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  • Mike Hegan Contributed as Player, but Thrived as Announcer


    reillymcshane

    When Mike Hegan’s contract was sold to the expansion Seattle Pilots, little did he realize that it would lead to a relationship with the organization that would last 19 years - including two stints as a player, and then a 12-year run as an announcer.

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    James Michael "Mike" Hegan was born in Cleveland in 1942. His father, Jim Hegan, was a big league catcher for 17 years, primarily with Cleveland, and Mike served as the Indians batboy.  

    Hegan, a left-handed hitter, was signed by the Yankees in 1961. For a first baseman, he didn't show a lot of pop in the minors, but did take a lot of walks. He bounced between the minors and majors from 1964 through 1968 but was blocked by players such as Mickey Mantle and Joe Pepitone . Then, in June of 1968, Hegan was sold to the expansion Seattle Pilots (who weren't scheduled to debut until 1969) for $25,000. He finished out the season with AAA Syracuse, then became the first man signed by the Pilots.  

    Hegan opened as the Pilots first baseman, and was selected as the franchise's first All-Star, though he did not play due to injury. He hit .292 for Seattle, producing an .888 OPS, but he missed 67 games with injuries. 

    In 1970, Hegan came to Milwaukee for the Brewers inaugural campaign, serving as the team's primary first baseman. The next year, he was dealt to Oakland, where he was part of the A's 1972 World Championship team (becoming the first father/son duo to win a World Series). Strictly a platoon player at this point of his career (playing 1B, OF and DH), Hegan went to the Yankees in 1973, and then found himself back in Milwaukee in 1974. He played for the Crew until 1977, before the club released him in July, ending his career.

    But baseball - and Milwaukee - was not done with Mike Hegan. He had become interested in broadcasting years before, working at WTMJ-TV in the offseason. Within 10 days of his release he was filling in as the color commentator for the Brewers television broadcasts. The next season he was tabbed to do Milwaukee's play-by-play, and he stayed in the booth for the next 11 years. In 1989, Hegan joined the Indians broadcast team, doing play-by-play and color commentary until he retired after the 2011 season, a run of 23 years.

    Hegan passed away on Christmas Day in 2013 at the age of 71, the result of heart complications.

     Mike Hegan's career with Milwaukee was not anything special. He spent parts of seven seasons with the franchise, hitting .249 with a .735 OPS. He didn't have much power (42 HRs on 1529 ABs), but did get on base (.355 OBP) due to a nice walk rate. He was mostly a platoon player through his career, but he had a reputation as a good defender and a smart baseball man (qualities no doubt inherited from his father).

    A highlight of his time in was an errorless streak of 178 games at first base, which stood as the American League record for 12 years. He also hit for the cycle in 1976 (driving in six runs that day), the first Brewer to ever do so. 

    But Hegan's legacy rests mostly with his long stint in the TV booth during the late 70s and into the 80s. Many people (myself included) watched many a broadcast, with Hegan behind the microphone, as the Brewers produced some of their best ever ball clubs.

    Please share your memories of former Brewer player and announcer Mike Hegan.

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    I remember listening on the radio when he hit for the cycle vs Mark Fidrych.

    Mike had at least partial ownership of indoor batting cages in Brookfield back in the day. Some of us fastpitch softball guys would practically live there, and at times Mike would actually be working the counter. I recall Frank Howard being seen there sometimes; he coached in Milwaukee in the mid-80s. Also Juan Nieves. It's just funny in this day & age to think of seeing current or former players in such an accessible setting.

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    Joseph Zarr
  • Brewer Fanatic Contributor
  • Posted

    I will never forget the many days and hours spent at 'Grand Slam' over there by the ol' Roundy's food warehouse. I took the long drive through Brookfield. Up North Avenue, past Brookfield East...those were fine memories. When I wasn't trying to hit balls in those batting cages, I was in that wild and crazy trampoline apparatus with the mini basketballs. So much fun as a youngster in those.

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    Joseph Zarr
  • Brewer Fanatic Contributor
  • Posted

    1 hour ago, Jim French Stepstool said:

    I remember listening on the radio when he hit for the cycle vs Mark Fidrych.

    Mike had at least partial ownership of indoor batting cages in Brookfield back in the day. Some of us fastpitch softball guys would practically live there, and at times Mike would actually be working the counter. I recall Frank Howard being seen there sometimes; he coached in Milwaukee in the mid-80s. Also Juan Nieves. It's just funny in this day & age to think of seeing current or former players in such an accessible setting.

    Thanks for sharing. It was a different time, for sure. Sometimes nostalgia paints a cloudy picture of 'better times', but, it's hard not to think we all benefited greatly when things were slower and a wee more analog. I used to love how they had medium and fast pitch for the baseball. The fast pitch, to my young eyes, felt sooooooo fast!

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    I remember Hegan as a guy that was a fundamentally sound player.  A real pro. A slick fielder at first base who really just had the 70 season as a regular player.  He was athletic enough to play outfield which is how he was mainly used in his year in Seattle appearing mostly in rightfield, who used Don Mincher primarily at 1st base.  But he had a career that lasted 13 seasons.  Not bad!

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