Young King Cole

9 Jun

He may be the youngest of the four aces but he is sure pitching like the King of the Hill.  After yet another dominating performance last night by the 27-year-old lefty, many are attributing his success this year to his strong work ethic and growing maturity .  They say that he’s learned from the likes of current teammates Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, and Roy Oswalt.

But while that might be true, Cole Hamels‘ first and most important lessons came from another Phillies pitcher no longer in the clubhouse.

When Hamels was a rookie just called up from the minors, in just his second appearance he was pounded by the Cubs in an 11-2 loss at Wrigley Field.  Lucky for the 22-year-old, the Phillies had just signed another lefty almost twice his age.

43-year-old Jamie Moyer‘s locker was right next to Hamels and he was trying to come up with just the right words to offer after that kind of outing:

“I’m thinking, I want to say something but he’s a young kid and I don’t know how he’s going to react.  So he comes in and he’s standing there and I say, ‘You know Cole, regardless of how you did today, the biggest thing you can do is take something positive from the game and move forward.”‘

Hamels nodded, said “OK,” and a friendship was born.

Hamels found an invaluable ally and mentor in Moyer who helped to shape the pitcher, and man, he has become today. Long before the Four Aces came to town there was the Talented Kid and the Ageless Vet.  Although the two had little in common off the field, they formed a bond based on fastballs and change-ups.  (For the record, Hamels had the fastball!)

Jamie was the first person Hamels went to when he had a question about pitching.  During most telecasts you could see the two of them in the dugout huddled together, talking.  In fairness, Jamie did most of the talking in those days but Cole was listening.  And learning.

“This is the top level,Hamels said in that rookie year, “but there’s a level beyond it where you have the Cy Young winners ad MVP’s.  Jamie’s mental approach to the game is absolutely phenomenal.  If I can learn from him and better my mental approach, it will help me in the long run so I can get to that next level.”

Well, there is no doubt that Cole has hit that ‘next level.’  With an 8-2 record and 2.58 ERA some are already calling him the early favorite for the Cy Young.  In fact, in his last 9 starts, he is 6-0 with a 2.19 ERA.  And perhaps equally important, he has found a maturity on the mound that has eluded him in the past.

As for Jamie Moyer, he is out of baseball, still trying to rehab from 2010 Tommy John surgery, still hoping to “get back on the diamond in the future.”  For now, he is enjoying his role as an analyst for ESPN’s Baseball Tonight where he gets to “elaborate on the art of pitching.”  Maybe he is sharing with us some of what he taught Cole all those years ago.

And although Cole still has a lot pitching ahead of him, the day will come when he’ll be the veteran telling the new phenom after a tough outing,

“The biggest thing you can do is take something positive from the game and move forward.”

Jamie would be proud.

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2 Responses to “Young King Cole”

  1. Shirley June 9, 2011 at 4:11 pm #

    Sue, not only do I enjoy reading the daily blog, but I love the fact that I’m almost always learning something new about the game, or the players! Thanks….and GO-GO-GO PHILLIES!!!!!

    • girlsbestphriend June 9, 2011 at 7:05 pm #

      Thanks, Shirley. I’m so glad you’re enjoying the blog. Thanks for letting me know. And to tell you the truth, I’m learning new things too!

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