Many Cincinnati Reds fans were excited at the beginning of the year about the fleet-footed Billy Hamilton and his addition to the roster.
However, I bet most of them could have not predicted the impact he has had on the team.
Everyone knew he was a speed demon and a huge base stealing threat. However, you have to get on base to be able to steal and get in scoring position.
After a rough start to the season – the first three weeks had people wondering if he was ready to be on the major league roster – Hamilton has been a wonderful surprise.
Not only is he stealing bases and scoring runs from his leadoff position, but as of Friday he had 37 RBIs, had hit five home runs, 18 doubles and six triples. No one knew the slender Mississippi native had this much power. His slugging percentage is .400.
Then there is his defense in center field. Hamilton has looked great, not only running down long fly balls, making diving catches, but also throwing out runners. He leads the Reds outfielders in assists.
He has helped the Reds resurgence as they have climbed back up in to the Central Division race in the National League.
Hamilton, only 23, is batting .301 since his slow start, lifting his season average to .279. He took the spot by the departed Shin-Soo Choo who left as a free agent in the off season.
And the 6-foot-0, 160-pounds Hamilton has been much more than the singles and bunt hitter many expected him to be. He has walked 16 times, which turns into a chance for him to steal second and even third base.
As he leads off base he makes pitchers, catchers and the opposing managers nervous because they know he is a threat to run.
Hamilton stole a professional record 155 bases in the minor leagues, turning heads as he flew around the base paths at lightning speed. He has 35 steals this season, but he has been caught a few times. But, as he gains experience those numbers will get better and eventually he should lead the league in this category.
Along with his defensive contributions – he leads Reds outfielders in assists – Hamilton has quickly developed into a multi-dimensional player capable of impacting the game in a variety of ways.
Hamilton tweaked his hamstring on Wednesday night against Chicago and he has had a couple of minor injuries this season. Reds fans hope he can stay healthy and help lead the team to the playoffs as the second season begins after the All-Star break on Tuesday of this week.
One thing is for sure, Hamilton has brought a lot of excitement to the game.
Reds fans hope he has many more years ahead of him and that his exceptional speed will pay dividends for Cincinnati.
The Mingo Central High School - Marshall University volleyball camp scheduled for July 14th and 15th has been canceled, according to MCHS coach Jan Cisco. If any student athlete has already paid their fee it will be refunded. Cisco encourages players to attend a camp at Marshall on July 21st and 22nd in Huntington. More info on that camp can be found on-line.
… All boys grades 9-12 interested in playing football this year at Belfry High School are to report for practice on Monday, July 21st, at 6:00 p.m. at the Athletic Complex. There will be an important meeting for parents on Thursday, July 17th at 7:00 p.m. in the BHS auditorium. Equipment will be issued on Thursday, July 17th as follows: 6:00 p.m. for seniors, 6:20 p.m. for juniors, 6:40 p.m. for sophomores and 7:00 p.m. for freshmen.
… The Mingo County Commission (MCC) is planning a double elimination girls basketball tournament at the former Williamson High School Gym Aug 1-3, and all proceeds will go to Crossroads Recovery. Ages will be 9-10, 11-12, 13-14, 15-16, 17-& up entry fee of $100 if paid by July 25 and after July 25 $125, for more information you may contact Rick Wilkerson, Recreational Coordinator by phone 304-235-3892 or by email @ email@example.com.
The MCC is also holding 3 on 3 tourneys for boys and girls on July 25-26. The age groups are 10-11, 12-13, 14-15, 16-18 and 18-years and up. The fee is $75 per team. You can also contact Wilkerson for this tourney. All proceeds will go to the Harry L. Joyce Center.
… Due to some health issues, Buster Douglas was not able to make the charitable event Saturday held in Matewan to benefit young Phillip Hurley. His coach John Johnson, a Red Jacket native, and Douglas apologized. They are sending some boxing gloves to auction off and hope to make it down to Mingo County soon.
(Kyle Lovern is the Sports Editor for the Williamson Daily News. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 304-235-4242, ext. 33 or Twitter @KyleLovern)