Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Jeff Hamilton

Former Los Angeles Dodgers' General Manager Fred Claire was much maligned for his player personnel moves.

And with good reason.

Claire was responsible for signing outfielder Darryl Strawberry, a monumental free agent bust, to a multi-year, multi-million dollar contract back in 1991.

He is also the genius who traded 22-year old right-hander Pedro Martinez, a future three-time Cy Young Award winner, to the Montreal Expos for Delino DeShields, an injury-prone second baseman, prior to the 1994 season.

However, Claire's worst move as the Dodger GM is probably one that he chose not to make.

During the winter of 1989, the Pittsburgh Pirates were shopping a talented, but under-achieving 24-year old outfielder by the name of Barry Bonds.

Yep, Bonds was on the market!

In return, the Pirates reportedly were seeking Dodger third baseman Jeffrey Robert Hamilton and a pitcher, either Tim Belcher or John Wetteland.

But, Claire was not willing to pull the trigger on this deal.


Now, don't get me wrong, Belcher and Wetteland turned out to have solid pitching careers. But, they were clearly expendable. They would be peddled to the Cincinnati Reds a couple of years later.


He didn't have a particularly noteworthy career.

A native of Flint, Michigan, Hamilton was born on March 19, 1964. He was originally chosen by Los Angeles in the 29th round of the 1982 amateur draft. He played in the big leagues for a total of six seasons, all with the Dodgers. His best year was 1989, when he batted .245 with 12 home runs and 56 RBI.

In fact, Hamilton will likely be remembered for what he did on the mound rather than for what he did manning the hot corner or at the plate.

On June 3, 1989, Hamilton pitched in a 22-inning game against the Houston Astros, and took the loss. He thus became the first position player to get a decision in a major league game since Rocky Colavito on August 25, 1968.

Yet, Claire somehow concluded that Pittsburgh was asking for too much.

Boy, was he wrong!

And, incredibily, Claire is never criticized for failing to make this trade.


At 3:18 PM, Blogger bigcpa said...

Never heard the Bonds rumor... what's the source for that? I imagine it wasn't in Fred Claire's book.

At 11:22 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'll always remember Jeff Hamilton striking out Ken Caminiti in that 22 inning game...

At 11:30 PM, Blogger izman1999 said...

Below is the full text of the Los Angeles Times article from 12/22/1989:

General Manager Larry Doughty has denied the Pittsburgh Pirates are about to deal left fielder Barry Bonds to the Dodgers for third baseman Jeff Hamilton and pitcher John Wetteland.

Doughty talked to Dodgers General Manager Fred Claire on Wednesday, but no deal was worked out.

"Fred Claire and I resolved that we didn't have a deal but that we would leave the lines open into spring training," Doughty said.

Wetteland, 23, was 5-8 with a 3.77 earned run average as a rookie last season.

"I really got the feeling that Fred Claire was not going to move one of his established pitchers," Doughty said.

If the Dodgers acquire Bonds, they would probably play him in center field, where he began his major league career. He moved to left field in 1987, when the Pirates acquired center fielder Andy Van Slyke from St. Louis.

The Pirates are interested in Hamilton so they can move third baseman Bobby Bonilla to right field.

The Dodgers' need for another outfielder lessened Thursday when they signed free-agent Hubie Brooks to a three-year, $6-million contract.

Claire said Brooks would play right field and that 1988 National League Most Valuable Player Kirk Gibson and Kal Daniels would play left field.

Gibson missed most of last season with a torn left hamstring that required surgery.

There was another article that stated Belcher would be part of this deal, but I could not locate it tonight. Perhaps it was a Daily News article...

At 11:36 PM, Blogger izman1999 said...

I remember falling asleep watching the Astros-Dodger game around the eighth inning. When I woke up hours later, they were still playing!

I thought I was still dreaming when I saw Hamilton on the mound and Fernando in the outfield.

At 6:05 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jeff Hamilton had wicked movement on that fastball. In fact, a couple of years later when he realized he probably wasn't going to cut it as an everyday hitter, he contemplated making a move to the mound.


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