Hamilton Blazes To Stolen-Base Record





PENSACOLA, Fla.—True to his form, Billy Hamilton sped to history.

Hamilton, the 21-year-old captivating shortstop for the Double-A Pensacola Blue Wahoos, wasted little time in the first game of a Tuesday night doubleheader to become baseball's greatest single-season basestealer.

Hamilton needed just two at-bats and three innings to produce the final three notches on a minor league baseball record previously held by Vince Coleman since 1983. Coleman stole 145 bases that season for the Macon (Ga.) Redbirds in the low Class A South Atlantic League.

Hamilton tied and eclipsed the record in three pitches, stealing second base and then third, following his two-out single in the third inning against Double-A Montgomery in a Southern League matchup of postseason hopeful teams.


He later followed with a fourth steal, his first four-game steal in Double-A.

"Thinking back when I was a little young guy, I never expected to be right here in this moment, and it feels good," said Hamilton, who grew up in Taylorsville, Miss., a rural town in the south central portion of the state with approximately 1,300 residents, before being selected by the Reds in the second round of the 2009 draft.

Hamilton credits his mother, Polly, for helping shape his life, and she was waiting with a hug between innings as Hamilton got ready to go back on the field after setting the mark.

"Oh man, it was emotional," he said. "I had to hold my tears in. She loves me and I love her."

At the request of Major League Baseball, both the tying and record-setting bases were removed after time was called.

A crowd of 4,154 at the team's bayfront stadium stood and cheered both his record-tying and record-breaking steals, and fans signed cardboard, commemorative on-deck circles with the stolen base numbers. Hamilton's shoes have been requested by the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y.

"It's a bunch of relief," Hamilton said. "Now, I feel a little better, like I can get on with my game and finish out the season strong. Now, I am more relaxed at the plate and more relaxed in the field."

Somewhere in San Diego, where he now resides, Vince Coleman was likely cheering for Hamilton to pass him.

"I am excited for this young man," Coleman, who has not seen Hamilton play, said previously. "From what I hear, he has all the dynamics that a basestealer should have.

"I'm excited because I can watch baseball again. I'll be honest, I have not watched many baseball (games) in the past years, because there are a lot of fundamentals that have not been stressed over the last 10 years."

Blue Wahoos manager Jim Riggleman, whose managerial career began in 1983 in the minor leagues when Coleman set the record, said he never thought anyone would eclipse it.

"You have to get on base to do it, you have to stay healthy to do it, and it is just freakish that anybody can get that kind of number," he said.

Bill Vilona is a sports columnist for the Pensacola News Journal

RARE COMPANY
Billy Hamilton steals bags so well that it's notable when he does get thrown out, here's a look at every caught stealing he's had this year
DATE TEAM PITCHER CATCHER
4/14/12 San Jose (Giants) Justin Schumer Andrew Susac
4/15/12 San Jose (Giants) Jose Valdez Alex Burg
4/15/12 San Jose (Giants) Jack Snodgrass* Andrew Susac
4/19/12 San Jose (Giants) Jose Valdez Alex Burg
4/27/12 Modesto (Rockies) Josh Slaats Bryce Massanari
4/29/12 Modesto (Rockies) Christian Bergman Dustin Garneau
5/3/12 Lancaster (Astros) R.J. Alaniz R. Garcia
5/14/12 Stockton (Athletics) Nathan Long Max Stassi
5/15/12 Stockton (Athletics) Jose Guzman Beau Taylor
5/19/12 Lake Elsinore (Padres) Jerry Sullivan Rocky Gale
5/24/12 San Jose (Giants) Justin Schumer Andrew Susac
5/30/12 San Jose (Giants) Hector Correa Andrew Susac
6/1/12 San Jose (Giants) Jack Snodgrass* Andrew Susac
6/9/12 Modesto (Rockies) Tyler Matzek* Dustin Garneau
6/12/12 Stockton (Athletics) Deivi Jimenez Beau Taylor
6/12/12 Stockton (Athletics) Nathan Long Beau Taylor
6/21/12 Rancho Cucamonga (Dodgers) Zach Lee Chris O'Brien
6/25/12 Visalia (Diamondbacks) Bradin Hagens Raywilly Gomez
6/26/12 Visalia (Diamondbacks) D.J. Johnson Raywilly Gomez
6/28/12 Modesto (Rockies) Kennil Gomez Dustin Garneau
6/29/12 Modesto (Rockies) Kraig Sitton* Dallas Tarleton
7/14/12 Jacksonville (Marlins) Bryan Evans Kyle Skipworth
7/19/12 Mobile (Diamondbacks) Kevin Munson Rossmel Perez
7/20/12 Mobile (Diamondbacks) Eury De la Rosa* Rossmel Perez
7/22/12 Mobile (Diamondbacks) Derek Eitel Rossmel Perez
8/4/12 Huntsville (Brewers) Ariel Pena Anderson De La Rosa
8/6/12 Huntsville (Brewers) Johnny Hellweg Anderson De La Rosa
8/9/12 Chatanooga (Dodgers) Aaron Miller* Matt Wallach
8/10/12 Chatanooga (Dodgers) Wes Roemer Gorman Erickson
8/11/12 Chatanooga (Dodgers) Zach Lee Matt Wallach
8/12/12 Chatanooga (Dodgers) Chris Reed* Gorman Erickson
8/14/12 Mobile (Diamondbacks) Derek Eitel Rossmel Perez
8/18/12 Mobile (Diamondbacks) Eury De la Rosa* Rossmel Perez
* denotes lefthanded pitcher
—compiled by J.J. Cooper and Conor Glassey


TOP 10 MINOR LEAGUE STOLEN BASE SEASONS
Player Year Team Age G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI SB CS BA OBP SLG
Billy Hamilton 2012

Bakersfield/

Pensacola

21 121 469 105 149 21 14 2 44 147 33 .318 .415 .435
Vince Coleman 1983 Macon 21 113 446 99 156 8 7 0 53 145 31 .350 .431 .399
Donnell Nixon 1983 Bakersfield 21 135 542 116 174 27 4 4 51 144 24 .321 .391 .408
James Johnston 1913 San Francisco 24 201 749 111 228 34 4 2   124   .304   .368
Jeff Stone 1981 Spartanburg 20 134 516 108 143 13 9 3 53 123 13 .277 .368 .355
Alan Wiggins 1980 Lodi 22 135 513 108 148 10 5 0 35 120 25 .288 .390 .327
Allan Lewis 1966 Leesburg 24 131 542 92 156 11 5 0 33 116   .288   .327
Ralph Myers 1912 Spokane 25 159 630 122 205 29 4 0   115   .326   .384
Ovid Nicholson 1912 Frankfort 23 123 506 128 178 23 8 4   111   .352   .453
Marcus Lawton 1985 Columbia 20 141 567 118 158 22 16 4 66 111 11 .279 .390 .395
Chris Morris 2001 Peoria 21 134 480 89 141 11 9 2 39 111 24 .294 .398 .367