Dec 5, 2012

2000 N.L. Champion Mets Utility Player: Darryl Hamilton (1999-2001)

Darryl Quinn Hamilton was born on December 3, 1964 in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. The six foot, left handed hitting, right handed throwing Hamilton was signed out of Nicholls State University, by the Milwaukee Brewers in 1986.

Hamilton was known as an exceptional defensive outfielder with speed & a strong throwing arm. He began in the Rookie League and almost hit .400 getting promoted to A ball where he hit .328 at Stockton in 1987. In 1988 he then hit .325 at AAA Denver in 1988.

He made brief appearances with the Brewers over the next two years & by 1991 he was a Brewers everyday player. This was at the Brewers post Paul Molitor era & the point where Robin Yount was winding down his career. In 1991, his first full season, Hamilton would bat .311 with 57 RBIs & 16 stolen bases, making a big impact in the Brewer line up.

In 1992 he stole 41 bases (9th in the AL) with seven triples (7th in the AL) batting .298 with 5 HRs & a career high 62 RBIs. He was a god contact hitter, batting over .290 six times in his career, with four .300 plus seasons. In the outfield he led the league in fielding percentage four different times, as well as put outs once.

After spending seven years in Milwaukee (1988-1995) he signed a one year deal with the Texas Rangers in 1996. That year he hit.293 with 29 doubles 15 stolen bases 6 HRs & 51 RBIs. He moved on to the San Francisco Giants (1997-1998) & Colorado Rockies (1998-1999) where he hit over .300 as a reserve player.

Trivia: On June 12, 1997 got the first official hit in regular season inter-league game history. Hamilton singled off the Texas Rangers Darrin Oliver to lead off the game at Candlestick Park in San Francisco. In August of 1999 he was traded to the New York Mets for Brian McRae.

In his first game with the Mets on August 1st he played center field & had a pair of hits with an RBI at Wrigley Field in Chicago. The next day he got two more hits going 2-4 in Milwaukee in a Mets 7-2 win over the Brewers. His hitting couldn’t be ignored as he found himself in the lineup more often than not. On August 30th he had a huge four ht day with a HR & three RBIs in the Mets 17-1 win at Houston against the Astros.

On September 5th Hamilton hit a grand slam HR at Shea Stadium in six run 5th inning as the Mets went on to a 6-2 victory. He hit safely in 20 of his first 27 games as New York Met, and would lead all NL centerfielders in fielding % (.1000). He made no errors in 102 chances with two assists in centerfield.

In only two months in New York he batted .339 with a .419 on base %, 5 HRs 19 walks 19 runs scored & 21 RBIs. On October 2nd he doubled in the fourth inning off the Pirates Kris Benson tying the game the Mets went on to win in the bottom of the 9th inning. The win tied them with the Cincinnati Reds to force a one game playoff for the wild card title. In that game Hamilton went 1-4 with a walk.

Post Season: Hamilton got into four games of the NLDS against the Arizona Diamondbacks. In Game #3 of the NLDS, he came in as a pinch hitter in the 5th inning & remained in the game. In his second at bat drove in two runs with a base hit off Arizona’s Dan Pleasac in the Mets 9-2 victory. It was the only hit he had in the series going 1-8 (.125).

He had a much better NLCS, batting .353 getting six hits in 17 at bats against the Atlanta Braves. Hamilton got two hits in the 15 inning Game #5 win, where Robin Ventura hit the famous grand slam single. He got the start & then had a three hit night in Game #6 at Atlanta, driving in two runs. His 5th inning single off Kevin Milwood brought the Mets within two runs of the Braves. Although they would tie it, they lost & were eliminated in the 11th inning.

On Opening Day 2000 in a game played at the Tokyo Dome in Japan, Hamilton was the Mets starting centerfielder. He drove in a run with a 3rd inning sac fly against the Chicago Cubs. On April 7th 2000 Hamilton sprained his foot & was lost until early August. By that time Jay Payton had taken over the centerfield job & New York was one of the NL's best teams.

He returned on August 9th and hit a two run pinch hit HR in Houston in the Mets 12-5 win over the Astros. Although he began the month with a .188 average he brought it up to .224 by August 31st. He would draw eleven walks in 17 games that month, putting a in good on base %.

In September he hit well enough to raise his average fifty points. As a pinch hitter he was 3-6 in pinch hit appearances. On September 27th his base hit off the Braves Kevin Millwood, broke a 1-1 tie in the 5th inning. Mets went on to a 6-2 win. For the Mets 2000 NL Championship season he hit .276 with 29 hits & 14 walks posting a .358 on base % Hamilton hit one HR & drove in six runs.

Post Season: In the 2000 NLDS against the San Francisco Giants, Hamilton went 2-3 as a pinch hitter, batting .500 overall (2-4). In Game #2 at Pac Bell Park, Hamilton had a huge pinch hit base hit in the top of the 10th inning. With the game tied at 4-4 he doubled off Giants pitcher Felix Rodriguez. Jay Payton followed with a basehit, scoring Hamilton with what was the games winning run. He would have seven more pinch hit appearances through the post season, going 0-5.

In 2001 the 36 year old Hamilton lost more time to injuries, and would only bat. 214 in 52 games, retiring at the end of the season. He finished his 13 year career with a .291 batting average, 1333 hits 163 stolen bases, 204 doubles, 51 HRs 454 RBIs & a .360 on base percentage. His .995 fielding % ranks him as one of the best all time in the outfield.

Retirement: After his playing days he worked for MLB radio as a color analyst. In 2006 he went to work for Major League Baseball Commissioner's Office of On-Field Operations, reporting to Vice President Bob Watson.

In 2012 he began working a number of games as an analyst for the Los Angles Angels of Anaheim.

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