Reliving Hamels' best moments with Phillies

August 5th, 2023

This story was excerpted from Todd Zolecki’s Phillies Beat newsletter. To read the full newsletter, click here. And subscribe to get it regularly in your inbox.

’ next baseball stop is the Phillies’ Wall of Fame

If you bring up the core from the 2007-11 Phillies teams, you typically start with Jimmy Rollins, Chase Utley and Ryan Howard. But Hamels is right there, too. He was the homegrown ace. He was an All-Star, a Cy Young contender, a World Series MVP and NLCS MVP.

Phillies history would look way different without him.

Hamels officially retired on Friday, following a short-lived comeback with the Padres. He had not pitched since 2020 because of a left shoulder issue that required surgery.

So, this is a good time to reminisce about the left-hander’s legacy. Here are my five favorite Hamels moments in a Phillies uniform.

1. 2008
The Phillies would not have won the 2008 World Series without Hamels.

He earned World Series MVP and NLCS MVP honors with a combined 4-0 record and a 1.80 ERA in five postseason starts, in which he struck out 30 batters and walked nine over 35 innings. Hamels set the tone with eight scoreless innings in a victory over the Brewers in Game 1 of the NLDS at Citizens Bank Park, then he allowed one run in seven innings in Game 5 of the NLCS at Dodger Stadium, clinching the Phillies’ first trip to the World Series since 1993.

Hamels went ahead to the win in Game 1 of the World Series in St. Petersburg. He pitched well in horrid conditions in that infamous Game 5 in Philadelphia, too.

“I can’t describe it,” Hamels said after the Phillies won the championship two days later. “It’s such a phenomenal experience.”

Asked if he thought he earned the reputation as a big-game pitcher, he said, “Shoot, I guess so. I love to go out there and pitch. I love to go out there and win. That’s all I strive for.”

2. Epic finale
Hamels threw a no-hitter against the Cubs on July 25, 2015, at Wrigley Field. It was his final start with the Phillies, who traded him to Texas six days later.

“It’s not what I envisioned,” Hamels said. “It’s not what I thought. It’s not in my thought process. I think all I’ve been thinking about the past couple days was just to kind of correct my pitching, just being able to be out there and enjoy the moment.

“Just a surreal moment.”

Asked where it ranked on his list of accomplishments, Hamels said, “Nothing will top winning a World Series, but I think this is probably on that top list. It’s right under it.”

Hamels was also part of a combined no-hitter on Sept. 1, 2014, at Turner Field, where he and relievers Jake Diekman, Ken Giles and Jonathan Papelbon shut down the Braves.

3. Game 3 of the 2010 NLDS
Hamels struggled throughout 2009, including the postseason. He said after a poor performance in Game 3 of the World Series that he could not wait for the season to end so he could get a fresh start. He then said he badly wanted the opportunity to redeem himself in Game 7.

That part never made the radio or newspapers.

But Hamels showed what a fresh start could do with a dominant performance in a shutout victory against the Reds in Game 3 of the NLDS on Oct. 10, 2010. It clinched the Phillies’ third consecutive trip to the NLCS.

“He could have thrown another two innings, the way he was throwing out there,” Brad Lidge said.

“He was locked in, man,” Roy Halladay said.

4. Hollywood debut
Hamels allowed one hit in five scoreless innings in his highly anticipated MLB debut on May 12, 2006, in Cincinnati. He struck out seven and walked five. Hamels was so excited early that he threw more balls than strikes in his first three innings.

“I just had to breathe a little more,” Hamels said. “Just take a deep breath. I think that’s something I’m going to learn along the way.”

To breathe?

“Yeah,” he said. “You can’t breathe out of your eyelids.”

Hamels allowed his sole hit of the outing to Felipe López -- a two-out double in the fifth inning. The lefty then struck out Ken Griffey Jr. swinging on a 0-2 changeup to end the inning.

“I grew up watching him when I was in grade school,” Hamels said of Griffey. “I tried to collect his baseball cards. I don’t know if I’ll be able to go up and ask for his autograph anymore.”

5. Sneak preview
Remember this spring when 19-year-old Andrew Painter made his Grapefruit League debut against the Twins?

“I believe this kid’s going to be a star,” Twins shortstop Carlos Correa said.

Multiply the hype by 10 and you get Hamels’ Grapefruit League debut as a 20-year-old against the Yankees, in Tampa on March 5, 2004.

Hamels pitched two scoreless innings against New York. He struck out Derek Jeter swinging on a 1-2 changeup, then he got Alex Rodriguez looking on a 1-2 changeup and Tony Clark swinging on a 2-2 changeup to end the fifth inning.

“I was hoping I could face them,” Hamels said of Jeter and A-Rod. “Facing two possible Hall of Famers right off the bat and doing well against them, it’s a good thing.”