Written by Bryan Messerly
One of the best pitchers in WVU baseball history, Jim Heise rewrote the Mountaineer record book during his career from 1953-56.
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A native of Scottdale, Pa., Heise set 10 WVU pitching records during his Mountaineer career. Those records include career wins (24), season wins (10), career earned run average (2.22), career strikeouts (277), season strikeouts (111), career winning percentage (.706), career innings pitched (283.1), season innings pitched (106.2), career appearances (58) and season appearances (18). His 58 career appearances still stands as a school record. His career innings pitched currently ranks second, and he is third in career strikeouts.
Heise led the Mountaineers in wins three times, strikeouts four times and ERA once during his career, leading the team in all three categories during the 1955 season. He was named to the all-Southern Conference first team in 1953, 1955 and 1956. Playing for coach Steve Harrick, Heise led WVU to one of its most successful seasons in 1955. The team finished with a 20-6 record and nearly advanced to the College World Series. The Mountaineers compiled a 55-29 record during his career, with Heise being responsible for 24 of those victories.
He graduated from WVU with a bachelor’s degree in education in 1956. Heise then went on to a successful professional baseball career. He was signed before the 1956 season by the Washington Senators as an amateur free agent. He spent the 1956 season pitching for Hobbs Sports (New Mexico) of the B level Southwestern League. He helped the team to the league title, appearing in 21 games with an 8-5 record.
He began the 1957 season with the Midland/Lamesa Indians (Texas) and the Chattanooga Lookouts (Tennessee). He was called up to the American League Washington Senators, where he appeared in eight games under manager Cookie Lavagetto.
From 1958-60, he spent the majority of his time with the Lookouts, but also made appearances with the Charlotte Hornets and the Charleston Senators. He played six seasons in the minor leagues with 145 appearances, 85 starts, 706.0 innings pitched, 35 wins and a 3.88 ERA.
His father, Clarence Heise, spent six seasons with the St. Louis Cardinals.
After Heise retired from professional baseball, he moved to Orlando, where he became a teacher, coach and administrator for 32 years before he retired in 2002.
Heise died at the age of 80 on April 21, 2011. He and his wife, Peggy, were married for 51 years. They had two daughters, Cheryl Vigue and Jamie Olson.