Larry Hisle hit 166 home runs and earned spots on two All-Star teams in a 14-year Major League career. Now, the former outfielder does something even more important than smashing line drives off hanging curveballs. He mentors at-risk kids in the Milwaukee area.
I ran across an article about Hisle, written by Gary D’Amato in the Nov. 8, 2011, edition of the Milwaukee Journal. Hisle is on call at all hours to help young men in trouble. The 67-year-old goes to schools, jails, courthouses and rough neighborhoods. He asks cops, judges and principals for “the toughest nuts to crack.”
D’Amato also writes about Hisle’s own tragic youth, one that left the Portsmouth, Ohio, native an orphan at age 10. Hisle put all of his energy into sports, especially baseball and basketball. Now, he channels his past and his athletic energy into a passion for helping youngsters. “I just want children to be left with a better life than what I was left with,” Hisle says in the article. “I want them to experience the feeling I had in my life when I realized that I really mattered.”
Do you remember much about Hisle as a player? The Philadelphia Phillies drafted him out of high school. He spent parts of four seasons with the big club and hit 20 home runs (3.7 WAR) in 1969. He developed into a star during his five years with the Minnesota Twins (1973-77).
Hisle hit 28 home runs with 119 RBI and .a 302 batting average (144 OPS+, 5.1 WAR) in 1977. Contract talks broke down that offseason, and he left for the Milwaukee Brewers. In his first year with his new team, Hisle hit 34 home runs with 115 RBI and a .290 batting average (153 OPS+, 5.3 WAR).
A rotator cuff injury put a premature end to the slugger’s on-field career. He worked as a hitting coach for the Brewers and the Toronto Blue Jays before taking on his role as full-time youth mentor. Outgoing baseball commissioner and former Brewers owner Bud Selig offered high praise to his one-time employee. “What a wonderful human being,” Selig said in the Journal article. “He is one of the nicest human beings I’ve met in my entire life. And I really mean that.”