Where Are They Now? Jeffrey Hammonds
Over a major league career that spanned 13 seasons, Jeffrey Hammonds hit three home runs in one game and was an all-star for the Rockies in 2000, when he hit .335 with 20 home runs and 106 RBIs.
Yet none of those highlights stands out for him quite like the relationships he forged while playing the game, and that he continues to build today as a special assistant for player services for the Major League Baseball Players Association.
“The game was good to me, but the Eric Davises and the Charles Johnsons, those guys to me were everything,” Hammonds said. “We connected in ways off the field, we all had a common goal to be great, and we still have a common goal to be great. The fraternity of Major League Baseball, it’s like nothing else.”
Coming out of high school in Scotch Plains, N.J., Hammonds fell to the ninth round of the 1989 draft. His parents’ desire for him to attend college took precedent over the pro game, and Hammonds ultimately selected Stanford over Duke and Notre Dame.
Hammonds then led Stanford to a pair of College World Series appearances and emerged as the top prospect in the 1992 draft. His demands of a $1.8 million bonus scared off the Astros, Indians and Expos before the Orioles selected him with the fourth pick.
While negotiating a signing bonus, Hammonds was off to play for the U.S. Olympic team in Barcelona. Finally, in July, he signed for $925,000, the largest bonus in that year’s draft and the highest ever given—to that point—to a college player.
One summer later and Hammonds was in the big leagues when he was felled by a pinched nerve, then a neck injury. The injuries proved to be a portent of things to come for the talented outfielder.
In the end, Hammonds spent an inordinate number of days on the disabled list. After college injuries to his knee and wrist, Hammonds had to deal with injuries as a major leaguer to his neck, knee, back, shoulder, ankle, hamstring and wrist.
Hammonds managed to exceed 400 at-bats just twice, the best season of which was 2000, when he finished fourth in the National League in hitting behind Colorado teammate Todd Helton, Moises Alou and Vladimir Guerrero.
Despite the numerous injury setbacks, Hammonds still hit .272/.338/.449 in a career that generally fell short of considerable expectations and spanned 1993 to 2005 with the Orioles, Reds, Rockies, Brewers, Giants and Nationals.
Hammonds, though, takes heart in having played in 957 big league games.
“I was good at baseball all my life,” Hammonds said. “I’m very thankful for that, whether it was Little League or high school or college or the Olympics or the major leagues or having an opportunity to work with the Players Association.
“Baseball is in my blood. I’m very, very, very fortunate and I’m very, very, very thankful. I use that word ‘very’ multiple times because I’m appreciative for the life I have lived.”