Fred Hopke

From BR Bullpen

Frederick Lawrence Hopke

BR register page

Biographical Information[edit]

Fred Hopke hit 30 home runs in a minor league season once and spent seven seasons at AAA but never played a game in the majors.

Hopke was All-State in basketball and baseball in high school. [1] He began his career in 1956 with the Tifton Phillies, hitting .266/?/.436 with 20 home runs. He was 4th in the Georgia-Florida League in homers. In '57, he produced at a .337/.413/.474 clip with 36 doubles, 106 runs, 90 RBI and 61 walks for the Salt Lake City Bees. He was 6th in the Pioneer League in runs (between Moby Benedict and Jay Cooke), 4th in average (between Glen Plaster and Maurice Lerner), 4th in hits, 2nd in doubles (8 behind Plaster), 10th in RBI and 10th in OPS. [2]

He had his first struggles in 1958 with the Miami Marlins (.205/.298/.265 in his first 28 AAA games) and hit .284/?/.408 for the Williamsport Grays that year. In '59, he batted .316/.388/.561 with 29 doubles, 30 home runs, 80 runs and 130 RBI for Williamsport. He tied Bill Kern for 8th in the Eastern League in doubles, tied Hermenio Cortes for 2nd in dingers (3 behind Jacke Davis), led in RBI (8 ahead of Lee Thomas), led in putouts (1,066) at 1B and double plays at 1B (115), was 6th in average (between Kern and Buddy Reedy), was 8th in slugging (between Moose Stubing and Lou Jackson), led in slugging (.004 ahead of Davis), led in OPS (19 ahead of Davis), tied Thomas for 3rd with 273 total bases and led with 13 times plunked. [3]

The big first baseman did better in his second look at AAA, hitting .286/.389/.472 with 13 homers in 88 games for the 1960 Buffalo Bisons. He was then traded by the Philadelphia Phillies with Wally Post and Harry Anderson to the Cincinnati Reds for Lee Walls and Tony González; he was the only one of the five who would never play in the majors. He hit only .200/.263/.235 in 24 games for the Seattle Rainiers after the deal. In late August he quit because he "was getting paid for work that I didn't deliver and it preyed on me". Hopke had gone hitless in his last 31 at-bats. Rainiers GM Ced Tallis offered to fly his family in from New Jersey, but it was too late [1]. The next winter Hopke was given a raise by the Reds and went to spring training hoping to make the big club, but he didn't, was hoping to be assigned to the Jersey City Jerseys [2]. Instead he was assigned to the Indianapolis Indians and struggled (.225/.286/.357) while splitting first with Don Pavletich.

The Connecticut native split 1962 between the St. Louis Cardinals' Atlanta Crackers and the Washington Senators' Syracuse Chiefs. He hit .327/.388/.474 with 15 long balls and 71 RBI between the two clubs. He was 29 plate appearances shy of qualifying for the International League lead or he would have been 3rd behind Vic Davalillo and Pete Ward. [4] He spent the next two summers with the New York Yankees' Richmond Virginians affiliate. He hit .262/.363/.467 with 13 HR in 321 AB in '63 and .260/.353/.404 with 16 home runs in 1964. Of the 19 players in the 1964 IL with 16 or more homers, he is the only one who never played in the big leagues.

Hopke led the Puerto Rican League with 12 homers for the Mayaguez Indians in 1964-1965. He was still only 28 years old. [5] Back with the Chiefs in 1965, he hit .243/.315/.351 to end his career.

He later was assistant coach at Seton Hall University in the 1980s-1990s, working with young players like Craig Biggio, Mo Vaughn and John Valentin. [6]


  1. Seton Hall obituary
  2. 1958 Baseball Guide, pg. 331 as well as B-R register]
  3. 1960 Baseball Guide, pg. 253-257 plus B-R register]
  4. 1963 Baseball Guide, pg. 271 and 273
  5. Diamonds Around the Globe, pg. 258
  6. Seton Hall University

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