Remember That Guy: Greg Hibbard

Chris Kamka
NBC Sports Chicago

Hawk Harrelson called him the "Little Bulldog" and he was a solid middle rotation guy for a couple years. A tenacious competitor, he hung in there and had a few memorable moments on the mound on the South Side.

Greg Hibbard. Remember that guy?

Born Sept. 13, 1964, in New Orleans, Hibbard was drafted first by the Astros in the eighth round in 1984 (but didn't sign), then again by the Royals in 16th round in 1986 out of the University of Alabama. He came over to the White Sox in a Dec. 10, 1987, trade with pitchers Melido Perez, John Davis and Chuck Mount in exchange for pitcher Floyd Bannister and utility man Dave Cochrane.

The White Sox saw something in Hibbard, who went 16-9 with a 2.36 ERA across three minor league stops in 1987. After a year and a half of seasoning with Triple-A Vancouver, the White Sox desperately needed some pitching towards the end of May 1989. Through the first 50 games of the season, the White Sox team ERA was a dismal 5.25. Bill Long was sent to the minors and up came Hibbard, who made his big league debut May 31 against the Tigers.

Hibbard held his own. His first Major League inning went like this: Gary Pettis strikeout, Chet Lemon flyout, Lou Whitaker strikeout. He turned in a quality start, going six innings allowing four hits and two runs, but Bobby Thigpen allowed a two-run homer to Whitaker in the eighth inning and the Tigers snuffed out a 4-3 victory.

On June 16, only his fourth start, he went toe to toe with Roger Clemens, trading zeros through eight innings until the BoSox scratched a pair of runs against the White Sox bullpen and Hibbard was left with another no-decision.

It was a successful debut year for the crafty lefty (you have to be crafty to succeed with 55 strikeouts in 137.1 innings). He had a 6-7 record, but his 3.21 ERA led White Sox starters.

The next year was even better, as Hibbard posted a 14-9 record with a 3.16 ERA (again leading all White Sox starters), topping the 200-inning mark for what would be the only time in his career (211 IP). It was definitely an eventful season.

The Sox southpaw tossed at least seven innings in 18 of his 33 starts. The most unique win of the season came on July 1 – the 80th anniversary of the first game at Comiskey Park. Hibbard tossed seven shutout innings and allowed four hits – four more than his mound opponent Andy Hawkins, who tossed eight no-hit innings and lost 4-0 on four unearned runs. We broke this game down on a Distant Replay edition of the White Sox Talk Podcast.

On August 3, Hibbard got the win in a complete game at Milwaukee. Frank Thomas (who debuted the day before) collected his first major league hit – a triple – in this game.

On August 17 in Game 1 of a doubleheader at Texas, Hibbard went up against the pitcher who he named as his hero (according to his 1991 Studio baseball card), Nolan Ryan. Just as he did with Roger Clemens the year before, he traded zeros with a legendary Texan for eight innings, leaving with a no-decision in a White Sox loss. But this one got wild.

In the fifth inning, Hibbard drilled Steve Buechele (possibly in retaliation for Ryan hitting Craig Grebeck earlier in the game) and the Rangers third baseman charged the mound and a brawl broke out.

Hibbard stayed in the game and pitched through the eighth inning. The Rangers walked it off in the 13th.

In Game 2 of the twinbill, Carlton Fisk made history by passing Harold Baines for the White Sox record in career home runs with 187 AND passing Johnny Bench for the MLB record for home runs as a catcher with 328. A few weeks later, Hibbard tossed his first career shutout on September 5 against the Royals; four of his six strikeouts were of Bo Jackson. 

The next two seasons, Hibbard was not nearly as good, going 11-11 with a 4.31 ERA in 1991 and 10-7 with a 4.40 ERA in 1992, which might be expected from a pitcher who records as few strikeouts as Hibbard did.

Through the 1992 season, Hibbard was 41-34 with a 3.78 ERA, a very respectable achievement, but he was deemed expendable by the White Sox and was unprotected in the November 1992 expansion draft. The lefty was selected by the Florida Marlins and then traded to the Cubs for Alex Arias and Gary Scott.

Hibbard rebounded for the North Siders in 1993, posting a 15-11 record to go along with a 3.96 ERA. His 15 victories were the most by a Cubs lefty since Ken Holtzman in 1970. One of those wins came on his birthday on Sept. 13, making him the first (and only) pitcher to earn a birthday win for both the White Sox (1989) and Cubs (1993). He made his final start of the year on September 29, and the Cubs would go 422 straight starts by righties before the next time a lefty made a start for the franchise (Terry Mulholland on Opening Day 1997).

After not getting an offer from the Cubs, Hibbard signed a 3-year, $6.75 million contract with the Mariners for 1994-96. Unfortunately, it was a disaster from day one. Hibbard posted a 6.69 ERA over 15 games (14 starts) in 1994 and never pitched again due to a bad shoulder. He retired officially in early 1997.

Hibbard has had a long coaching career since hanging up the spikes. He started in 1999 with the independent Schaumburg Flyers under manager Ron Kittle, then beginning with 2002 he spent 13 seasons coaching in the Indians system. The last four seasons he has served as a pitching coach in the Texas Rangers organization; 2016-17 with Round Rock (Triple-A) and 2018-19 with Frisco (Double-A).

Remember That Guy: Greg Hibbard originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago

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