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Wednesday, July 28, 2021

Mike Hart spent enough time in the game, more than three decades, as player, coach

Already a veteran of several seasons as a minor league manager, Mike Hart arrived at high-A Fort Lauderdale for 1990 and cited his his experience, according to The Miami Herald.

That experience also included as a player getting to the majors for five total games with the Rangers.

"Anybody who spends enough time in the game has seen a lot of things. He certainly should have experienced a lot of things," Hart told The Herald. "I played at all levels. I know what is ahead for the players. That can only help me."

Hart went on from Fort Lauderdale to coach and manage in the minors for almost two decades more. He spent seven of those seasons as a coach at AAA.

Hart's long career in baseball began in 1972, taken by the Expos in the 11th round of the draft out of Kalamazoo Valley Community College.

He started with the Expos at short-season Jamestown. He made AA Quebec in 1975 and AAA Denver in 1977. He moved to the Rangers system for 1979 then, in June 1980, his ninth pro season, he got called up to Texas.

Along the way, Hart wasn't sure he could continue on long enough to make the bigs, The Fort Worth Star-Telegram wrote. But he kept going.

"In my situation," Hart told The Star-Telegram, "it would  have meant putting all this time in and having absolutely nothing to show for it. That's a tough thing  to live with. To face the reality that you've just wasted eight years of your life. I couldn't do that - at least not yet anyway."

Hart got into five games and picked up one hit in four at bats. Hart played the next three seasons in the minors at AAA, then started his coaching career soon after.

By 1987, he was back in the minors as manager with the Orioles at short-season Newark. He managed at AA Reading for 1989, then Fort Lauderdale for 1990.

He managed 1993 at AA  Albany-Colonie. He returned to AAA in 1999 as hitting coach at Fresno. In July 2000, Hart talked to The Fresno Bee about some recent call-ups from AA and playing time.

"It's tough for anybody not to play every day," Hart told The Bee. "But when the young guys don't play, they start doubting themselves."

Hart continued on in the minors through at least 2009. He's last credited with the Mets as hitting coach that year at high-A St. Lucie.

1990 Minor League Tally 
Players/Coaches Featured:3,706
Made the Majors:1,257-33.9%
Never Made Majors:2,449-66.1%
5+ Seasons in the Majors:522
10+ Seasons in the Minors:309

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