing Jim Davenport, and proceeded to tear up National League pitching by hitting .286 with 31 home runs and 81 RBIs. He finished tied for second in the Rookie of the Year vote with Rico Carty as Dick Allen of the Philadelphia Phillies claimed that season’s top rookie prize.
Hart continued his slugging ways for the Giants over the next three seasons. In 1965 he hit .299 with 23 home runs and 96 RBIs. He hit .285 in 1966 with 33 home runs and 93 RBIs. In 1967 Hart batted .289 with 29 home runs and 99 RBIs.
Then injuries started eating away at Hart’s productivity at the plate. He hit only 23 home runs with 78 RBIs in 1968, but he would never approach those power totals again. Though he would play four more years, Hart’s best season over the rest of his career would come in 1973 with the New York Yankees, when he would hit .254 with 13 home runs and 54 RBIs. He retired 10 games into the 1974 season.
Hart finished his 12-year career with a .278 batting average and 170 home runs. He ranks thirty-eighth among home run hitters during the 1960s.
Hart was a member of the 1966 National League All-Star team.
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