posted 5/6/12 12:01 PM PST
by Andrew Martin
When Adam Hydzu came out of high school he was a hot shot prospect, selected in the first round of the 1990 MLB draft by the San Francisco Giants in 1990. The future looked promising for the slugging outfielder as he started his professional career. Few people, including Hyzdu, would have guessed that it would take him 10 years to reach the major leagues. Despite his lengthy path to the majors, his work paid off, and while he never became a regular player, he was able to claim being part of baseball history before his career came to an end.
As he progressed through the minors, Hyzdu developed a reputation as a solid defensive outfielder whose right-handed swing produced a good number of home runs, but also a lot of strikeouts. He typically struggled initially when promoted to a higher level, but when repeating it the following year, saw his production blossom. Although he hit as many as 30 home runs, in 1999, he lost his status as a top prospect and bounced around between the Giants, Reds, Red Sox, Diamondbacks, and Pirates’ organizations.
Hyzdu’s breakthrough came in 2000 while playing for the Pirates Triple-A affiliate. He hit .290 with 31 home runs and 106 RBI, intriguing the talent-poor Pirates. He hit .389 in a brief September call-up, showing he could handle major league pitching. Over the next several seasons he yo-yoed between the minors and Pittsburgh, serving as a valuable backup outfielder, but never receiving prolonged big league playing time.
Following the 2003 season, Hyzdu signed as a free agent with the Red Sox to provide organizational depth for a team built for the playoffs. Although he played in only 17 major league games (with just 10 at bats) in 2004, Hydzu became part of baseball history as a member of the curse-breaking Red Sox team that won their first World Series in 86 years. He didn’t make the postseason roster but received a championship ring on Opening Day the following year.
Hyzdu became the epitome of a journeyman player, playing with the Red Sox and San Diego Padres in 2005 and the Texas Rangers in 2006. He called it a career following a stint in Japan in 2007, never having found the stardom he was once pegged for, but making the most out of the opportunity he received after years of hard work. He appeared in a total of 221 major league games over parts of seven seasons, hitting .229 with 19 home runs and 61 RBI. His 18 year minor league career produced a .275 batting average, 280 home runs, and 1,024 RBI in 1,750 games.
Although Hyzdu’s career didn’t unfold the way many thought it would when he first joined the pro ranks, he left the game knowing that he will always be part of history. Compared to the many players who have come and gone without such distinction, Hyzdu can consider his career quite the success.
Adam Hyzdu Interview
How did you first become interested in baseball and what sports did you play growing up?
I liked all sports and played them all. Baseball just paid first, haha.
Who was your favorite player growing up?
What was the draft process and choosing an agent like?
The draft was actually disappointing because the Braves and then the Reds passed and I grew up hating the Giants. My agent was referred to me by Buddy Bell.
Who was your most influential coach or manager?
Mike Cameron, Joe Hayden, Marty Brown, Ken Macha.
What is the strangest thing you ever saw at a baseball game?
In one game I saw a pitcher snap his arm in two. Also, an apartment behind the field burned down and then the other teams’ shortstop had a seizure.
Who was the biggest character you ever played with or against?
What is your favorite moment from your playing career?
Winning the 2004 World Series, and winning the National League Player of the Week, on a personal level.
Is there anything you would do differently if you could do your playing career over?
Had more confidence and worked out sooner in my career- maybe those would of worked hand in hand.
What have you done since you stopped playing?
I worked for Children’s Miracle Network and now own an RV dealership.
How has being a member of the 2004 Boston Red Sox impacted you?
It’s been cool to go back from time to time. No better place to win a Championship.
Andrew Martin is a freelance writer with a Master's Degree in history from the University of Vermont. He's always searching for interesting stories related to baseball, baseball history, or both. His belief that every baseball player has a unique story fuels his passion for the game. Follow him on Twitter @historianandrew and check out his blog at baseballhistorian.blogspot.com.