Space Coast Sports Hall Spotlight: Clint Hurdle Dominated High School Baseball
By Space Coast Daily // December 28, 2019
Legend in youth and high school baseball
ABOVE VIDEO: Clint Hurdle was a legend in youth and high school baseball, and the most promising professional baseball prospect to ever come from Brevard County.
CLINT HURDLE – 2012 INDUCTEE
• All-State Prep Baseball Player
• No. 1 Pick Major League Draft
• Major League Manager
RAW POWER, MATURITY
Clint Hurdle was a legend in youth and high school baseball, and the most promising professional baseball prospect to ever come from Brevard County.
Born in 1957, he moved with his family in1961 from Michigan to Florida so that his father could take a job at the Kennedy Space Center.
Based on his baseball exploits in youth baseball and at Merritt Island High where he hit an incredible .565, Hurdle came to the attention of Bill Fischer, a Cocoa resident and the minor league pitching instructor for the Kansas City Royals.
Fischer was impressed with Hurdle’s raw power, maturity and tremendous potential, and in the spring of 1975 recommended that Kansas City draft Hurdle.
After Charlie Lau, highly respected major league batting instructor, saw Hurdle take batting practice at the Royals’ minor league complex, he agreed that this was a “can’t-miss” prospect, and the deal was sealed.
“From the time he took his first swing there was no doubt in my mind,” Lau said.
Hurdle was taken by the Kansas City Royals with the ninth pick of Major League Baseball’s Amateur Draft in 1975, and in 1978 was touted as a rookie phenom in an article in Sport Illustrated by Larry Keith.
He played 515 major league games over a 10-season career, mostly as an outfielder with some appearances at first base, third base, catcher and designated hitter. He compiled a .259 lifetime batting average with 32 home runs and 193 runs batted in.
Hurdle was, and continues to be, the consummate professional. He is a successful major league manager, guiding the 2007 Colorado Rockies to the National League Pennant, and is currently the skipper of the Pittsburgh Pirates.
His professional playing career, which included five years with the Royals and stints with the Reds, Mets and Cardinals, undoubtedly prepared him well for his career as a manager in the Major Leagues.
NATURAL THREE SPORT ATHLETE
Hurdle is being inducted into the Space Coast Sports Hall of Fame as one of the most preeminent and dominant amateur and high school baseball players to ever compete on the ball diamonds of the Space Coast.
Former Merritt Island football coach Gerald Odom sometimes wonders how Hurdle would have fared in football.
Offered a football scholarship to play quarterback for the University of Miami, Hurdle opted to play professional baseball instead.
“Clint was an outstanding young man,” said Odom, who compiled a 268-85-2 record in a storied coaching career at Merritt Island High, New Smyrna Beach High and Cocoa High.
“He was a natural three-sport athlete in football, basketball and baseball. He was a hard worker, and I think he could have been a good one in football.”
Former Merritt Island baseball coach Chuck Goldfarb also has fond memories of Hurdle.
“I’ve known him since he was 12,” said Goldfarb, who now is the athletic director at Cocoa High. “His father (Clinton) is one my dearest friends. Clint had by far the most talent of any player I had. He also was the hardest worker.”
In reflecting back on the March 1978 cover story about Hurdle as the season’s “can’t-miss” prospect and the ensuing developments and circumstances surrounding Hurdle’s career, the author Larry Keith had this to say in October of 2007 as manager Hurdle’s Cinderella Colorado Rockies were about to take on the Red Sox in the World Series, “I’m hoping Hurdle wins, because, if he does, maybe folks will stop reminding him that he fell short as a player.
“After all, as a man and a manager, he seems to be doing rather nicely.”
THE 2020 SPACE COAST SPORTS HALL OF FAME Banquet and Induction Ceremony will take place at the Cocoa Beach Country Club on Friday, May 8.
TO MAKE A NOMINATION to the Space Coast Sports Hall of Fame Class of 2020 call 321-615-8111 or e-mail Contact@SpaceCoastDaily.com
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