Hilton Head, SC, United States (4E Sports) – Longtime major league baseball broadcaster and former player Mike Hegan died Wednesday morning at his home in Hilton Head, S.C., after a long illness.
He was 71. The news was announced by the Indians on their Twitter account.
Hegan was an original member of the Milwaukee Brewers and later a broadcaster for the team shortly after his playing career ended in 1977. After 12 years as analyst for the Brewers he moved on to call games on TV and radio for the Cleveland Indians.
Beginning in 2007, Hegan worked exclusively on radio, pairing with longtime broadcast partner Tom Hamilton and later with Hamilton and Jim Rosenhaus in a three-man booth. Hegan retired from broadcasting after the 2011 season and was inducted into the Greater Cleveland Sports Hall of Fame that year.
He feels a key to his longevity was learning how to do play-by-play. Hamilton knew Hegan had been ill, but that his death still comes as a shock.
“Mike was as good a broadcaster as anyone who has done the game of baseball,” Hamilton said. “I was lucky to work with him, but the listeners were lucky to hear him.”
Hegan grew up watching his father, Jim Hegan, play for the Indians in the late 1940s and ’50s.
He hit the first home run in the Seattle Pilots-Milwaukee Brewers franchise history in his first at-bat with the team on opening day.
He made the all-star team in 1969 while playing for the Pilots but had to withdraw with a hamstring injury.
Hegan was with the Pilots when they were bought out of bankruptcy in 1970 by Bud Selig and his ownership group and moved to Milwaukee. During the Brewers’ inaugural season, Hegan batted .244 with 11 home runs and 52 RBI in 148 games.
The left-handed-hitting first baseman/outfielder was sold to the Oakland Athletics on June 14, 1971 and in 1973 was dealt to the New York Yankees.
Hegan returned to the Brewers in 1974 and stayed with the team until retirement.
He became the first Brewer to hit for the cycle on Sept. 3, 1976, when he went 4 for 5 with six RBI against Detroit’s Mark Fidyrch at Tiger Stadium.
Hegan won a World Series ring with Oakland in 1972 and also appeared in the ’64 Series with the Yankees.
In 965 career games in the majors, Hegan batted .242 with 53 homers and 229 RBI.
Hegan held the American League record with 178 consecutive errorless games at the position until it was broken by Boston’s Kevin Youkilis in 2007.
Since 1981, he lent his name to Mike Hegan’s “Field of Dreams,” a batting cage and instructional facility in New Berlin.
While in semi-retirement since leaving the Indians booth in 2011, Hegan was the hitting coach for his grandson’s traveling youth team.
Hegan is survived by wife Nancy, two sons and four grandchildren.