RIP to Dave Hill, who pitched in two games for the Kansas City Athletics in 1957. He died on October 16, 2018 from cancer at the age of 80.
Hill attended college at Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill. He was signed by the A’s as a “bonus baby” free agent in 1957. He had a fine athletic career to that point and had thrown 6 no-hitters in high school in Milwaukee. He’d gone 6-2 with the Wildcats as a sophomore, leading the team to a Big 10 Championship.
Being a “bonus baby” meant that the amateur contract that you signed was so large that the team was required to keep you on the big-league roster for at least a season. Hill signed on August 12 for an undisclosed amount, but it was said to be higher than the $30,000 that the A’s paid their previous bonus baby, Clete Boyer, in 1955.
Hill put on an Athletics uniform the very next day, but the team understandably kept him off the field right away. At 19 years old, he was the 7th-youngest player in the AL after all. Less understandable was that when the A’s finally put him in a game, it was against the dominating machine known as the 1957 New York Yankees. It was on August 22, and the Yanks had already abused a few Kansas City pitchers, so Hill was sent in to the game in the top of the 6th inning. He made it through one inning unscathed, but he had to face Mickey Mantle and Yogi Berra in the 7th. With 1 out, Mantle singled and Berra clobbered a 2-run homer. Welcome to The Show, kid. Final score, 11-4 Yankees.
Hill made his last MLB appearance on August 26 in what would be another blowout loss against the Boston Red Sox. In the middle of an inning where four runs already had scored, Hill’s day went something like this: Pete Daley doubled, Willard Nixon walked, Jimmy Piersall homered, Billy Klaus struck out, Ted Williams singled, Frank Malzone homered, pitching change. Final score, 16-0 Red Sox.
Those two appearances resulted in a 27.00 ERA in 2.1 innings of work. But he did get to face several future Hall of Famers. Hill spent 1958-61 in the Athletics minor-league system, accumulating an 18-28 record. After baseball, he served in the U.S. Army, worked in the telecommunications industry and owned and operated an art gallery with his wife of 46 years, Shirley.