William Lewis Hepler
- Bats Left, Throws Left
- Height 6' 0", Weight 160 lb.
Bill Hepler pitched seven years in professional baseball, one of them in the majors. His career was derailed by injury. He was 36-33 in the minors and 3-3 in the majors.
Hepler was signed by the Washington Senators in 1964 after going 11-0 in American Legion baseball and averaging 19 strikeouts a game. After playing winter baseball in the Florida Instructional League, he debuted in 1965 with the Geneva Senators of the New York-Penn League. He pitched 208 innings that year and went 13-10 with a 3.85 ERA in 28 starts and 14 complete games, making the league's All-Star team. He tied for the league lead in wins and had 218 strikeouts. He won the honor of being voted by the managers and sports writers the Stedler Award given to the player most likely to play in the major leagues.
In the winter meetings of 1965 he was drafted by the New York Mets. At the age of 20, Hepler spent the 1966 season in the majors with the Mets. He finished with a 3-3 record and had a 3.52 ERA in 37 games. He pitched 69 innings and had 25 strikeouts.
In 1967, he started out with the Williamsport Mets in the Eastern League compiling a 3-4 record in 56 innings. He was sent to the Florida State League and was 1-1 in 13 innings with a 2.08 ERA and had 16 strikeouts. He was sent to the Carolina League's Durham Bulls, pitched the rest of the season with the Bulls and had a 4-4 record in 53 innings with 48 strikeouts. Hepler won the two Carolina League championship games that gave Durham the 1967 Carolina League title, not to be won again until 2002, when the Bulls had become members of the International League.
In 1968, with the Memphis Blues in the Texas League, Hepler was 9-6 with a 3.12 ERA with perhaps his best year in the minor leagues. He pitched 156 innings giving up 145 hits while striking out 107. He was third in the league with an ERA of 3.12. During the winter meetings he was drafted by the St. Louis Cardinals and in 1969 went to spring training with the AAA Tulsa Oilers. During the spring, Hepler hurt his arm and was returned to the Mets organization and played again for the Memphis Blues, going 3-5.
In 1970 he was traded from the Mets to the Kansas City Royals and went to spring training but continued to have arm trouble and retired from baseball.