Phillies blog

Reflecting on Cole Hamels' legacy with the Phillies … and how it's impacted us

NBC Universal, Inc.

Cole Hamels is officially retiring as a Phillie Friday night at Citizens Bank Park.

Spanning the first decade of his career with the organization, the left-handed pitcher is putting a bow on his legacy with the Phillies that will be remembered for years to come.

Hamels' impact was different for everyone but equally important.

Today, we collectively take a look back at a handful of those moments and memories throughout his career.

Brooke Destra — You always remember your firsts when falling in love with sports, especially when you find a connection with one specific team. For me, it was the 2006 Phillies. I was eight.

As an adult, I often look back and realize how lucky I was to have found the Phillies when I did.

So, when one of the core pieces of the era that started it all for me came back to Citizens Bank Park, as a first-time opponent, I had to be there.

August 14, 2019 — four years after being traded, Hamels made his return to Philadelphia.

It was Hamels vs. Aaron Nola. A leader of the past against a leader of the future within the organization. In 2015, during Hamels' finale as a Phillie, where he threw his no-hitter against the Cubs, Nola was his teammate. In a way, that game felt like an invisible passing of the baton.

The Phillies won the day of his return, 11-1. Hamels only went two innings, but the standing ovation he received seemingly transported the ballpark back in time. In that moment, the crowd didn't see the Cubs' starting pitcher. They saw their 2008 World Series Champion and MVP. They saw the club's home-grown ace that led the franchise for a decade.

And suddenly, I was just a kid again, getting to watch my first favorite pitcher once more in person. This time though, it was with an abundance of gratitude for the door Hamels unknowingly opened all those years ago.

Clayton Dyer — Hamels’ 2008 season will rightfully be remembered for his performance in the World Series (of which he was the MVP), but his performance in the NLCS that season cemented Hamels as a bona fide ace and showed the baseball world that the Phillies were a force to be reckoned with.

Hamels simply dominated a Dodgers lineup stacked with the likes of Manny Ramirez, Andre Either and Matt Kemp, allowing just three earned runs and striking out 13 batters over 14.0 dazzling innings. Hamels toed the rubber and struck out eight batters over seven innings in the Phillies’ pennant-clinching Game 5 victory at Dodger Stadium, capping off an electric NLCS performance in which he earned a 1.93 — and an NLCS MVP award.

Paul Hagen — The weather in St. Louis on the afternoon of July 22, 2010 may not have been hot as hell, but it was still sweltering. Hot enough to make a sinner repent on the spot at the mere thought of spending eternity there. With humidity that sat on the 40,000 brave souls inside Busch Stadium like a wet, 300-pound pillow.

The Phillies, coming off back-to-back World Series appearances for the only time in franchise history, were in their own sort of purgatory going into that game against the Cardinals. Losers of four straight and 6 of their last 7. Languishing in third place of the National League East, seven games behind the pace-setting Braves.

The only bright spot for the visitors, aside from the sun’s glare, was that ace lefthander Hamels was scheduled to start that day. The metaphorical cloud was that manager Charlie Manuel’s bullpen had been stretched thin after Jamie Moyer pitched just one inning two days earlier. And, with a first pitch temperature of 92 degrees and a heat index of 105, it was fair to wonder how many innings Hamels would have in him.

Eight, as it turned out. During which he didn’t give up a run. And allowed just two baserunners on a single and a walk.

The Phils needed every shutout inning from Hamels, and more, before finally winning in 11. We’ll never know if it was his gutsy effort that galvanized the team, but the simple fact is that that touched off an 8-game winning streak. They eventually took 13 of their next 15 and ended up easily capturing their fourth straight division title.

The nickname – Hollywood Hamels – was probably inevitable for a first-round pick from Southern California with matinee idol looks. And his talent and ability to meet the moment – 2008 NLCS and World Series MVP – was already obvious. But that day showcased the inner steel and determination underpinning the glitz.

Jordan Hall — I’ll always enjoy the memory of working in our newsroom as a web producer on the day Hamels spun a no-hit farewell at Wrigley Field.

