Billy Joe Hardwick
- Bats Left, Throws Left
- Height 5' 10", Weight 170 lb.
Bubba Hardwick pitched professionally for 11 years, peaking in AA.
Hardwick was taken by the Cincinnati Reds in the 16th round of the 1991 amateur draft and by the Milwaukee Brewers in the 23rd round of the 1992 amateur draft, one pick before Bobby Estalella and two before Ryan Franklin. Bubba split 1992 between the Helena Brewers (1 H, 0 R in 8 IP, 4 Sv), AZL Brewers (6 R, 2 ER in 7 1/3 IP) and Beloit Brewers (3-2, 1.34 in 17 G, 26 H in 47 IP). He went 6-2 with 14 saves and a 2.90 ERA in 61 games for the 1993 Stockton Ports. He led the California League in games pitched (9 ahead of #2 Mike Kotarski and tied Rob Pierce for 4th in saves. He led Brewers farmhands in games pitched and was third in saves.
In 1994, Bubba pitched for Stockton (1-5, 8 Sv, 5.91) and the El Paso Diablos (2 Sv, 6 R in 11 2/3 IP). He missed 1995 due to injury. In '96, he was 0-1 with 5 runs in 5 innings for Helena. He was 8-6 with a 4.66 ERA for Stockton in 1997. He split 1998 between Stockton (2-1, 4 Sv, 1.61 in 22 G) and El Paso (3-3, Sv, 4.93 in 32 G). He spent the rest of his summers in the independent leagues. In 1999, he was with the Lehigh Valley Black Diamonds (3-8, 4.53) and Atlantic City Surf (0-4, Sv, 3.12). He led the Atlantic League in losses.
In 2000, he was sharper for Atlantic City (12-10, Sv, 3.94). He tied Ed Riley for third in the Atlantic League in wins (behind John Roper and Alan Sontag), tied for 6th in losses, was 7th in ERA (between Daron Kirkreit and Andy Shibilo), was second in innings (196 2/3, behind Sontag), led in hits allowed (219) and was 4th in strikeouts (137, between Tim Cain and Shibilo). He was named the loop's All-Star left-handed pitcher (Sontag was picked as the righty). With the Santurce Crabbers that winter, he had a 4-1, 2.26 record and led the Puerto Rico Baseball League with 50 strikeouts. He was 4th in ERA.
His whereabouts for 2001 are unclear. In 2002, he was back with the Surf (0-2, 2.70 in 7 G). He was 5-7 with a save and a 4.98 ERA for the 2003 Nashua Pride. He was 1-5 with a 6.06 ERA for the 2004 Pride to end his career. Overall, he was 44-56 with 36 saves and a 4.26 ERA in 362 games as a pro (95 starts). In 940 2/3 IP, he allowed 1,066 hits and 343 walks while fanning 670.
Sources include 1993-2002 Baseball Almanacs