When I came to the Woodinville Weekly five years ago, the first vivid memory was Falcon players forming a dog pile near the pitcher’s mound. Woodinville had just won the Kingco 4A tourney. Senior shortstop Caleb Hamilton was the leader on that club.
As Caleb graduated and moved on, we’ve kept in touch at his various stops. The first was when he played third base for the Oregon State Beavers. Then when he was drafted by the Minnesota Twins, he played rookie ball in the Appalachian League, for Elizabethton. Last year, he played for the Cedar Rapids Kernels. One night when we spoke, his team was staying in a “less than four star” hotel near the banks of the Mississippi River.
This season, Hamilton plays for the Fort Myers Miracle, in the Advanced A League. We spoke on the phone 30 minutes after his team beat Bradenton 2-1 in ten innings. With that win, the Miracle’s second-half record was 37-27, placing them just a ½ game out of first place. They were making a playoff run.
Hamilton chuckled when reminded of past conversations about hotels.
“Sometimes you don’t stay in the nicest hotels,” he said. “But here [at Fort Myers] we’ve stayed in some nice hotels. We stayed right on the beach in Daytona. You walk right out of your room and you’re on the beach. That was pretty sweet.”
Last year, the Twins organization had Hamilton playing a variety of positions: catcher, third base and first base. This season, Fort Myers is playing him almost exclusively at catcher. They like his defensive abilities behind the plate. On offense, he’s hitting .211 with 4 home runs and 42 RBIs in 87 games.
A couple weeks ago, he ripped a game-winning double against the Charlotte Stone Crabs.
“We were down the entire game,” Hamilton said. “They brought in a submarine pitcher. That was pretty difficult to face, [the ball] comes out like a softball pitcher.”
Hamilton quickly fell behind 0-2 in the count. But then the submariner tried to sneak a fastball by him. Hamilton smashed a line drive down the right field line, which drove in the winning run.
“It was a good feeling to do that,” Hamilton said.
He wasn’t the only one excited over that game. Back home in Woodinville, his proud papa was posting the exploits to Facebook. John Hamilton, who coaches the defensive line for the Woodinville Falcons, was pretty fired up.
“I love my parents and they support everything that I do,” Caleb said. “It’s hard for them to follow me this season because there is no live feed for our games. So they can only follow through Twitter [a phone app]. They’re really proud and it’s a good feeling to make them proud.”
Caleb Hamilton was asked how he’s changed over the past year.
“My approach to the game is a lot better,” he said. “I have a better mindset of what I want and need to do. From getting my body ready to catch nine innings to watching film on an upcoming pitcher. Paying attention to little details that you didn’t before. Each year you learn more. And I have felt this calmness in the second half this year. It has come through a little meditation I have developed this season. It’s all about getting prepared for the daily process.”