Mets Players the Kids Should Know: The Gentleman, Jim Hickman
By Tim Boyle
Jim Hickman’s career with the New York Mets had its positive moments and he’s certainly a name al of the kids should know.
An original member of the New York Mets in 1962, Jim Hickman was one of the better bats the team had in the lineup during the barren seasons in the early and mid-1960s. From his debut with the club in their inaugural season through 1966, Hickman was a .241/.306/.392 hitter that found himself playing all over the field for the Metropolitans.
Nicknamed “Gentleman Jim,” Hickman reached double-digit home runs in each of his first four seasons with the Mets. It’s not exactly a notable feat. Given the era and how weak the offense was for many of those years, it’s a statistic that stands out to me.
Like many Mets from this era, Hickman is not talked about much at all. Except for those fans who actually saw Hickman play, he’s not really someone the younger fans read much about.
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One thing about Hickman some fans may know about him is his place in the team’s history of cycles. The Mets have been fortunate to have quite a few men pick up a single, double, triple, and home run in a single game.
Hickman was the first to do so.
It all took place on August 7, 1963, in a game versus the St. Louis Cardinals. Hickman led off with a single and then proceeded to knock a double, triple, and home run in each of his next three plate appearances. In baseball, doing it in order is referred to as a natural cycle. He’s still the only Mets player to have a cycle of this variety.
From year to year, Hickman seemed to fill in wherever the Mets needed him. In 1962, he saw all of his action in the outfield. In 1963, he suddenly started to see a lot more time at third base. And by the time he was in his final season with the club, Gentleman Jim was playing some first base, too.
Hickman’s time with the Mets came to an end in 1966 when he was traded with Ron Hunt to the Los Angeles Dodgers for Tommy Davis and Derrell Griffith. In April of 1968, he was traded alongside Phil Regan (yes, the pitching coach extraordinaire from the 2019 season) from the Dodgers to the Chicago Cubs.
It was in 1970 as a member of the Cubs when Hickman had a career year. For the first time, he was an All-Star and MVP candidate—finishing eighth in the voting. In unprecedented fashion, Hickman hit 32 home runs and finished the year with 115 RBI while hitting .315.
Hickman never had a year quite like that any other time in the major leagues. As one of the original Amazins, it surely nice for the fans to see.
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Never the best player on the team or the crown jewel of any lineup Casey Stengel put together, Hickman is still a Mets player all of the kids should know about.