The year was 1994. Baseball was approaching a player strike but as a Kansas City Royals fan there seemed to be a lot to look forward to. Yes, George Brett had hung up his cleats the year before but the future was bright. We had “The Hammer”, Bob Hamelin.
As a collegian, Hamelin had spurned an offer to play football at Notre Dame, and went to UCLA instead to play baseball. The Royals drafted him in the second round, and it seemed choosing to play baseball was paying off.
After a string of injuries slowed down his arrival to the Major Leagues, The Hammer had burst onto the scene in Kansas City, and the home run power we had all heard about was for real.
Bob excited Royals fans by breaking Bo Jackson‘s rookie home run record, and was chosen American League Rookie of the Year.
For Hamelin and the Royals, that rookie season was the highlight. The next year Bob managed only seven home runs, and after only nine round trippers in 1995. Hamelin’s time in Kansas City was over.
After a 18 home run year for the Tigers, and a one year stint with the Brewers, Hamelin found himself playing for Toledo in 1999. A ground out mid game was the end. Hamelin walked back to the dugout and quit. What had started out with so much promise was over.
After his playing career abruptly ended Bob worked in the construction industry, owning his own company, but eventually he did find his way back into baseball. After attending scout school, he has worked as a scout for the Washington Nationals, Toronto Blue Jays, and Boston Red Sox.
Now 46 years old, Hamelin has two sons, and spends most of his scouting activities on the east coast concentrating in the Carolina region. Asked once what his greatest memory was he said, “I remember a homer I hit against Chicago in 1994 during our 14-game winning streak. I think it came in extra innings.” For the record it was a three-run bomb in the 12th inning of a 6-4 KC win.
I remember that hit as well. I was there. It happens to be one of my favorite Royals memories just because I saw it live. I wonder from time to time what might have been if “The Hammer” could have remained healthy.
On a humorous note Hamelin has won the unofficial award for having the worst baseball card ever produced.
Hey, at least he made it onto a card, right?