Cleveland’s Jack Heidemann, Teen Shortstop

Posted August 12th, 2010 by Tom Owens and filed in Eddie Leon, Jack Heidemann

While many teens are working on their first car (or first beer), Jack Heidemann set his sights higher. The 19-year-old went from first-round draft pick in 1967 to major leaguer at age 19. By age 20, he owned Cleveland’s starting shortstop position.

I was intrigued with his youth. Legal drinking ages. Older teammates who might see him more as a little brother than a peer. Would teammates include him in post-game socializing? Heidemann responded:

“My roomie was Eddie Leon, All-American shortstop out of Arizona. Cleveland put him at second base for me to become their shortstop.

Being the youngest on the team, I just hung out…sometimes I got to go…sometimes I was by myself.”

Part of Heidemann’s stellar 1970 season included a 5-for-5 game. What did he recall?

“5-5 for five-five — well, I went 0-4 2nd game of doubleheader. Yuh!!!”

Looking at his career stats, I pointed out that his nine career homers were nine more than I hit in Little League. Did he savor details on one or two memorable blasts?

“Blue Moon Odom…Knuckleballer Jack Samford. I probably would have to look up to see when/where I hit ’em.”

Thanks to the baseball braintrust at http://www.retrosheet.org/, I did. In order, the nine pitchers Heidemann blasted homers against included:

John Cumberland; Chuck Dobson; Dick Bosman; John “Blue Moon” Odom; Eddie Fisher, Jim Hannan, Ken Frailing, Rudy May; Bill Lee

By the way, Heidemann’s autograph still looks like the facsimile on his Topps cards!

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