Don Hoak was a 6'1" right handed third baseman from Roulette, Pennsylvania. Born February 5, 1928, he was signed by the Brooklyn Dodgers as an amateur free agent in 1947. His first four professional seasons were spent in the lower level of Brooklyn's farm system. He played 1947 with the Valdosta Dodgers in the Georgia/Florida League (.295 in 134 games), 1948 with the Nashua Dodgers in the New England League (.283 through 120 games), 1949 with the Greenville Spinners in the South Atlantic League (.231 in 133 games) and 1950 with the Fort Worth Cats of the Texas League (.280 in 141 games).
In 1951, Hoak made played his first season in "AAA" level ball, with the St. Paul Saints (.257 in 126 games) and the Montreal Royals (two games, one hit). He would stay with the Royals for two more seasons, totalling a .274 average with 227 walks in 410 games of triple A ball. He would never again appear in the minors.
1954 would see Hoak open the season with the Dodgers. Over two seasons with the club, he hit .243 with 12 home runs and 45 RBI in 182 games. He would later appear with the Chicago Cubs for the 1956 season (.215, five home runs, 37 RBI, 121 games), and two seasons with the Cincinnati Redlegs (263 games, .279, 25 home runs, 139 RBI).
Hoak was involved in a play that ended with an NL rule change early in 1957. According to Wikipedia:
In a game against the Milwaukee Braves on April 21, Hoak was involved in a controversial play that would lead to a change in the rules. He was on second base and teammate Gus Bell was on first, when Wally Post hit a ground ball to short. Hoak broke up a potential double play by fielding the ball himself and flipping it to Milwaukee shortstop, Johnny Logan. Hoak was called out for interference, but Post was given a single on the play. The day before Johnny Temple let Bell's ground ball hit him with the same result, Temple being called out for interference and Bell being awarded a single. The two incidents prompted league presidents Warren Giles and Will Harridge to jointly announce a rule change that declared both the runner and batter out if the runner intentionally interferes with a batted ball, with no runners allowed to advance. (Without the new rule, it was sometimes advantageous for a runner to touch a batted ball, because doing so avoided a double play. The rule, which put Temple and Hoak out, still exists that a runner is out if a batted ball touches him in fair territory before it touches a fielder, with the batter getting a single and no runner advancing unless forced.)
1959 would see Hoak play in an NL leading 155 games, ranking 17th in the season ending NL MVP voting. He hit .294 with a league seventh best 71 walks, eight home runs and 65 RBI. He sometimes batted first, fifth, or sixth in the order, but mostly seventh. He started every game of the season at third base. He had 45 multi hit games on the season, including 10 games in which he collected three. His best performance of the season was on June 11th in a 12-9 win over the San Francisco Giants, as he went 3-of-4 with a walk, a run, and two RBI on the game winning single in the bottom of the eighth. The Pirates went 78-76, finishing fourth in the NL, nine games behind the Los Angeles Dodgers.
In 1960, Hoak again played in 155 games at third, mostly batting seventh in the order. He hit .282 with an NL sixth most 74 walks, seventh most 97 runs, 16 home runs and 79 RBI. He also finished second in the NL MVP Award voting, behind teammate Dick Groat. At 95-59, the Pirates won the NL pennant by seven games over the second place Milwaukee Braves. On June 15th, Hoak went 3-for-4 with two runs a double, a triple a sacrifice fly, and four RBI in a 14-6 win over the San Francisco Giants. In the World Series, the Bucs took all seven games to defeat the AL Champion New York Yankees. Hoak went five-for-23 with four walks, three runs and three RBI.
Hoak hit a career high .298 in 1961, batting second, fifth, sixth, or seventh in the order for 145 games at third base. He hit 12 homers and 61 RBI, walking an NL fifth best 73 times. On May 21st, he went 3-for-6 with a run (on his own home run) and five RBI in a 13-11 win over the Philadelphia Philles. The Pirates fell off from their world championship campaign of the season before with a 75-79, sixth place effort, 18 games behind the pennant winning Cincinnati Reds.
1962 would see Hoak hit .241 in 121 games for the Bucs. He scored 63 times, knocking in 48 while walking 49 times. He batted mostly sixth and seventh, appearing defensively exclusively at third base. On April 17th, he went 2-for-5 with two doubles, three runs and three RBI in a 10-6 Pittsburgh win over the Chicago Cubs. The Pirates finished with a 93-68 record, sometimes good enough, but only clinching fourth in 1962, eight games behind the San Francisco Giants. He was traded to the Philadelphia Phillies after the season for Pancho Herrera and Ted Savage.
Hoak played 121 games over two seasons with the Phillies to close out his career, hitting .228 with six home runs and 24 RBI. After retirement, he worked as a Pirates' broadcaster, a coach for the Phillies, and as a manager in the Pirates farm system. He died on October 9th, 1969 of a heart attack while chasing his brother-in-law's stolen car.
All-Time Statline: Four seasons, 576 games, 571-of-2031, .281/.364/.415, 94 doubles, 27 triples, 41 home runs, 253 RBI, 20 stolen bases, 267 walks, 251 strikeouts, 12.1 wins above replacement