If you like your MLB coffee served fast, hot, and one time only, you must be walking in the company of former Houston Buffs shortstop Bud Hardin. The three-season (1948-50) Buffs infielder picked up one single in seven times at bat for the 1952 Chicago Cubs for a .143 career big league batting average and a small fissure spot on the wall of North Side Chicago baseball failure that is now 105 years old and still counting in 2013.
Bud Hardin’s 13-season minor league career (1942, 1946-57) resulted in a minor league career batting average of .253 and 15 home runs. After baseball, Hardin settled in Ranch Santa Fe, California where he died in 1997 at the age of 75.
As a kid, I remember Bud Hardin as a quiet kind of guy who always seemed to have time for a smile, a wave, or a head nod of acknowledgement for those of us in the Knothole Gang as he was coming out of the Houston clubhouse to take the field at old Buff Stadium. That kindness was never mistaken by us kids as ability. We never dared tell the Buffs shortstop that even the Knothole Gang held no great hope for victory whenever Bud Hardin came to bat in a crucial late inning game situation.We only cheered for results. We never cheered out of expectation until we saw a Buff player prove he could get the job done, but that never happened for Bud Hardin during his time here in Houston.
Too bad. Bud Hardin was a nice guy of considerable bravery. On the front lines in Italy during World War II, Bud earned a Purple Heart for his combat injuries. And that says far more about the man than his long-term batting skills ever did. I also like to remember too whenever the subject is a player’s particular skill deficiencies: Bud Hardin was far better than a few million others of us who only wished for the chances he got in baseball. At least, he played professional baseball. At least, he got to the big leagues, even if it were – only for a cup of coffee.
God rest your soul, friendly Bud! I appreciate you even more today than I ever could have as a kid.