Rest In Peace, Joe Hardy

Rest In Peace


Born: July 11, 1931 in Hannibal MO

Died: July 09, 2018 in Bethesda, MD

Age: 86, 2 Days Shy of 87th Birthday.

Batted: Right ~ Threw: Right

Height: 6’1” ~ Weight: 185

Position: Center Field

Major League Batting Record, One Season ~ Washington Senators:

23 1954 100 423 105 178 122
57 11 59 76 1 12 4 23 .421

Shoeless Joe ~ He ain’t, no mo!

The legendary Joe Hardy passed away at his home in Bethesda, MD earlier today from apparently “natural” causes. In so doing, his death turns out to be about the only observable thing that has come about naturally from Joe before our curious eyes during his lifetime in the Washington DC area.

Are you old enough to remember the 1954 season? That was the year that the Cleveland Indians played most of the AL season as the heir apparent to the benefits now befalling to another good team as a result of an age crack that seemed to be opening up in the five-year (1949-53) championship run of the New York Yankees.

The Washington Senators, as expected, were busy in the early season, simply settling into their usual cellar door spot and squat work, and probably wondering if the relocation of the St. Louis Browns to Baltimore as the Orioles might result in an over-supply of losing baseball in the now closer-to-each-other general physical area – generating concern that a saturation of losing might hurt the home crowd gates in both neighboring cities.

Little Benny Van Buren was the Sens manager in 1954, but he really didn’t have much talent on that club. All he could tell the fans is what he told his players: “Boys and Girls, this game of baseball is only one part talent. – The rest is heart. – You gotta have heart! ~ Miles and Miles and Miles of Heart!”

The Senators seemed doomed to their usual doldrums spot at – or very damn near – the absolute lowest spot in the American League cellar. But then, one day in late May, a magical thing happened.

A very powerful, swift, and athletic young man named Joe Hardy showed up with his agent ~ a sinister, but always smiling and polite fellow named Applegate. Applegate wanted an impromptu tryout for Joe Hardy and – given the fact that the Senators were still reeling from a live and ongoing 13-game losing streak, it didn’t take much to convince Benny Van Buren that he had nothing to lose by giving Joe Hardy a look-see.

Long story short. – Joe played like a direct gift from the baseball gods. Even though they weren’t much for talent, Hardy killed everything the Senator pitchers threw him at the tryout over the fence. Not a single pitch stayed at home. They all left the yard and disappeared into the dark capitol night.

Joe Hardy had a great season before he mysteriously disappeared. His 9th inning home run to deep center field at the Polo Grounds won the 1954 World Series for Washington over the New York Giants. Willie Mays was inches away from a “catch” that would have been celebrated forever, but … you just don’t catch flying balls that seem to defy the laws of both gravity and inertia.

Hardy also caught Willie Mays’ game and series ending long fly to center and kept right on going to the clubhouse. It was probably a half hour later that the Senators all returned to their dead center clubhouse under those stands and realized that Joe was missing. A couple of bat boys were sent out the back stadium exit to look for Joe and they came back with a curious report.

“We didn’t find Joe,” one of the boys said, “but we did find this old guy about two blocks down the street, hobbling away in a Senators uniform. He looked enough like Joe to have been his grandfather, but it could not have been Joe. That guy looked like he was older than dirt.”

How Joe disappeared for a half century and was discovered living in Bethesda about twenty years ago is another story for another day, but we plan to seek out a follow-up interview with Joe’s wife, Mrs. Lola Hardy, and see what she’s willing to tell us about the mystery of her now late husband, after a reasonable period of mourning.

This just in. – One of our reporters says he earlier today went to see Mrs. Hardy at her home and was turned away for an interview. While he was there, he snapped a photo of Mr. Applegate as he was coming out of the Hardy home from his own meeting with Mrs. Hardy.

Mr. Applegate’s new photo now simply fans the flames of mystery. – The guy doesn’t look a day older than he did back in the mid-20th century, when he and Joe Hardy showed up for the latter’s 1954 tryout with the Senators.

Rest in Peace, Joe Hardy (if possible)!

And Rest in Peace too, Tab Hunter! You did a great job as Joe Hardy in the movie version of “Damn Yankees” and you should be remembered favorably for it forever.


Bill McCurdy

Principal Writer, Editor, Publisher

The Pecan Park Eagle





One Response to “Rest In Peace, Joe Hardy”

  1. DAVIS O. BARKER Says:

    I remember 1954 but just barely … the Yankees won 14 pennants during the sixteen year span from 1949 to 1964 … what people don’t notice is that the two years they didn’t win (1954 Indians and 1959 Chisox), the team that ousted them were managed by the same man – Al Lopez … in fact, a Lopez-managed team finished second to NYY in nine of the 14 years they did win … interesting

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