What a Week for Billy Hamilton


Rob Leifheit-USA TODAY Sports

Okay, this has zero to do with Billy Hamilton’s offense. It’s all about his speed. And sure, it’s only been a week, but what a week. Four games, four steals, three runs scored, a 3-1 record in games where Hamilton has entered as a pinch runner.

Vaguely reminds me of a player from the mid-70’s named Herb Washington. Washington had one job as a member of the ‘74-’75 Oakland A’s: pinch running. He never had an at-bat. Never took a defensive position. The only outs he ever recorded were when he was cut down trying to steal a base.

In fact, Washington’s 1975 Topps card displays as his position: “Pinch Run.”. Had that card.

But that’s where any comparison between Hamilton and Washington should end.

Washington was signed as a free agent after he attended Michigan State University on a track scholarship. This was after producing a successful prep track career while attending high school in Flint, Michigan. Washington also once held the world record for the 60 yard dash. He would continue his track a career once the A’s released him in early May of ‘75.

Hamilton was the Reds’ 2nd round selection in 2009 out of Taylorsville High School. That one sentence tells you all you need to differentiate Hamilton from Washington. Hamilton was to play baseball based on his overall abilities and not, as could be the way of Charlie Finley, as a novelty as appears to be the case with Washington.

Speaking of teams from the mid-70’s…

Here we sit on a Sunday waiting for a nationally televised game against the once-hated Los Angeles Dodgers. Some of us still have a severe dislike for those in blue, and I’m not referring to the umps either. As was noted by Jeremy Warnemuende, the Reds and Dodgers once “formed one of the NL’s most heated rivalries”.

In my mind I can still see Norm Charlton rounding third and then flooring Mike Scioscia.

Back to the task here…

I know I’m not the only in this boat, but I offer a hearty apology to Billy Hamilton. Thought a September callup wasn’t in the making. Didn’t think the organization would “start the clock” on him. Didn’t think he could contribute with the sole purpose of pinch running. I mean, relive Dave Roberts and to an even lesser degree, Billy Bates (Reds fans certainly recall 1990), but the fact you know maybe two players that have made an impact due to speed tells you everything.

Our own Zach Haile thought otherwise…and those in my boat thought he was crazy.

After a week, looks like we were the crazies.

Hamilton’s raw speed and ability to steal bases has sparked this team and fanbase. When you get #1 off Yadier Molina, you have accomplished something. What will be intriguing is the spot Hamilton takes on the Reds postseason roster. He is eligible because he replaced an injured player.

For now, I’ll keep adding a little extra sea salt to this crow.