Steven Absher Hamilton (November 30, 1934 – December 2, 1997) was a Major League Baseball (MLB) and NBA player.
He was mostly a relief pitcher during his 12 MLB seasons, including a stint as the New York Yankees closer during the 1968 season. In 421 career games (17 starts) from 1961 to 1972 he had a 40–31 record with 42 saves and a 3.05 earned run average. He pitched 1 inning during the Yankees 1963 World Series loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers and 2 innings during the Yankees 1964 World Series loss to the St. Louis Cardinals, including 1 save. He also pitched in the 1971 NLCS for the San Francisco Giants.
His one complete game shutout was on August 5, 1966, against the Cleveland Indians, while pitching for the New York Yankees. He gave up 5 hits, walked 1 and struck out 3. It was one of only 3 starts he had in the 1966 season.
Late in his career Hamilton threw the famed "folly-floater," a high, slow eephus pitch. Other pitchers that have thrown a lob pitch include Rip Sewell and Dave LaRoche. One of his most famous moments involving this pitch occurred on June 24, 1970, in the first game of a doubleheader against the Cleveland Indians. Hamilton threw a "folly floater" to Indian slugger Tony Horton, who fouled it out of play. Horton asked for another; Hamilton obliged and again threw him the pitch, and again Horton hit it into foul territory — this time into Thurman Munson's mitt for an out. An embarrassed Horton crawled back into the dugout on all fours. A clip of this can be found on Video on YouTube.
From 1958 to 1960 he was a power forward/center for the Minneapolis Lakers. He played for the 1958/59 team that lost to the Boston Celtics during the 1959 NBA Finals. Over 2 seasons he averaged 4.5 points per game, 3.4 rebounds per game, and 0.5 assists per game.
After his major league career ended, he was a Detroit Tigers coach in 1975 and was the athletic director at his alma mater, Morehead State University. Hamilton died of colon cancer at age 63.
Hamilton is one of only two people to have played in both a World Series and an NBA finals. [The other person is Gene Conley, who, unlike Hamilton, won both a World Series (in 1957 with the Milwaukee Braves) and an NBA finals (from 1959 to 1961 with the Boston Celtics). Conley is the only player to achieve both feats.]
By Dean Hanley
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