April 9, 2006
Auburn, Ala. - Former Auburn football and baseball standout Billy Hitchcock, passed away early Sunday at the age of 89. A native of Union Springs, Ala., Hitchcock led Auburn to its first football bowl game and its first Southeastern Conference baseball title in 1937.
A single-wing halfback, Hitchcock led Auburn to the Bacardi Bowl in Havana, Cuba, on Jan. 1, 1937, where he scored Auburn's only TD, a 40-yard run, in a 7-7 tie against Villanova. As captain and shortstop on the baseball team, "Mr. Billy" lettered in 1936 and 1937 while leading the Tigers to their first conference baseball title as a senior.
"We are very saddened by the passing of Mr. Billy," said Auburn Athletics Director Jay Jacobs. "A true gentleman, he was a very compassionate and giving person who meant a great deal to this University. He had a great love for Auburn and Auburn people and will truly be missed. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the Hitchcock family."
In 1997 Hitchcock and his late brother, Jimmy, Auburn's first All-American in both baseball and football, were honored as the field at Plainsman Park was renamed Hitchcock Field. The men's golf program also annually hosts the Billy Hitchcock Invitational, which was held this weekend for the 19th time.
Hitchcock spent over forty years in professional baseball as a player, manager, scout, coach, and minor league executive while earning the title of "The Dignified War Eagle." For nine seasons between 1942 and 1953, he was an infielder with five major league clubs, which included stints with the Detroit Tigers, Washington Senators, St. Louis Browns, Boston Red Sox and Philadelphia Athletics.
Following his major league career, Hitchcock served a big league manager with the Tigers, Baltimore Orioles and Atlanta Braves in the 1960s.
Hitchcock, who was a lieutenant in the Army reserves, served in the Army Air Force and advanced to the rank of major by the end of World War II, earning the Bronze Star for service in the Pacific and three battle stars.
Hitchcock spent the decade of the 1970s serving as the highly respected president of the Southern League before retiring in 1980.
Hitchcock, who resided in Opelika, is survived by his wife Betty Ann and five children.
The visitation will be Monday from 6-8 p.m. CT at Jeffcoat-Trant Funeral Home in Opelika with funeral services Tuesday at 2 p.m. at Trinity Presbyterian Church in Opelika.