Curtis O'Neal Hardaway
- Bats Right, Throws Right
- Height 6' 0", Weight 189 lb.
Curtis Hardaway hit 97 home runs in his first three seasons in the minors but only 16 in his two years at AAA. He also drew many walks; Hardaway never got to the majors.
Hardaway debuted in the dying days of the Negro Leagues, as a third baseman for the Indianapolis Clowns. In the 1953 East-West Game, he started at third and hit sixth for the East. He was 0 for 2 with an error in a 5-1 loss; Irwin Castille replaced him at third. Curtis made it to the minors with the 1954 Pampa Oilers, hitting .333 with a .617 slugging, 36 doubles and 33 home runs. He was two homers behind West Texas-New Mexico League leader Frosty Kennedy and ranked third in RBI (122). He led the loop with 132 runs scored.
Curtis had more good numbers with Pampa in '55, batting .323 with a .589 slugging and 43 homers. He was second in the West Texas-New Mexico League in long balls, just one behind pacesetter Lincoln Boyd. He was then drafted in the A phase of the 1955 Rule V Draft by the Binghamton Triplets. In 1956, Hardaway spent most of the year with the Winston-Salem Twins (.306/?/.541, 21 HR) and also appeared with the Binghamton Triplets (4 for 20). He tied for 9th in the Carolina League in circuit clouts, 30 back of leader Leon Wagner but only 8 shy of runner-ups Willie McCovey and Curt Flood.
The Georgia native was back with Binghamton for all of 1957 but his numbers fell to their worst point in his minor league journey to that date (.245/.393/.367, .901 fielding at third). His 40 errors led Eastern League players at the hot corner but he did draw 99 walks, second in the EL behind Moose Johnson. Hardaway made it to AAA in 1958 at age 29. He hit .263/.408/.404 for the Denver Bears, drawing 92 walks. He was third in the American Association in coaxing free passes, behind Pumpsie Green and Wayne Terwilliger. Hardaway was the only player in the AA's top 15 in walks who would never make it to the majors.
Hardaway had one more chance at AAA but he did worse in 1959 with the Houston Buffaloes (.235/.370/.350 in a utility role) and Salt Lake City Bees (2 for 10). He was with the Charlotte Hornets in 1960 (.294/.408/.483, .903 fielding at 3B) and 1961 (4 for 16, 2B).