Pitcher Chuck Hartenstein seems like an inspiration to all those “before” guys like me, the guys in the Charles Atlas comic book advertisements who got sand kicked on them. However, Hartenstein got two kinds of “sand” kicked on him in his pursuit to be a major leaguer.
First, he shared his christening as a Cub:
“Billy Williams with Cubs gave me the nickname ‘Twiggy’ in 1967. I weighed 145 to 150 lbs. I loved it. Everyone referred to me as ‘Twiggy.'”
Come to think of it, he does look a bit like a smiling thumb on his 1968 Topps card! I’ve seen a couple of press “head and shoulders” shots of Hartenstein. It looks as if his tiny self was pasted atop a larger uniform. “Twiggy” never towered over opposing hitters. Instead, emotional muscle kept this pitcher pitching.
The other “sand” Hartenstein faced came after his 1970 struggles with Pittsburgh. He explained…
“I had a bad career in 1970. I was banished to AAA for those years! Two with Tucson (Chicago White Sox), two with Phoenix (Giants) and two with Hawaii and Roy Hartsfield. We won two PCL championships at Hawaii in 1975 and ’76. He took me with him to Toronto!
It was quite a thrill to get back. After my playing days, he wanted me to be their minor league pitching coordinator! I did that at the end of the season in 1977 and emerged as a Major League pitching coach with Cleveland in 1979.”
Tomorrow: Hartenstein rates his successes as a pitching coach.