#52 Chuck Hinton
When you’re trying to collect a set of 1960s baseball cards on the cheap, Washington Senators cards just have a way of finding you. If I didn’t know better, I’d think the Senators had a 60-man roster. Some old teams have a certain historical cachet. The Senators have the opposite of that.
How bad was Washington? Chuck Hinton (featured here) was the last Senator to hit .300 in a season. That was in 1962, a full NINE years before they left for Texas.
This card is what you would call a “beater.” Not a whole lot of redeeming qualities, but it is intact. The trivia question asks who led the NL in doubles in 1963. That would be Dick Groat, who smacked 43 for the Cardinals.
Chuck Hinton is not to be confused with the football player of the same era, who played mostly with the Steelers.
Hinton went to Shaw University (a historically black university) in Raleigh. After graduating, he signed with the Orioles, but spent two years in the military. In 1960, the rebooted Senators (the first incarnation had become the Twins) selected him in the expansion draft.
At age 27, Hinton debuted with Washington. He wasn’t great as a rookie, but had a breakout season in 1962, when he .310/.361/.472 with 17 homers, 25 doubles, 75 RBI and 28 stolen bases. He didn’t fare quite as well in ’63, but set a career high in triples with 12 and hit 15 homers.
In 1964, Hinton came out of the gate blazing and ended up in the All-Star Game. He was so hot that his batting average reached .362 on May 29. He was still hitting .305 at the break, but slumped throughout the second half of the season and finished at .274.
In the offseason, he was traded to Cleveland for Woodie Held. In his first year with the Indians, Hinton hit a career-best 18 home runs. He regressed in 1966 and ’67 and was traded to the Angels. He had a dismal season in Anaheim (.195/.259/.333 in 296 PA) and they shipped him right back to the Indians.
He was slightly below average in 1969 and 1971, but hit .318 in part-time duty with the Indians in 1970.
For his career, Hinton posted a .264 batting average with 113 home runs and an OPS+ of 108. His performance in Washington made him one of the better players in Senators history (the second incarnation).
In Hinton’s autobiography, he speaks of owning an insurance agency in D.C. during his playing days. After retiring, Hinton became a baseball coach at Howard University for 28 years and helped launch the Major League Baseball Players Alumni Association. He played a role in bringing baseball back to D.C. in 2005.
Hinton is now 76 years old.