Jeffrey Hammonds, SPF Alumni reflects on his professional baseball career

by Derek Offitzer
Jeffrey Hammonds, ’89, played professional baseball for 12 seasons after graduating from Stanford University. Hammonds’s career included an All-Star Game appearance in 2000 as a member of the Colorado Rockies, one of the six teams he played for. Hammonds retired on June 10, 2005 while rehabilitating from a hamstring injury, finishing his career with a .272 batting average and 110 home runs.
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When did you realize how skilled you were at baseball?
I had two older athletic brothers, both SPFHS graduates, and I was always trying to keep up, which was very difficult. Playing with my peers was a much easier task. Gym class is also a  great barometer of how you stack up athletically.
Did you enjoy playing for the high school?
I loved it, especially football. We played  perennial beasts: Union, Elizabeth, Linden, Westfield, Summit–and we held our own.
Soccer stays winning. All the sports had to keep up with what they did and still do. It seemed like they played for a state championship every year. Baseball and basketball were very competitive as well.
I have been keeping up with the Raiders from afar. James D’Angelo, congrats on your decision to play in the Bronx. You’ll be fine, SPF breeds well-rounded and level-headed scholar-athletes.
The athletic director, Ryan Miller, is doing great things, and SPFHS is blessed to have him as leader.
After getting drafted out of high school by the Blue Jays, you decided to attend Stanford instead. What influenced that decision?
I wanted to go to college. Our community geared us for secondary education. My family all attended college and all of my friends were going as well. I wanted the experience. The real question was, “Do I really want to go that far from home?” Rutgers, University of Miami, University of Michigan, Princeton, Notre Dame, Duke and University of North Carolina were the other options.  They all are incredible learning institutions, but Stanford had the coach I wanted to play for. I challenged myself to finish up at Stanford. God bless, that worked out!
What professional team were you happiest on?
All of them, because they all had a different storyline and their own lessons. Baltimore was my first team; you never forget your first. Cincinnati is where I met my wife. Colorado is where I was named an All Star. Milwaukee was full of challenges but great life lessons. One lesson was to stay level-headed.  In San Francisco I played with the best ever–Bonds. Washington became strenuous.
What is life like in the majors? What was the most strenuous part of playing? 
It was a dream come true. Nothing in life worth having comes easy, that includes all the judgment that goes with it because it is part of the territory. You can’t control anything but your effort and preparation. Injuries are the hardest part to overcome, both physically and mentally.  That is why you have to set goals! You don’t lose sight of your optimal result. When it became strenuous it was time to hang ’em up and retire from playing. Fortunately, I had achieved almost everything I set out to do when I left high school.
Has baseball always been a part of your life?
Yes, definitely.  I grew up watching Phil Rizzuto and Bill White from the Yankees and Ralph Kiner from the Mets. I will always follow our hometown teams. This year I will be rooting for CC [Sabathia] and Jeter, but I will be watching the Braves and their dynamic outfield.
What are you doing now?
Living. I am blessed to have all of  my loved ones healthy.  I was fortunate to live my dream of playing ball. I am helping where needed, and I still have a passion for the game of baseball.
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