Hammonds welcomes Davis with crash course afield, at-bat He hits winning homer after run-in with 'brother'


September 16, 1997|By Kent Baker | Kent Baker,SUN STAFF

The day belonged to Eric Davis, but the offense was the property of Jeffrey Hammonds.

Davis' outfield running mate climaxed a strong game at the plate with the longest home run ever hit by an Oriole at Camden Yards, a two-run, seventh-inning shot that carried over the home bullpen to beat Cleveland, 6-5.

Then, Hammonds talked mostly about his first day officially alongside Davis since May 25.

The post-game banter centered on a collision they had in right-center after both zestfully pursued Matt Williams' deep drive in the fourth inning.

"I called for the ball and got hit in the jaw," said Hammonds. "Any other day it would have been his fault, but not on this one. I told him about moving over into my field and he told me to forget it."

Hammonds and Davis are used to friendly ribbing. They constantly do it on the bench and once it had been determined that nobody had been hurt on the play "the jawing began," according to Hammonds.

"He had the home-field advantage on me. The fans were getting on me after that play," Hammonds said. "It's like playing with your brother, a lot of fun."

Manager Davey Johnson said when "they ran together, Eric was more worried about Jeffrey."

Hammonds was appreciative that his offensive outburst arrived in Davis' first game back following surgery to remove a cancerous mass from his colon June 13.

"It was great to look over to see him play," said Hammonds, who as the leadoff hitter also walked and doubled in a run. "He's a gamer. He's not out there just for show. He didn't have to come back. He knows he can help the team."

In his third multi-hit game since July 22, Hammonds reached the 20-home run milestone with his 460-foot blast, only three feet short of the Camden Yards record set by Pedro Munoz of Oakland against then-Oriole David Wells May 25, 1996.

The clincher came against losing pitcher Eric Plunk after a key two-out single by pinch hitter Roberto Alomar.

"I knew he had to come after me," Hammonds said of the 2-1 pitch. "So, I was just sitting on his fastball. I knew I had hit it well, but I would have been happy with the home run if it scraped paint and went over."

Reaching 20 is an important point for Hammonds, a question mark in spring training, but thriving this season because he has stayed healthy aside from a nagging Achilles'. In 229 games before this season, Hammonds had hit just 24 homers.

"It's not like last year when Brady [Anderson] hit 50," he said. "But once you get to 20, you can't take that away. You've got to start somewhere."

Camden clouts

Jeffrey Hammonds' 460-foot homer off Cleveland's Eric Plunk in the first game of a doubleheader yesterday was the second-longest ever at Oriole Park. A look at the six longest:

Ft. Player, Team ........... Year

463 Pedro Munoz, Oakland ... 1996

460 Jeffrey Hammonds, O's .. 1997

457 Mo Vaughn, Boston ...... 1996

452 Eric Davis, Detroit .... 1993

450 Juan Gonzalez, Texas ... 1992

450 Manny Ramirez, Cleve. .. 1995

Pub Date: 9/16/97

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