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Dodgers rewind: Hank Aguirre

A memorable season & a memorable Topps card

Hank Aguirre with Glove and Ball
Hank Aguirre, who pitched for the Dodgers in 1968, pitched for the Detroit Tigers for 10 seasons.

Today’s Leading Off with True Blue LA podcast is a Dodgers rewind of left-handed reliever Hank Aguirre, who spent one year with Los Angeles.

Born in Azusa, Aguirre went to high school in Alhambra but didn’t play baseball until college because, as he described, he had “goofy feet.”

Aguirre debuted in the majors in 1955 with Cleveland, and struck out Ted Williams in his very first game, which led to a possibly apocryphal but still wonderful story about those two.

After thirteen years in the American League, including a decade with the Tigers, Aguirre was traded to the Dodgers a week before opening day in 1968, the “year of the pitcher” in MLB.

Aguirre was effective that year in limited duty, pitching only 39 innings, but was especially tough on same-handed batters, allowing no extra-base hits to a left-hander all year. Aguirre finished with a 0.69 ERA, and remains the only Dodgers pitcher to post a sub-1.00 ERA in a season of at least 30 innings.

Aguirre’s 1969 Topps baseball card came after his season in Los Angeles, but does not have a picture of him on the Dodgers. Instead, on the front of the card is an old Tigers picture of Aguirre, with the top of the olde English D on the jersey still visible on the card, and the cap airbrushed in classic Topps fashion.

The back of Hank Aguirre’s 1969 Topps baseball card
The back of Hank Aguirre’s 1969 Topps baseball card
Hank Aguirre’s 1969 Topps baseball card
Hank Aguirre’s 1969 Topps baseball card

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Episode link (time: 25:47)