Baseball scouts have called him the fastest man in baseball. At any level. And we bet you’ve never heard of him unless die hard MLB fan or one of the Class-A Bakersfield Blaze. Billy Hamilton, 6-foot-1 160-pounder, prospect of the Cincinnati Reds came into Monday night with 98 stolen bases on 119 attempts in only 77 games. He finished the night stealing two bases to reach the 100th mark.
Quite impressive when you consider a quarter century has passed since Vince Coleman, the last man to eclipse the century mark in the bigs, stole 109 bases for the St. Louis Cardinals. And Hamilton is well ahead of Coleman’s record for the most stolen bases in a season at any level, 145, set in 1983 with the Class-A Macon Redbirds.
“If I ran a (40-yard-dash) time, it wouldn’t be as fast as how fast I run when I’m stealing a base,” said the Taylorsville, Miss., native, who spurned a football scholarship to Mississippi State to sign with the Cincinnati Reds in 2009. “I’m more of a game-situation guy.”
Hamilton led all professional baseball players in stolen bases last year with 103. This season, his 100 stolen bases are 45 more than anyone else, at any level of professional baseball.
To add to Hamilton’s lore he also shares the same name as former Boston Beaneaters Billy Hamilton who played in the 19th century, and sits third on the MLB list of all-time leaders in stolen bases behind the likes of Rickey Henderson (1,406), Lou Brock (938).
With hundreds of fans cheering and many urging him to stay, St. Louis Cardinals star Albert Pujols watched the unveiling of a 10-foot statue of himself and then said he wasn’t yet sure where he would wind up next season. Pujols stood near the 10-foot, 1,100-pound bronze likeness of himself outside his restaurant in Westport, Missoiri.
“Just like my wife says, we’re going to be praying about it and whenever the time comes we’ll make that decision,” Pujols said. “Hopefully I don’t have to make that decision,” Pujols said. “We’re just going to see where God takes us. I don’t want to get ahead of God’s plan and say `Oh, we’re going to be here,’ and then something happens and I look bad. Whether it’s here or wherever, I believe our foundation is going to help the city of St. Louis.”
Funds for the statue were provided by an anonymous donor two years ago. The sculpture has religious overtones depicting a familiar pose with Pujols raising his arms skyward while crossing home plate. It was made by Harry Weber and is similar to Weber’s work on Cardinals Hall of Famers outside Busch Stadium. One of the Hall of Famers, Lou Brock, attended the ceremony with his wife.
“There’s going to be a lot of people asking, `Well, why is he not swinging the bat?”‘ Pujols told the crowd during his speech. “That’s to remind me it’s not about me, but it’s about Jesus Christ who gave his life so we can have eternal life. It’s really easy to lose focus when you have millions of people telling you how great you are.”