Hickey’s life story should be in lights
Updated: August 13, 2012 7:00AM
Kevin Hickey and I had a long-standing joke about who would play his life story in the movies, a talent scout having pledged to him years ago that he would write, direct and produce it for the big screen as soon as he had the time.
Unfortunately, that time never came. Hickey, who passed up high-school hardball to concentrate on 16-inch softball and semi-pro ball in summers, pitched six years in the major leagues with the White Sox and Baltimore Orioles.
He died May 16 at age 56, having been in a diabetic coma for six weeks.
Hickey and I had this silly conversation last season when I found him at his White Sox locker after he had thrown batting practice:
Me: “Hick-Man, I found the guy to play you in your movie.”
Me: “John Wayne. He said he’d love to do it.”
Kevin: “He’s too late. I’ve already got a guy.”
Hickey was one of only 250 candidates to be signed out of a 1978 White Sox tryout camp. He had 17 saves and a 3.91 ERA in six seasons with the two teams. Left-handed hitting Hall of Famers George Brett and Wade Boggs combined for just one hit in 26 tries against him.
I received a heartwarming letter last week from Kevin’s oldest daughter Samantha, thanking me for sending get-well notes to her dad. He never had a chance to read them. She enclosed a copy of his baseball card.
“I am sorry it has taken me so long to respond to you,” Samantha wrote. “When I went to the clubhouse to pick up his belongings a few weeks ago, I came across your letters and cards that had been placed in a pile of mail in one of his bags.
“I wish I had some signed cards to send you. If I come across anything with just his signature I would be happy to send you one. The only ones I have are made out to me and my son. I have enclosed one of his prayer cards for your collection.”
The prayer card is a keepsake treasure with this meaningful poem: “A beautiful life came to an end. He died as he lived everyone’s friend.”
Then: “I did it my way.”— K.J.H.
Me, myself and I
Jim Slonoff, former publisher of The Doings, forwarded a 1953 team photo of the 15-2 Hinsdale Little League champion Gophers managed by me.
Well, not exactly. The Joe Goddard in the picture is at least 10 years older, more handsome and undoubtedly smarter. I hope he’s still alive.
I did meet a Joe Goddard once. Former Cubs third baseman Carmen Fanzone introduced me to my namesake at a 1975 spring-training game in Arizona when they were with the Padres and I was covering the Cubs for The Sun-Times.
“This Joe Goddard is nothing like this Joe Goddard,” Fanzone said.
I don’t know what he meant and probably don’t want to know.
The Padres’ Joe Goddard only hit .200 in 12 major league games, but at least he’s on a bubblegum card.
The only highlight in my humble high-school career at Palatine High was a bloop, rainy-day single in 1956 that held up for the only hit off Grayslake’s Jay Hook, who went on to win 29 games for the Cincinnati Reds and New York Mets.
I was crushed when a pair of New York Yankees’ scouts who were watching from a maintenance shed didn’t offer me a contract. Maybe their check is still in the mail.