Our interview in 2023 with the former catcher
- California Angels, 1967
Hibbs' Early Career
James Kerr Hibbs was born on September 10, 1944 in Klamath Falls, which is a small town in the south central part of Oregon.
He eventually moved to southern California and went to high school at Ventura High School in Ventura, California.
After graduating from Ventura High in 1962, Hibbs attended Stanford University to play baseball where he starred for four seasons.
During his sophomore year, he had the opportunity to play for the US baseball demonstration team at the 1964 Olympics in Tokyo.
Hibbs had a great Olympic tournament, smashing four home runs, batting .379 and playing behind the plate alongside another future big league catcher, Ken Suarez.
In 1966, Hibbs was selected in the third round of the secondary draft by the Los Angeles Dodgers.
He played 61 games of rookie and single-A ball during the 1966 season. That fall, the California Angels acquired him in the Rule 5 draft.
The Angels were coming off a disappointing 6th place finish and they were seeking young talent to play behind the dish. As such, they kept Hibbs on their big league roster going into the 1967 season.
With the California Angels
Jim Hibbs made his major league debut on April 12, 1967 at Anaheim Stadium. It was a Wednesday night game against the Detroit Tigers in front of 8,344 fans.
He was inserted as a pinch hitter in the bottom of the ninth with his team down 6 - 3.
With Mickey Lolich on the mound, Hibbs grounded out to Tigers second baseman Jake Wood to end the game.
His next MLB appearance came on May 6, 1967 against the Washington Senators.
Angels Manager Bill Rigney again inserted Hibbs into the game as a pinch hitter in the bottom of the ninth for Jay Johnstone.
With two outs and two men on, Senators pitcher Darold Knowles struck Hibbs out.
A week later, Hibbs made his third MLB appearance at Comiskey Park against the Chicago White Sox.
In the ninth, he stepped in as a pinch hitter for Nick Willhite and White Sox starter Jim O'Toole struck out Hibbs.
That would be his final appearance in the MLB. Hibbs spent the remainder of the 1967 season with the single-A Quad City Angels and the double-A El Paso Sun Kings.
Career After 1967
Hibbs spent the rest of his playing career in the minor leagues at the double-A and triple-A levels.
After the 1968 season, Hibbs spent a year in the Cincinnati Reds system before moving to the Chicago Cubs' triple-A club, where he would spend the next four years without a call up.
Despite hitting a respectable .270 in 71 games for the 1973 Wichita Aeros (the triple-A team for the Chicago Cubs), Hibbs hung up his cleats and retired after the season.
After retiring from baseball, Hibbs made a career as a real estate broker and a dealer of specialty baseball equipment such as pitching machines.
He also became an author, writing the book "A Catcher's Story" and "Instant Baseball".
Hibbs is a member of the Stanford University sports Hall of Fame and he continues to live in California to this day.
Q&A with Jim Hibbs
Although Jim Hibbs only had a brief cup of coffee in the major leagues, he was a talented catcher who spent years playing professional baseball among some greats of the game.
Recently, I reached out to Mr. Hibbs and asked him a few questions about his life and career.
He provided answers to my questions and signed an index card for me.
His responses to my questions are below.
Question 1: What is your favorite memory from your playing career?
Answer: Playing for Tommy Lasorda with Billy Russell and Charlie Hough in Ogden, Utah Pioneer League.
(Author's Note: This happened to be Hibbs' first season in pro baseball and Tommy Lasorda's second season ever as a manager. Russell and Hough would go on to have long MLB careers.)
Question 2: In your opinion, who was the best picture you ever had the opportunity to catch? What made them the best?
Answer: Ferguson Jenkins and Juan Pizarro. 6 straight 20 game seasons.
Question 3: After your time as a player ended, what did you do next in your career?
Answer: Real Estate Broker. New home construction plus resales. 10 years. Since 1990 ATEC wholesale dealer. Retired 2015.
That's A Wrap!
It's always a thrill when we hear from catchers that played in the majors, no matter how long they were in the league.
We enjoy writing these short bios and sharing with our readers these Q&A's - also referred to as Pro Perspectives. Feel free to check out more of them.
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