Tuesday, January 31, 2017

#342 Atlee Hammaker San Francisco Giants

A lot of orange on this card as Atlee Hammaker appears here on his first solo card after sharing a three player card in the '82 set when he was still with the Royals.

Player:  Hammaker was a first round pick of the Royals in '79 and made his MLB debut two years later.  The young lanky lefty allowed 24 runs in 39 innings and was traded the following spring to the Giants in the Vida Blue trade.

Hammaker didn't start the year with San Fran but entered the Giants rotation in May and had an up and down season, finishing with a 4.11 ERA in 27 starts.

Everything was peachy as the '83 season started.  He had a 1.70 ERA at the All-Star break but was bearing the burden few knew about; his shoulder was killing him.  Specifically his rotator cuff. Despite the pain he went to the All-Star game where there was little margin for error.  He allowed seven runs in just 0.2 innings including a grand slam to Fred Lynn, the first in All-Star history. Although his injury limited him to just eight starts the rest of the year, he won the NL ERA title with a nifty 2.25 mark and had the lowest WHIP and BB/9 in the majors.

The surgery recovery and bone spurs limited him to six starts in '84.  Hammaker made 29 starts in '85 but the Giants were pretty awful and he won just five games despite a league average performance.  

The '86 season was a wash as he missed the entire season with a shoulder injury and surgery to both knees.  He was fairly effective when he came back with ERAs between 3.58 - 3.76 over the next three years as he bounced from the rotation to the pen.

Hammaker's ERA rose over four in '90 and the Giants cut him loose in August.  He signed on with the Padres and pitched briefly for them at the end of '90 and one game in '91.  He sat out the '92 and '93 seasons recovering from Tommy John surgery.  

By the time '94 rolled around many had forgotten about the lefty, but Hammaker returned to the majors with the White Sox after some success with their AAA team.  Two scoreless outings in relief meant things were looking up.  The success helped land him a job in the Pale Hose pen in '95 as a lefty specialist but it didn't work out as he allowed nine runs in 6.1 innings.  Hammaker was released and retired from the game.

Flipside:  Three complete games within four weeks in the 1982 highlights!  This was actually was part of a stretch of 52.2 innings over six games.  At that point his arm fell off and the Giants trainers held it together the best they could with duct tape.  I joke, but of course it's hard to say if the workload did him in or not. but he wouldn't see that workload today.

Oddball:  Hammaker warned his five daughters not to date ballplayers but at least one didn't listen and married the Indians Yan Gomes anyway.

History:  Hammaker, whose mother is Japanese, was one of the first Asian-American players in the majors following Mike Lum and Lenn Sakata.  His career was derailed by injuries and unfortunately he is remembered by some for his All-Star game and postseason failures.  In the early 80's Hammaker's future looked bright but he is on a long list of player's who were let down by their health.

1 comment:

  1. Didn't realize how long he hung in there into the 90's...