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Erik Visits an American Grave, Part 895

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This is the grave of Chuck Hinton.

Born in 1934 in Rocky Mount, North Carolina, Hinton was a star on the baseball field as a kid. The military briefly derailed the career but as soon as he got out of the Army, Hinton was on the fast path. He attended Shaw University, a historically Black institution in Raleigh. He played baseball, football, and basketball. It was after he graduated that the Army drafted him. in 1956, after the Army let him loose, the Baltimore Orioles signed him after a tryout camp. He did very well in minors, winning battle titles twice. In fact, he valuable enough to the Orioles that they had him fake an injury so that the reborn Washington Senators wouldn’t pick him up in the expansion draft in 1960. Didn’t work. The Senators grabbed him.

The Senators brought Hinton up to the majors in the middle of the 1961 season. For a rookie, he performed pretty solidly, mostly in left field. But it was in 1962 that he really became a solid major leaguer. He hit .310/361/472 with 17 home runs and 28 stolen bases. It was a nice season. He even got a few low-ranking MVP votes, placing him 29th in the running that year. This was nearly his best season. Hinton settled into the realm of solid major league player, if not spectacular. He’d be worth 2 or 3 WAR a year based on the Baseball Reference scale. A bit of power, a bit of speed, generally pretty healthy. He even made the All-Star team in 1964. One issue is that the Army really slowed Hinton down. He was 27 as a rookie and 30 when he was an All-Star. So he didn’t have the usual years as a younger player to figure it out on a major league level. By the time he was in the majors, his physical tools weren’t too far from starting to decline. The Senators traded him to Cleveland after the 64 season and he continued as a pretty solid player for the Indians over the next few years. But in 1968, now 34 years old and playing with the Angels, Hinton really bottomed out, only hitting .198/259/333 and looking like he was completely finished. That wasn’t quite true. He rallied and had a couple more useful years. The Angels dumped him right after that bad season and Hinton went back to Cleveland for three more years. he had a nice comeback year in 1970 when he hit .318/392/477 with 9 homers. But after slipping the next year, Hinton retired at the age of 37. In the end, he ranks as Baseball Reference’s 176th best left fielder of all time, according to its JAWS statistic. Probably about accurate. Hinton was a good player who could have had a longer career if his 20s had been different. Unlikely there was a real path to being a great player no matter when he got to the majors, but he was very strong.

Committed to the HBCU’s that he came out of, Hinton became the head baseball coach at Howard University in 1972 and kept coaching that team for the next 28 years before retiring in 2000. Quite an impressive run there. After retiring, Hinton suffered from Parkinson’s Disease. He died in 2013, at the age of 78.

Chuck Hinton is buried in Quantico National Cemetery, Quantico, Virginia.

If you would like this series to visit other people who got MVP votes in 1962, you can donate to cover to recover the required expenses here. Mickey Mantle, who won that year, is in Dallas. Bobby Richardson finished second that year and he still lives, 59 years later. Harmon Killebrew, who finished third, is in Payette, Idaho. Previous posts in this series are archived here.

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