Joe Hietpas

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Joseph Carl Hietpas

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Biographical Information[edit]

Joe Hietpas played only one inning in the Major Leagues during his major league career. He later converted from catching into pitching, and became a knuckleball specialist but never returned to the big leagues.

Selected by the New York Mets in the 16th round of the 2001 amateur draft, Hietpas was a member of the 2003 St. Lucie Mets that won the Florida State League championship. He only hit .159 in 63 games that year, however. That team was loaded with future major leaguers, though, including David Wright, Angel Pagan and Scott Kazmir. Joe also made the major leagues, but his career was reminiscent of Moonlight Graham's. His only action came on October 3, 2004, which turned out to be the last game in the history of the Montreal Expos, who became the Washington Nationals the next year. He entered the game in the 9th inning at Shea Stadium with the Mets leading, 8-1. Bartolome Fortunato was on the mound, and the first two Expos batters reached on an error and a walk, then Fortunato got a pair of strikeouts and a ground ball. The shadows were quite bad on that late fall afternoon, and umpire Angel Hernandez told him "If you can't see the ball, no one can, including me. Good luck.".

Hietpas had hit .242 in 98 games between St. Lucie and the AA Binghamton Mets in 2004, then fell to .216 in 65 games for Binghamton in 2005, and .194 in 26 games for the AAA Norfolk Tides. With the same two teams in 2006, he hit a mere .169 in 84 games. It was clear that he would never hit enough to earn his ticket back to the majors, so he began toying with the idea of pitching that season. His first professional pitching appearance came with Norfolk that year, one scoreless inning, but in 2007 he was back at St. Lucie as a full-time pitcher. His first year was promising, as he went 4-3, 2.47 in 27 relief appearances, with 22 strikeouts and 9 walks in 43 2/3 innings. He moved up to Binghamton in 2008, but things went sour. His ERA was a terrible 6.34 in 43 games, going 3-5. He retired after that season and returned to school, attending the Washington University in Saint Louis School of Law. After graduation, he accepted a job with SNR Denton, an international commercial law firm.

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