Mets History: Eric Hillman is the nearly seven-foot tall pitching giant baseball forgot
By Tim Boyle
Former New York Mets pitcher Eric Hillman remains one of the game’s tallest players of all-time. Unfortunately, his short career has made him a forgotten giant of MLB.
They don’t make baseball players the size of Eric Hillman anymore. At 6’10, he is one of the tallest men to ever play the sport professionally. Wouldn’t you know, he’s also a member of the New York Mets alumni page.
When we think of sports and height, we often go directly to the NBA. After that league, there’s Randy Johnson. Maybe if you’re into sports a little more than the average fan, you’ll remember Jon Rauch.
Hillman, on the other hand, has been forgotten over the years. With just 49 games of big league experience, it’s no surprise why.
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Despite his larger than life size, Hillman’s short stint in MLB isn’t talked about much. This probably has more to do with the fact that he failed to post incredible numbers more than anything else.
Hillman couldn’t have been further from Johnson. Although he also threw with his left arm, he wasn’t the dominant strikeout machine that Johnson was.
In 232 innings, Hillman struck out only 96 batters. This rate of 3.7 per nine is alarmingly low. It’s the exact total he averaged in 1993 when he delivered 145 innings for the Mets in what we can easily consider the peak of his playing career.
The 1993 Mets were major underachievers. There wasn’t much to enjoy about the team, but Hillman’s year was actually a positive note.
That season, Hillman gave the Mets 22 starts and 5 appearances out of the bullpen. He finished just 2-9 but did manage to come away with a more than respectable 3.97 ERA. Something unheard of in today’s game, Hillman even pitched three complete games including a shutout against the Dodgers in Los Angeles.
After the 1994 season where Hillman saw his ERA balloon up to 7.79 in 34.2 innings of work as a major leaguer, he spent a few years playing in Japan. Things worked out for him better there—capturing the league’s All-Star MVP Award in 1996.
Unfortunately for the former Mets pitcher, this was around the twilight of his pitching days. Injuries took their toll and after the 1996 season, Hillman only pitched a total of 11 innings as a professional again. This included six in Japan during the 1997 campaign and five more as a minor leaguer for the Houston Astros in 2000.
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Before Rauch, Hillman shared the title with Johnson as the tallest player in MLB history. And until Rauch joined the Mets in 2012, he held the franchise’s record.