William Clyde Hitchcock (born July 31, 1916 in Bullock County; died April 9, 2006 in Opelika) was an infielder, coach, manager and scout in Major League Baseball. He also served as president of the class AA Southern League from 1971-80.
Hitchcock played both football, baseball and golf collegiately for Auburn University. As an All-Conference football tailback, he led Auburn to its first bowl game (a 7-7 tie against Villanova on January 1, 1937). Later in life, he established the Billy Hitchcock Golf Tournament at his alma mater. In recognition of his contribution to the school, Auburn renamed its renovated baseball stadium "Hitchcock Field" for Hitchcock and his brother Jim in 2003. Also in that year, Baseball America named it the best college baseball facility in the country.
Hitchcock played all four infield positions during a nine-year American League active career. He broke in with the 1942 Detroit Tigers, spent three years in the Army Air Force in the Pacific during World War II, and resumed his major league career from 1946-53. A right-handed batter and thrower, he batted .243 with five home runs in 703 games with the Tigers, Washington Senators, Boston Red Sox, St. Louis Browns and Philadelphia Athletics.
After AAA managing assignments in 1954 and 1961, sandwiched around a six-year (1955-60) term as a Detroit coach, Hitchcock was manager of the 1962-63 Baltimore Orioles, but the team barely broke the .500 mark (163-161); he was replaced by Hank Bauer, and moved into Baltimore's minor league department as field coordinator.
Hitchcock began the 1966 season as a coach for the Atlanta Braves under Bobby Bragan, but when the Braves won only 52 of their first 111 games, Hitchcock took over. The Braves won 33 of their last 51 games to finish fifth in the National League in their maiden season in Georgia, and Hitchcock was invited back for 1967, but he was fired with the team in the seventh place with three games remaining on the schedule. His career managing record was 274 wins, 261 losses (.514). Hitchcock then scouted for the Montreal Expos from 1968-71.
With Hitchcock as league President, the Southern League added teams, expanded the playoffs and introduced split-season play. The league's attendance figures rose dramatically during his tenure, from 333,500 in 1971 to over 1.7 million in 1980. The league's championship trophy is named after him.
- Billy Hitchcock. (January 4, 2008). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 20:13, January 29, 2008.