Thursday, January 23, 2014

#633 - Dave Hamilton

I know Dave Hamilton is only chewing on a wad of chaw in this photo but from that expression on his face it appears he may have also been recently engaging another substance. That may explain why he appears to be at about a 45 degree angle with the field behind him. On the plus side Dave breaks a recent string of final cards with his second one for Topps. Dave was in the midst of his first run in Oakland during which he was generally the fifth/spot starter in a pretty loaded rotation. It was a good time to be in that position since in each of his first three seasons Dave’s team won the Series. ‘73 was a bit of a streaky season for Dave. He began the year back in Triple A and had a nice enough run in the rotation to return to Oakland in early June. After a couple sloppy early starts he went on a nice run and by the end of the month was 5-1 with a 2.85 ERA. But July brought three straight bad starts and by mid-August, after being moved to the pen, he was back in the minors. He returned for a couple late games in September but then got shut out of any Series action. Dave tended to be a streaky guy which was part of what delayed his ascension to the MLB level. Here he looks like he needs to get out of the sun in Oakland.

Dave Hamilton grew up in Edmonds, Washington, where he played hoops and baseball. In the latter sport his senior year in high school he went 8-0 with a 1.19 ERA and fanned 114 batters in his 59 innings. Those stats helped make him a fifth-round choice by Kansas City in the ’66 draft. That year in A ball his ERA was a bit high but he got lots of strikeouts. The next year he began his military reserve work, missing a bunch of games, but got his ERA down a bit when he was able to play, keeping the K’s above one an inning. He then split ’68 between two teams at that level, again in the rotation, where he had odd experiences. At his first stop he went 3-5 as his ERA climbed again; at his second he pitched much better ball, lowering his ERA by nearly two runs, but somehow went 0-7. Things got a bit better at that level in ’69 and then more-so in his few starts in Double A so in ‘70 he finally stuck at a higher level as he spent that whole season in Double A. Then in ’71 he put together a nice season as a swing guy in Triple A before kicking off the ’72 season with another excellent record in his eight starts at that level. Late that May he was promoted to Oakland.

In ’72 upon being called up, Hamilton walked smack into a division run and put up a win in his first start. By the end of June he was 5-1 with a 1.30 ERA and got everyone thinking of Vida Blue’s run when he first came up a couple years earlier. July and early August were a bit tougher though and by the middle of the latter month he was in the pen where his numbers got a bit better and he added a save. His post-season numbers weren’t too hot though and in ’73 he pretty much ran the same way, though the ERA was considerably higher. In ’74 he got a few spare innings in the pen until he returned to the rotation in mid-May and went on another of his runs, closing June with a 5-1 record and 2.82 ERA. So far his MLB records through June were 15-3. He then followed suit, cooling off a bit and working out of both the rotation and the pen. In neither that nor the former season did he see any post-season action. In ’75 the A’s weren’t as flexible and while Dave pitched well enough in his first thee starts, a couple mediocre ones moved him to the pen by May and in June he was sent to the White Sox with outfielder Chet Lemon for pitchers Stan Bahnsen and Skip Pitlock. There Dave started his first game but then was exclusively a reliever and finished the year 7-7 with a 3.25 ERA and six saves.

With Chicago Hamilton was a reliever nearly all the time and his first full season of ’76 closed most of his games, recording a record of 6-6 with a 3.59 ERA and ten saves. In ’77 he moved to more of a set-up role though his numbers stayed pretty much the same as he went 4-5 with a 3.61 ERA and nine saves. Following that season he and pitcher Silvio Martinez went to St. Louis for reliever Clay Carroll. Things didn’t go too well for Dave in that other league as he went a combined 0-2 with one save and a 4.46 ERA in only 40 innings of work. Following that season he returned to the AL and Oakland as a free agent and in ’79 was a spot guy and reliever as he went 3-4 with a 3.70 ERA and five saves for a pretty poor team. In ’80 some tough times up top got him moved to Triple A for most of the season where he did some OK work out of the pen. After putting in a few innings at that level in ’81 Dave was done. He finished with an MLB record of 39-41 with a 3.85 ERA, four complete games, a shutout, and 31 saves. In the post-season he put up a 27.00 ERA in his three games and was 53-48 in the minors.

Hamilton would settle full-time in the San Ramon area of California where he became a foreman for a roofing contractor company and beginning in ’96 the head baseball coach at that town’s California High School. He was still at that second role through at least 2007 and looks like he put up some pretty good records there.

That is the second or third “most inspirational player” award I have seen on the backs of these cards. My school didn’t have those back then. Maybe it was a more benign title for team mvp? I assume Dave was a guard.

11/17/73 – President Nixon, in a televised meeting with a bunch of Associated Press newspaper editors, discusses Watergate a bit among other subjects. During the speech he utters his famous “I am not a crook” line as he defends his record while in public service.

11/21/73 – By this time the process had begun in summarizing the White House tapes according to the original deal between the Senate Committee and the White House. In the meantime the Supreme Court was still reviewing whether or not to demand a full release of the tapes. On this date the White House reported that two of the specifically-requested tapes were missing. One of the tapes would turn out to be the one in which over 18 minutes of conversation between President Nixon and former White House Chief of Staff H.R. Haldeman. That tape was made three days after the Watergate break-in so it was widely believed that the deleted conversation must have included the break-in as a topic. It was this tape that Nixon’s personal secretary Rose Mary Woods said she must have inadvertently erased as she was transcribing the tapes.

Normally these cross-league hook-ups are tough but one guy helps out huge here:

1. Hamilton and Jesus Alou ’73 to ’74 A’s;
2. Alou and George Culver ’70 to ’72 Astros.

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