Barring injury, Billy Hamilton should smash the 29-year-old record for stolen bases in a single professional baseball season in the next few weeks.
With 20 games left in the season, the Pensacola Blue Wahoos’ shortstop needs just seven steals to top Vince Coleman’s mark of 145, set in 1983.
Hamilton is hitting .288 in 31 games for the Blue Wahoos with an on-base percentage of .410, an inside-the-park homerun, 24 runs scored, 11 runs-batted-in, and 35 stolen bases. The 6-foot, 160-pound Hamilton started the season at Class A Bakersfield, where he hit .323 with a .413 on-base percentage, a homerun, 30 RBIs, 79 runs scored and 104 stolen bases in 82 games for the Blaze.
Dusty Baker, manager of the Blaze’s and Blue Wahoos’ parent club, the Cincinnati Reds, told the Chillicothe (Ohio) Gazette that Hamilton could be promoted to “the show” in September, when Major League Baseball teams are allowed to expand their rosters.
“Speed’s always an asset. Speed kills. I remember the Cardinals with Willie McGee, Vince Coleman and Ozzie (Smith). That was their slogan, speed kills.”
The Blue Wahoos’ star isn’t the only Billy Hamilton making a mark on the base paths. On Aug. 31, 1894, William Robert “Sliding Billy” Hamilton stole seven bases in a single game for the Philadelphia Phillies, tying the record set 13 years earlier by George Gore of the Chicago White Stockings.