Tragic. Devastating. Heartbreaking.
Those are just some of the thoughts and words I have after hearing about the sudden passing of former Charlotte Knights right-handed pitcher Tommy Hanson.
At just 29 years old, the talented, hard-throwing pitcher had so much more to give the world. And, after seeing the outpouring of thoughts and prayers today, it’s obvious that Tommy touched so many lives throughout the game — and throughout his short time on earth.
As a Public Relations Director, I keep my relationship with players professional. I work with them during the season to set up interviews with the media and I try to help them out with anything they may need. While I wish I could somehow stay in touch with every player I have come into contact with over my nine years working in professional baseball, it’s unfortunate that it doesn’t work that way. Players come and go each year, and we lose touch.
Tommy’s time with the Knights was short. He appeared in 10 games in 2014 with the club after signing a minor league contract with the Chicago White Sox on April 7, 2014. He was officially assigned to the Knights on April 19 and made his Knights debut on April 20.
I remember the day he made his debut for the Knights. The team was in Gwinnett County, GA playing the G-Braves. Hanson, a standout with the Braves, who still lived in the Atlanta area, was ready to face his former ‘mates. I wanted to drive down to Coolray Field that day to be there and see what that would be like. Hanson was very well-liked in the Braves organization. Very respected for his accomplishments.
The Oklahoma native won 45 games for Atlanta over four seasons (2009-12). He finished third in the National League Cy Young Award voting in 2009 after posting an 11-4 record with a 2.89 ERA in 21 starts as a rookie. In fact, he won at least 10 games in each of his four seasons, including 13 in 2012.
Over his last three seasons, however, he appeared in just 15 games at the major league level. He went 4-3 with a 5.42 ERA for the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim in 2013.
After that, it was on to the Knights in 2014 and the San Francisco Giants minor league system last year (San Jose & Sacramento). Still, Tommy was pitching and making an impact on those who he came in contact with.
Once rated as the number four prospect in all of baseball by Baseball America (2009), Hanson will always be remembered around the game by so many.
On behalf of the Charlotte Knights organization, my thoughts and prayers go out to Tommy’s family and friends at this time. RIP, Tommy. Thanks for your contributions to Charlotte Knights baseball.