Tuesday, September 19, 2017

RIP Dave Hilton

Former Yakult Swallow and Hanshin Tiger infielder Dave Hilton passed away this past weekend at the age of 67.  Hilton had played for the Padres as well as in the Blue Jays organization before joining the Swallows in 1978 and helping them to their first ever Nippon Series Championship.  His numbers dropped in 1979 and Yakult let him go at the end of the season.  He joined the Hanshin Tigers for 1980 and was the center of controversy when Hanshin fans were upset that manager Don Blasingame was starting Hilton at second base instead of popular rookie Akinobu Okada.  Hilton ended up getting released by the Tigers after only 18 games and he returned to the US, signing a deal with the Pirates to play with their AAA team in Portland, OR.  He retired as a player following the 1982 season.  He managed at the minor league level a couple of times and eventually founded a youth baseball school in Scottsdale, Arizona.

One of the interesting tidbits of trivia about him is that Japanese writer Haruki Murakami has credited seeing Hilton hit a double at Jingu Stadium as the inspiration for him to become a novelist.

Hilton's 1973 Topps rookie card also has Ron Cey and Hall Of Famer Mike Schmidt on it so it's a bit pricey.

Hilton's NPB cards aren't quite as valuable.  He had a number of cards in the Takara, Calbee and Yamakatsu sets from when he was in Japan although most of his cards appear to be from 1979.  TradingCardDB only lists Takara cards for him for 1978 and 1980 although the 1978 Calbee set is poorly checklisted and it wouldn't surprise me to discover that he has a couple 1978 Calbee cards.  The only cards I have for him in this time period are his TCMA card and Yamakatsu card:

1979 TCMA #18

1979 Yamakatsu JY8 #16
He's appeared in two of BBM's OB sets in recent years - the 2009 Yakult 40th Anniversary set and the 2013 Deep Impact (Legendary Foreigners Vol. 2) set:

2009 BBM Yakult 40th Anniversary #42

2013 BBM Deep Impact #05
I used Hilton's Baseball-Reference Bullpen biography as a primary source for this post.

1 comment:

Sean said...

That is too bad. I read that chapter about him and Blasingame in You Gotta Have Wa and always felt sorry for him as the innocent victim in that one.

I hadn't realized he was the third guy on Schimdt's rookie card before, thats an interesting tidbit, as well as that story about Haruki Murakami!