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Hamelin Wins Rookie Award in Landslide

October 20, 1994|From Associated Press

NEW YORK — Bob Hamelin, who inherited Kansas City's designated hitting job from George Brett after spending six seasons in the minor leagues, was an easy winner Wednesday as American League rookie of the year.

Hamelin, a standout at Irvine High, Rancho Santiago and UCLA, was the first designated hitter to win the award, and the first Royal since Lou Piniella in 1969.

Hamelin hit 24 home runs, breaking Bo Jackson's Royal rookie record of 22 set in 1987, had 65 runs batted in and was batting .282 when the players' strike started Aug. 12.

He also led AL rookies in homers, RBIs, runs (64), hits (88), doubles (25), walks (56) and games (101).

"I did spend quite a few years in the minor leagues," said Hamelin, 26, whose progress was slowed by back problems. "I definitely paid my dues. That does make it a little more rewarding."

Hamelin showed flashes of what was to come in his first season in pro ball, leading the Northwest League with 17 homers for Class-A Eugene, after being picked by the Royals in the second round of the June 1988 draft.

After several years of back trouble, he went through an injury-free 1993 and hit 29 home runs for triple-A Omaha.

Hamelin made his major league debut in 1993, hitting two home runs in 49 at-bats. At the time, though, the Royals already were counting on him to take over the DH spot left open by Brett's retirement.

This season, Hamelin's biggest homer was a two-out, three-run shot in the bottom of the 12th inning off Chicago reliever Roberto Hernandez on July 25 for a 6-4 victory that kept alive Kansas City's eventual 14-game winning streak.

The Royals closed to within four games of the AL Central-leading White Sox when the strike started.

Hamelin, who also played 24 games at first base, received 25 of 28 first-place votes in balloting by the Baseball Writers Assn. of America. He also got three second-place votes and totaled 134 points.

Cleveland outfielder Manny Ramirez, who hit .269 with 17 home runs and 60 RBIs, was runner-up with 44 points. Pitcher Brian Anderson and outfielder Jim Edmonds of the Angels finished seventh and eighth.

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