The anticipation and nerves built as everyone could sense this was not your ordinary Saturday game in July.

Remember, the Phillies were bad in 2015. They were 35-63 going into the game. But Hamels made them extraordinary that day, giving the Phillies’ core one last celebration on baseball’s mountaintop.

Per usual, the legendary Jim Salisbury made my job easy with outstanding work and storytelling from Chicago.

I left the Wells Fargo Center knowing I wouldn’t forget that Saturday in the office, thanks to Hamels’ goodbye.

Sean Kane — I was two years old when the 76ers won the NBA Championship in 1983. That capped off a very successful 10-year run for Philadelphia professional sports. The Flyers won a pair of Stanley Cups in 1974 and 1975, the Phillies won their first World Series in 1980 and the 76ers finally delivered on their ‘We Owe You One’ promise with a championship in 1983.

But some dark days followed. A quarter century’s worth of dark days. When the 2008 Phillies season arrived, it had been 25 years since Philadelphia won a professional sports championship. 100 total seasons if you factor in the Eagles, Phillies, 76ers and Flyers. I don’t remember the ‘83 76ers, so my entire existence as a Philadelphia sports fan consisted of knowing that the season would eventually end with a loss. There were some teams that came agonizingly close to winning it all – the 2004 Eagles, the 2001 76ers, and most painfully for me, the 1993 Phillies.

A championship just never seemed to be in the cards.

Hamels changed that.

Sure, there were other great players on that 2008 Phillies team. Chase Utley, Jimmy Rollins and Ryan Howard are all franchise icons. Pat Burrell, Shane Victorino, Jayson Werth and Carlos Ruiz were great players. But Hamels was hands down the biggest reason the ‘08 Phillies ended Philadelphia’s championship drought. After a very good regular season – 14-10 with a 3.09 ERA – he elevated his performance to a whole new level in October. He went 4-0 with a 1.80 ERA in five postseason starts, winning the NLCS and World Series MVP awards. The Phillies were invincible with Hamels on the mound that fall. He was at his best when the lights were brightest. And he did it at just 24 years of age, one year younger than our championship drought.

He showed an entire generation of Philadelphia sports fans that winning a championship was possible. That will always be Hamels’ legacy.

Noah Levick — I remember catching bits and pieces of Hamels’ MLB debut — five scoreless innings against the Reds on May 12, 2006. Larry Andersen heaped praise on his changeup, which didn’t feel excessive. Right away, you could see Hamels had a special pitch and expected to get great hitters out.

Even before he hit his prime years, he was someone you wanted to watch every five days: A lanky lefty all about deception. Nothing like the experience of Billy Wagner thrilling fans with 100 mph heaters, but it took almost no time to buy the Hamels hype.

Dan Roche — His final start as a Phillies pitcher, July 25, 2015 at Wrigley Field. When he was on, he was virtually unhittable, and he truly was on this day. Most fans knew he would be traded that week as the trading deadline grew near, so his no-hitter was as bittersweet as a moment could be.

It was nearly ruined when the last batter in the ninth inning skied a ball to deep center. Odubel Herrera circled, fought himself, fell down, but still managed to catch the ball less than a foot off the warning track. You could almost see Hamels' joy mitigated a bit, as he himself knew that his next start would be for a new team for the first time in his career.

Corey Seidman — There are so many memories to choose from — the 2008 playoff dominance, Hamels reaching an even higher level three years later when he incorporated a cutter, and then of course ending his Phillies career with a no-hitter that made pretty much no sense.

Everyone knew he was getting traded in a matter of days, he’d just allowed 14 runs on 20 hits over 6.1 innings in his prior two starts, and then Hollywood Hamels goes out and authors a no-hitter at Wrigley Field for his swan song. The Phillies obviously don’t win the 2008 World Series without him, making Hamels just as important to that era as anyone.

Subscribe anywhere you get your podcasts:
Apple Podcasts | Youtube Music | Spotify | Stitcher | Art19 | RSSWatch on YouTube

Contact Us