A former Philadelphia Phillies pitching great and World Series hero was back in the area last week.
The Phils’ 2002 1st round MLB Amateur Draft pick, Cole Hamels
spent parts of 10 seasons in red pinstripes.
Hamels became the 2008 NLCS and World Series MVP, and a key member of the core group of players who built a quasi-dynasty, winners of five consecutive NL East crowns from 2007-11.
He was back in the area over the weekend, hosting clinics for youngsters on both Saturday and Sunday at the Maplezone Sports Institute in Garnet Valley.
The cost of the clinics for those falling in the 8-16 year age group was $300, and benefited his charity, the Hamels Foundation
While in the area to promote the event last week, Hamels was interviewed on local sports talk radio.
“We really try to break down how to throw properly, train the right way. We’ve got some good hitting coaches…basically just learning the fundamentals…kind of what we were able to be taught…to get us where we’re at and make it fun.”
Hamels was dealt away to the Texas Rangers at last season’s MLB trade deadline
along with lefty reliever Jake Diekman in exchange for a six-player/prospect package of pitchers Matt Harrison, Jerad Eickhoff, and Alec Asher, all of whom now have big league experience.
Hamels, who turned 33 years old at the end of December and is still guaranteed more than $70 million in salary over the next three seasons, believes that the Phillies are finally getting their rebuilding priorities situated properly.
The veteran lefty then addressed the fans and the youngsters coming up during the process, stating:
“There’s nothing better than playing in front of these fans. I know they’re going to go through a couple of hard years, but they’ll be back out, and sell out after sell out for years, and those guys are gonna reap the benefit, and the organization’s gonna do very well with that.”
When asked by Pommell about when he believes the team truly knew their window of contention had closed, Hamels somewhat set aside the generally accepted 2011 postseason injury to slugger Ryan Howard
Instead, he had another moment that he could point to, naming the injuries to Roy Halladay
involving the right-hander’s shoulder during 2012 and 2013 as providing that moment of clarity.
“When Roy went down, it was probably kinda the big spill, because we knew Howie was already down, but he was gonna come back. We still had a good core to kind of band-aid Ryan. But then when, now you lose Roy and Ryan? Now you’re gonna be in some trouble. It’s just a matter of time before we understand what the organization will do.”
Finally, Hamels took a look back at that magical 2008 campaign, and the importance of the World Series championship to the fans and the players on that team.
“You wanta have it to where people remember what we were able to do out on the baseball field. All of us still do talk from that year. For all of us, when I do see a lot of the guys now, we do all remember that, we do reminisce a little bit. It makes us feel a little bit more important, even though we’re not striving for it, but it makes us know that all that hard work we put in is paying off.”
Hamels and the rest of that homegrown core group, including Howard, Chase Utley
, Brett Myers
, Ryan Madson
, Carlos Ruiz
, and most of his other teammates from that period have earned a lasting place in the hearts of Phillies fans, a place that will be rewarded in reunions at Citizens Bank Park for decades to come.
For now, while he is still in his prime and still healthy, Hamels will prepare for the 2016 season, one in which he and his new Rangers’ teammates expect to contend for an American League pennant and a World Series berth. Meanwhile, that rebuild will continue here in Philly.