Jack Hiatt returned to the Angels organization in 1982 as the manager of their Double-A affiliate in Holyoke, Massachusetts.
In the last couple years, I’ve been working on a project to document the history of the Angels minor leagues, its origins in particular. I’ve interviewed Dan Ardell, a USC graduate who played briefly in the system before joining the Angels at the end of 1961; Paul Mosley, who played with the 1961 Angels’ Class D affiilate in Statesville, North Carolina; and Roland Hemond, the Angels’ first farm and scouting director.
Last night I interviewed Jack Hiatt, who just retired after 16 years as the San Francisco Giants’ Director of Player Development. Hiatt began his professional career at age 18 with the newly born Los Angeles Angels. He signed on March 4, 1961, just as the Angels’ first spring training began in Palm Springs.
Along with three other Southern Californians, Hiatt flew to Statesville to begin his career. As Paul Mosley and Roland Hemond told us, Statesville’s park was in a deplorable condition. It was one of four pro ball parks still with an all-dirt infield (like a softball diamond). And because it was in the Deep South, their teammate **** Simpson suffered from blatant discrimination.
Jack’s interview runs a bit over an hour, but it’s worth listening to every minute. Not only is it a recounting of the history of the Angels’ early years, but it’s also an insight into minor league baseball nearly a half-century ago. I learned a lot more about those years, including Jack’s description of his 1964 season in Triple-A when his manager was future Hall of Famer Bob Lemon, and his hitting coach was future Angels coach Jimmie Reese.
Click Here to listen to Jack’s interview. You need Windows Media Player to listen.
If you’re suffering from an overdose of Mitchell Report, this is the antidote.
During the interview, I refer to a web site with photos of Mackenzie Stadium, where Hiatt managed in 1982. Click Here to visit that web site.
We have generic plans to reunite these players sometime next year, but we’ll see.