In his final game as a high school pitcher, Rich Hinton struck out 15 batters in the first-ever North-South All-Star Game in Phoenix.
Here’s the catch: the lefty from Marana High School did so in just six innings.
Two days later, he was drafted by the Los Angeles Dodgers.
So when Hinton arrived on Arizona’s campus in the fall of 1965, the Wildcats suspected they were on to something special. How special?
In Hinton’s final appearance as a Wildcat, on May 16, 1969, he pitched a complete-game to beat UTEP to win his 14th game of the season, setting a school record. Not only that, Hinton hit a home run and triple and had five RBI against UTEP; when not pitching, Hinton hit .287 in 86 at-bats as a right-fielder.
A few weeks later, Hinton signed a bonus contract with the Chicago White Sox and began a MLB career that would cover 116 games over six seasons. But it’s what Hinton did at Arizona, not in MLB, that seemed to secure his place in the UA Sports Hall of Fame.
He went 14-2 as a senior, 1969, with a school-record 1.07 ERA.
His career numbers are equally remarkable: 32-8, which all these years later remains the fourth-highest win total by an Arizona pitcher. His senior year ERA of 1.07 has never been topped.
“I know I can make the majors as a pitcher,” Hinton said in June 1969. “But if my arm goes out, I know I can play the outfield. I’ve got speed and I know I can hit.”
Not only did Hinton have all the baseball tools, but on the way to the Tucson airport for a 1969 baseball series, the team bus stalled on the roadside. Hinton, who grew up on his father’s farm in Marana and learned how to fix farm machinery, got off the bus, under the hood and got the bus running again.