Bert Heffernan's old college coach remembered Heffernan as the toughest he'd seen, according to the book "Clemson; Where the Tigers Play."
The former Clemson catcher had been well known for his tough play and dirty uniforms, according to the book.
"There are three things that make Heffernan stand out from any other player I've ever seen anywhere," Heffernan's coach at Clemson Bill Willhelm said, according to the book. "One, he's not afraid of getting dirty and two, he's not afraid of getting hurt, and most importantly, he's not afraid of embarrassing himself. He has a good time playing this game."
Heffernan went on from Clemson to a long career in the pros. In one of those seasons, he stood out enough to make the majors. He saw eight games in 1992 with the Mariners, marking the extent of his big league career.
Heffernan's career began in 1988, taken by the Brewers in the ninth round of the draft out of Clemson. Heffernan started with the Brewers between rookie Helena and single-A Beloit. He hit .276 over 70 games.
He played all of 1989 at Beloit, then moved to AA El Paso for 1990. That April, he spoke to The El Paso Times about his reputation as an all-out player. That's just the way he was, he told The Times.
"People have always told me 'you're gonna get tired, you're gonna get tired.' Well, bull on that. I'm just gonna keep on bustin' my butt," Heffernan told The Times.
Heffernan hit .279 that year with El Paso that year. Traded to the Dodgers in December, he played 1991 with AAA Albuquerque. He hit .330 in 67 games.
He arrived with the Mariners for 1992 by way of the minor league draft. He debuted in Seattle May 13 and played his final big league game June 4. He got to the plate 11 times in eight games and picked up a single hit. He also picked up an RBI.
Heffernan moved to the Giants system for 1993. Then, after not being recorded as playing in 1994, played 1996 and 1996 at AAA Ottawa for the Expos to end his playing career.
He then returned in 2000 as a player/coach with independent Long Island.
- El Paso Times, April 16, 1990: Hustle, talent help Diablos' catcher move up baseball ladder
- Clemson: Where the Tigers Play, 2017: Heffernan rules behind the plate