Warning: this article has some serious baseball feels.
Tom “Hammy” Hamilton is a staple for Cleveland baseball fans. If you do not know who he is than you clicked the right link. Hammy is THE voice of the Cleveland Indians and the literal heartbeat of Jacobs’ (or Progressive) Field. Since 1990, Hammy has added an element to the game that no other team has, flawlessly voicing every inch of emotion through the airwaves just as if he was one of us. When his voice quivers with unexpected shock that Eddie Murray‘s 3,000th hit made it through the gap I can tell you my heart melts, or with every Jim Thome bomb that left the park Hammy’s call would echo in the type of happiness that is only contained because it’s a press box rule not to cheer out loud. He is every fan’s fix in the off-season and the first thing we listen for on Opening Day.
I took an informal survey, asking many fans across twitter, at my favorite bar and other people who happened to cross my path to name their favorite Hammy calls. Therefore, without further ramblings, it is my pleasure to name off the top ten Hammy calls. Enjoy, and get ready to miss baseball more than ever.
10. Phantom Squeeze
This one is interesting. In what seemed to be a foul tipped ball off Omar Vizquel‘s bat was an invite to steal home for Marquis Grissom due to the ball grazing off the catcher’s glove. A squeeze play that didn’t work but ended up working. Hammy seemed to emote the same confused excitement that the fans felt. But, a win is a win and a lesson was learned that day to always practice the suicide squeeze bunt.
9. Lonnie Salami
On July 13th, 2013 there was a blacked out game in Cleveland. The Tribe was decked out, head-to-toe in dark blue, throwback uniforms and, then third baseman, Lonnie Chisenhall stepped in. Bases loaded. Two outs. And one beautiful swing. “Lonnie Chisenhall has broken it open!” grand-slamming it into the visitor’s bullpen. A single snippet of that amazing 2013 season.
8. Ramirez vs Eckersley “Wow”
Manny Ramirez doing what he’s always done best: shocking those who watch him play. Even Dennis Eckersley couldn’t believe that in the kid’s first at bat against him, Ramirez bombed it. Leaving Eckersley on the mound, mouthing a single word. “Wow”
7. Fifty Home Runs! Fifty Doubles!
Pure. Amazing. Unbelievableness. Albert Belle collected his 50th home run September 30th, 1995 and Cleveland continued to dominate baseball in a way we haven’t seen since. What’s almost as amazing as Belle hitting that homer is the crowd at the ball park. This needs to be a thing again. (We’re coming for you 2016).
6. Travis Hafner Grand Slam 2011
Like the Giambi hit, everyone knows this one off the top of their heads. Like Hafner, we all knew the second the ball left his bat it was beyond gone. The swing was perfect. The celebration was perfect. The home plate mobbing was perfect. End of story.
5. The 2001 Cleveland Comeback
This particular call is why I believe that anything is possible. It is the fire behind my optimism. The Tribe were down 12 runs in the 7th inning. Seems like all is lost? No! In a mix of miracles, the Indians did the impossible and the Angels in the Outfield music echoed as Hammy yelled, “The Indians down 12 in the seventh have completed the miracle!” and all was right in the world.
4. Tribe 95 “You Will Have an October to Remember!”
The Indians clinched the pennant on September 8th, 1995 by beating the Seattle Mariners and Cleveland lost its mind. The words “you will have an October to remember” were not only imprinted into the minds of fans, but gave them a level of hope you could only find on the corner of Carnegie and Ontario.
3. That Will Need TWO Tape Measures!
Thome calls are a creature all their own. Any of them will give tribe fans the chills and this one is no different. On July 3rd, 1999 he went yard and then some, knocking out the longest home run in Cleveland Indians history. Get your tape measures out boys and girls.
2. Jason Giambi vs The White Sox: Part Two
Just by hearing the count, fans will know exactly what call this is and where they were when it happened. Giambi Against the World. His second walk-off homer off the Chicago White Sox that season (2013) and the hit that started a historical 10 game win streak. It gave this city hope and they held on with a death grip.
1. “It Is Gone!!!!!!”
The number one legit Hammy call that everyone waits to hear. Those three words (along with “BALL GAME!”) will give anyone listening all the feels of being at a ball game even in the middle of winter. With a simple phrase, it throws fans into an emotional loop, and it’s the best.
Some might not agree with the list for one reason or another, but even if a favorite isn’t up there I now have you thinking about Indians baseball. So now your heart is getting excited, and you’re probably looking up a missed favorite or replaying the ones noted above right now with a crooked smile of anticipation. And, you’re not alone.
One of my favorites did not cut it, yet still has the biggest affect on me when it is played. Jack Hannahan, former Indians third baseman, hit a game tying home run to center. The happiness builds through the radio. Something obviously is about to happen. Before Hammy can even yell, “Gone!” the fans lose their minds in a way that only hope can ignite. It’s a moment in time that tribe fans all over can understand. That one play, ringing out by one man who brings us all together. Muting our TVs and blasting the radios, comfortable with the eight-second delay between the two medias.
Tom Hamilton is a core piece of a culture that Cleveland has imprinted on. Just by saying “and we’re underway at the corner of Carnegie and Ontario” an entire city breathes a sigh of relief that all is right in the world, yet again.
There are so many more amazing calls from over the years. Way more than just ten! Let me know the other favorites and others I missed that can help get fans through the off-season. So long everybody!