Joseph Thomas Hesketh (born February 15, 1959 in Lackawanna, New York) is a former pitcher in Major League Baseball who played from 1984 through 1994 for the Montreal Expos (1984–90), Atlanta Braves (1990) and Boston Red Sox (1990–94). Listed at 6' 2", 170 lb., Hesketh batted right-handed and threw left-handed. He was selected by the Expos in the 1980 draft out of the State University of New York at Buffalo.
One of the most dominant pitchers in UB history, Hesketh compiled an overall 1.77 ERA, including a notable 0.91 during his junior season. He also had 10 complete games for the Buffalo Bulls and pitched one of the greatest wins in school history – a 4-0 shutout against powerful St. John’s team and future major league star Frank Viola. Hesketh also picked up the save in a victory on the road over nationally ranked University of Miami. After that, he earned the 1980 ECAC New York-New Jersey District Player of the Year honors, as his six shutouts for the Bulls remain a school record.
In 1984, Hesketh was named the American Association pitcher of the year after going 12-3 with a 3.05 ERA and 135 strikeouts in 147⅔ innings for the Indianapolis Indians. He joined the Montreal Expos late in the season and ended with a 2-2, 1.80 ERA in 11 appearances. His debut on the 7th of August against the Philadelphia Phillies was unusual, in that he was called for a balk before he delivered his first pitch. In 1985 he was 10-5 with a 3.29 ERA in 25 starts, allowing just 125 hits in a career-high 155⅓ innings into late August, but a home plate collision broke his leg and his season was over. He was considered in the National League Rookie of the Year vote. In 1986 he was bothered by an impinged nerve in his left shoulder, then missed virtually all of 1987. While Hesketh did bounce back to some extent as a reliever, he never completely recovered.
Hesketh was released by Montreal in April 1990. At least a half-dozen teams claimed him, so he ended up in Atlanta by virtue of the Braves' poor record. Then, although he had recorded five saves, the Braves released him after 31 appearances. Once more, he was not out of work long, as the Boston Red Sox quickly signed him in late July.
in 1991 Hesketh came back of several injury-plagued seasons. He ended with a 12-4 mark in 39 games for Boston, including 17 starts and a career second-best 153⅓ innings, as his .750 won-loss % topped American League pitchers. The next three years he divided his playing time as a starter, middle reliever, and occasional closer. He retired after the 1994 season.
In an 11-season career, Hesketh posted a 60-47 record with a 3.78 ERA in 339 appearances, including 114 starts, four complete games, two shutouts, 79 games finished, 21 saves, 726 strikeouts, 378 walks, and 961⅔ innings of work.
Hesketh is a member of both the UB Athletic Hall of Fame (Class of ’86) as well as the Greater Buffalo Sports Hall of Fame (2002). In 2006, he was named the Bulls’ pitching coach by head coach Ron Torgalski. His tenure with the UB Bulls ended after the 2007–2008 season.
- ^ "Balk Records". baseball-almanac.com. Retrieved 4 April 2012.
By Dean Hanley
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