Cleveland Indians Teen Pitcher Mike Hedlund Recalls 1965 Debut

Yea for the website
Baseball Birthdays
for preserving some
seldom-seen shots
of rookie Mike!

You know what life is like for the typical 18-year-old boy.

Driving a car. Graduating. Debuting on national television in Fenway Park.

Well, Mike Hedlund was never typical.

I wrote to ask about being a member of the Cleveland Indians right out of high school. Here’s his amazing answer:

“Being the youngest at age 18 was quite an experience! Max Alvis and Gary Bell are both from Texas and probably made me feel more welcome than the others. I guess it was the ‘Texas’ connection. Gary gave me my nickname, ‘Booger Red.’ Booger Red was a famous rodeo rider from Texas and had red hair.

Some pitchers like Don McMahon and Stan Williams were more of the senior type to me with lots of big league experience.

I didn’t play much that year (being a ‘protected player’ from waivers) but will always remember my first game in Boston, Saturday Game of the Week and my first batter I faced…Carl Yastrzemski. Ground out to first and I cover for the putout!”

Thanks to the stars at www.retrosheet.org, here’s the box score from young Mike’s premiere!

Max Alvis Saw Few Dividends In Brewers Trade

My Alvis autograph
on his letter is a
LETTER PERFECT
match to this card!

Max Alvis got in on the ground floor with Milwaukee. The new Brewers needed tested talent fast. How did he see the transaction?

“My trade to the Brewers was a surprise, but it probably should not have been. I had knee surgery in 1969 and it was untested, plus the Indians had gotten (Graig) Nettles. It should have been an opportunity for me, but I got off to a slow start and did not contribute much.”

I don’t think Alvis wants any sympathy, however. He concluded:

“I was a hard worker and I was always trying to improve, especially as a fielder. I enjoyed every minute that I was a major league baseball player and I have no regrets.”

I just found a memorable essay of a Cleveland fan who wanted to look like Max Alvis as a boy. Be sure to check out the prize package the Plain Dealer may offer this essayist: a Bob Feller autographed baseball and more!

Tomorrow: Rubber-armed reliever Ken Frailing remembers.

Run, Jim Kaat! Max Alvis Grabbed A Bat!!!

As a kid, I thought the
Topps “Giants” set only
had the tallest players.
Alvis looks like he’s
ready to swallow
a whole baseball!

Pssst…don’t tell Cooperstown.

Voters have toyed with the idea of Jim Kaat gaining Hall of Fame membership. He’s worthy on many counts. However, he might want to leave his encounters with Max Alvis off the application.

Thanks to http://www.retrosheet.org/, I relived some of those 1960s match-ups. Of those 31 hits against the lefty, Alvis pounded half those for extra bases. I’m guessing that most of those nine walks were no accident, either.

The most remarkable part of chasing Mister Kaat? It was news to Alvis. He wrote:

“Jim Kaat was one of the greatest pitchers that I ever played against. Not only could he pitch, but he could hit and was the best fielding pitching I ever saw. It is a surprise to learn that I was that successful against him.

I must have been real lucky.”

Alvis is one of the decade’s top “what if” hitters. How many extra homers would he own hitting in a cozy ballpark, instead of Cleveland’s canyon-like Municipal Stadium?

“Cleveland Municipal Stadium was a big stadium. Probably because it was home to the Cleveland Browns, also. The park was not real Home Run friendly, but the great pitchers of the Indians probably appreciated that fact. We always had good center fielders who could roam that big space and protect the pitchers.”

Don’t miss “Max-imum Overdrive,” a fine tribute to the slugger written by Todd Newville.

Tomorrow: Alvis reflects on his Cleveland departure and overall career.

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