Where Are They Now?: Baseball's Hank Hillin
Wednesday, August 12, 2015
Where Are They Now?: Baseball's Hank Hillin

Hank "Paw Paw" Hillin is a retired agent for the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and a former Davidson County Sheriff, but he keeps busy. His first book, "FBI: Codename Tennpar" detailed his work on an investigation of then-governor Ray Blanton. Hillin is putting the finishing touches on his third book, an examination of the political history of Davidson County. He talked this week with Lipscombsports.com.

 What years did you play baseball at Lipscomb? Who were your coaches?

"I enrolled at Lipscomb in 1948. I didn't play that fall, but I made the squad every year after that. I graduated in1952 so I played in '50, '51 and '52.

"I was a pitcher. When I first started I played first base some but I wasn't first string there.

"My first coach was Herman Waddell. He was replaced by Axel Swang during the season of '52."

Why did you choose to attend Lipscomb?

"It was the wonderful inspiration of Bob Mason. Bob was the coach of a Larry Gilbert League team here in Nashville. At the end of the season he went around the horn and asked each person what they were going to do with their lives. When it came to my turn I said I was going to get a job and try to catch on with a pro team the next year and maybe I would make it.

"He said, `wait a minute. You meet me here tomorrow'. He met with me the next day and said, `you're going to Lipscomb'. I told him I had no money and no chance of getting in. He brought me to Lipscomb and got me enrolled. My mother paid half of my tuition and I had to come up with the rest. And the rest is history."

What is your fondest athletic memory at Lipscomb?

"It would have to be a game I pitched against Middle Tennessee State in the spring of '52. I still have the ball from that game. We beat them 8-1 or 9-1.

"I pitched a two-hitter. MTSU had a good team.

"Johnny Hamblen walked to the mound in the fifth inning and said, `Hillin, do you know you have a no-hitter going on?' And I said, "don't you know you don't say anything about one of those things. The next batters singled right through the box, no kidding. I always blame Johnny for that. He didn't mean to do it. He just had a lapse of memory."

Who had the biggest influence on you during your athletic career at Lipscomb? How?

"It was Eugene `Fessor' Boyce. He was the intramurals coach and a general good guy. He was a wonderful man. He was always counseling and always teaching God's message. He was a wonderful inspiration.

"Bob Mason was the biggest influence.

"John Henderson would be another one. We became close friends and ran around together. We worked at two or three jobs together.

"I also have to add Brother Batsell Baxter. He loved to talk baseball. He knew I was a baseball player and was gone a lot. He was just a good guy. I have to say he was an early influence on me."

What is your fondest non-athletic memory from your time at Lipscomb

"My association with so many Christian people at Lipscomb, the chapel services, the good people that staffed Lipscomb and the mission of Lipscomb. I didn't meet her at Lipscomb, but I met my wife, Mary Frances, because I prepared for a teaching career and met her through teaching."

What is the most valuable thing you gained or learned from your time at Lipscomb?

"I am not claiming that I am a perfect Christian, but Lipscomb certainly strengthened my Christian beliefs along with my belief in the Golden Rule and that living right and accepting God and his principles were the things that were important."

Who was your favorite professor? Why?

"My favorite professor was Dr. Morris P. Landis. He taught English. He taught me a love for English literature, particularly Shakespeare, that has followed me all of my life. I thought he was a wonderful teacher. He loved English. He was a grammarian. He caused me to change my minor to English."

Where do you live now?

"I live in Brentwood, Tennessee."

Who is your employer? What is your occupation? What does your position entail?

"I was formerly with the FBI for 26 years and was also sheriff of Davidson County.

"I have a book in the computer right now about Nashville politics and the machine that ran Nashville for so long. I think it is going to be better than the Tennpar book."

Tell us about your family.

"All four of my children attended Lipscomb at one time or another in both high school and college. Jim, the oldest, graduated in accounting and business. Tim graduated in accounting and became a financial planner and is in the bond business. Rachel (Wesch) graduated in sociology and is a dedicated housewife. Ted is deceased.

"My wife is Mary Frances. We have been married for 62 years. If I have accomplished anything in my life it was picking out the right woman."

 My email is hankhillin@yahoo.com.