Cole Hamels padded his lengthy resume with his no-hitter at Wrigley Field on Saturday. He’s a world champion, and World Series MVP, an All-Star, and now a member of the group of mound masters who have thrown a no-no.
But before he accomplished all that, he was part of an even bigger, and potentially more exclusive, club. He is a San Diego baseball phenom.
The list of Big League ballplayers to hail from San Diego County is astounding. In fact, Hamels has some company when it comes to San Diegans who have thrown a no-hitter. That list is fairly impressive:
- Don Larsen, Point Loma H.S. for the Yankees (Perfect Game) in 1956, which is still the only no-hitter in World Series history
- Dave Morehead, Herbert Hoover H.S. for the Red Sox in 1965
- David Wells, Point Loma H.S. for the Yankees (Perfect Game) in 1998
- Cole Hamels, Rancho Bernardo H.S. for the Phillies in 2015
There are also two San Diegans who were starters in combined no-hitters:
- Mark Langston, born in San Diego but moved before high school, for the Angels combined with one other pitcher in 1990
- Mark Williamson, Mount Miguel H.S. for the Orioles (with three other pitchers) in 1991
There are 240 players who have come from a San Diego high school or college who have made the Major Leagues. On the list are Hall of Famers, Cy Young Award winners, MVPs and All-Stars from every single position on the diamond.
How about this for a San Diego starting nine:
Ted Williams (Hoover HS), LF
Adam Jones (Morse HS), CF
Tony Gwynn (San Diego State), RF
Adrian Gonzalez (Eastlake HS), 1B
Marcus Giles (Granite Hills HS), 2B
Alan Trammell (Kearny HS), SS
Kris Bryant (University of San Diego), 3B
Bob Boone (Crawford HS), C
And that leaves guys like Troy Glaus, Mark Grace, Chris Chambliss, Brian Giles, Carlos Quentin and Eric Karros on the bench. The starting rotation would win you a few games, too.
Cole Hamels (Rancho Bernardo HS), LHP
Stephen Strasburg (West Hills HS, San Diego State), RHP
Don Larsen (Point Loma HS), RHP
David Wells (Point Loma HS), LHP
Barry Zito (Grossmont HS and USDHS), LHP
Alas, Mark Prior and Aaron Harang will have to head to the bullpen with Joel Zumaya and his 104-MPH fastball (the Bonita Vista HS alum would finally get a chance to close consistently on this club).
That’s not a bad collection of talent for nation’s 28th-largest media market. Oh, and Bryce Harper also spent time in southern California playing the The San Diego Show, one of the most successful travel ball teams in the nation. According to research from Sportchart, at the end of the 2014 season only two cities on the planet had more players on current MLB rosters (Houston, TX and Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic).
But even inside the hotbed that is San Diego, Hamels comes from a place that churns out baseball talent. In the book Moneyball, Cole Hamels is a product of “The Factory.” That’s the nickname scouts have for Rancho Bernardo High School, where Hamels prepped and was drafted 17th overall by the Phillies in 2002.
RBHS has put 62 players in to professional baseball. Keep in mind, the school did not open until 1990. That’s an average of 2.3 players every year who are good enough to be professional baseball players. Hamels is the cream of that crop for now, but there are more on the way. Many more.
I suppose all this amateur talent is a way for us to make up for all the years of dealing with the Padres. If only MLB could come up with a way to institute a system like Major League Soccer’s that aims to keep local talent on local teams. With this amount and quality of homegrown talent, the Friars would be in the playoffs every single year.