Words fail. Tommy Hanson, dead at 29

tommy_hanson

Tommy Hanson was the Atlanta Braves’ biggest pitching prospect of the first decade of the new millennium, the most precious arm this pitching-powered franchise had drafted and developed since Steve Avery. His major-league debut in June 2009 was such an event that the Braves cut Tom Glavine — then attempting to close his Hall of Fame career with a final comeback — to make room for Hanson in the rotation.

And here we bow our heads and speak words that defy belief: Tommy Hanson died Monday night at age 29.

Third in the voting for National League rookie of the year in 2009. Should have made the All-Star team in 2011. Traded to the Angels for Jordan Walden in November 2012. Cut by the Angels, the Rangers and the White Sox. Spent last season in the Giants’ minor-league chain. Hanson’s career was a tale of great promise gone sour, but that doesn’t matter now. All that matters is that he’s gone at 29.

I can’t claim to have known him well, but I knew him a little. We spoke in spring training before he was promoted to the big club, and it was clear not much fazed him. (He grew up in California, and it was all I could do to keep from typing the hackneyed phrase “California cool.”)

The first time I saw him throw, the hitch in his delivery reminded me — oddly enough — of quarterback Philip Rivers. The first time I saw Rivers play for N.C. State, I thought, “Does he throw that way all the time?” Same with Hanson, although the odd motion seemed to work. He was 11-4 with a 2.89 ERA as a rookie and 10-4 with a 2.44 ERA in the first half of 2011. He was essentially as good as advertised.

And then he wasn’t. He got hurt and lost the oomph on his fastball. The Braves decided they’d seen enough and traded him for a reliever. He would win four more big-league games after leaving here. He didn’t pitch in the majors in 2014 and 2015. I’d think of him occasionally and wonder how he was doing. And now he’s dead.

I wish I had something really profound to offer, but I don’t. I’m not feeling anything any different from anyone who saw him pitch or had a conversation with him. I liked him, and I’m sorry he’s gone. This is awful news.

Reader Comments 0

22 comments
tneck
tneck

That Bond character needs to be in jail for all the harm he's done to people.  Please let the authorities get to the bottom of this and all the other things he's done.  He is a cancer on society. 

MaybeMaybeNot
MaybeMaybeNot

Another sad story of an athlete getting addicted to Oxycodone that was originally prescribed for the aches and pains that athletes have.

Kwajbraves
Kwajbraves

RIP Tommy Gun.  You'll be remembered always as a Brave

thr2
thr2

So sorry for his family, teamates and friends. He's gone so speculation of why he died doesn't matter and doesn't help those grieving. Remember the good times of watching Big Red pitch with that great young lineup the Braves had.

Mark719
Mark719

So nicely written, Mark, thank you. RIP Tommy.

Jazzpman
Jazzpman

Yes an awful mess, and I hope like heck it wasn't drugs, but we will all know soon in this day and age of information even if we want to or not.


I feel mostly for the family.

I read about Tommy suffering because of losing his step brother, I wonder if that didn't send him over the top, along with not being able to do what he loved to do.....Pitch because his shoulder went out on him. 


Now in a short period of time the family is burying two brothers, and as a parent today, I am not sure if I could handle that !


Today is a day to hug your kids, tell your spouse you love them, and call a friend you haven't spoken too in a while.

Tell someone you love them............. tomorrow is not guaranteed !

escapeplan
escapeplan

Words fail me. I heard this in the morning and could not believe it. Just way too young to die.

MarkAnderson
MarkAnderson

My sympathies to his family. He had far too much life ahead of him that is sadly gone.

ownerccc
ownerccc

Condolences to the Hanson family and Braves family. God speed Tommy

georgelamplugh
georgelamplugh

It is indeed awful news!  Thank you, Mark. . . .

MS
MS

Unbelievable! RIP Tommy Hanson

BigMJ1
BigMJ1

I am just really sad.  I don't know if he had a wife or girlfriend but if he does (did) just know the Braves Nation mourns for you and of course his family.

May you rest in peace Tommy.

Chris11165
Chris11165

Tremendous sadness over this....great kid who gave his all while a Brave and its a tragic day for Braves Nation for sure 

Coach Howard
Coach Howard

The news leaves me  with great sadness.  Tommy's warm manner toward those he met just made him a regular guy loved by many.  

TOJacket
TOJacket

That is just to young to die..........God bless his family........God's a Braves fan too.

Jorge L. Perez
Jorge L. Perez

Fine column... no melodramatics, as is often the case in these situations.

BigMikeyDawg
BigMikeyDawg

Mark, this is indeed very sad. May he rest in peace.

DrPhill
DrPhill

In spite of the money and attention, professional athletes' lives can be fragile, particularly when the cheering stops.

Savdon
Savdon

The only thing we can offer is and sympathy and condolences to his family.  Those who knew him and his family best know what they have to do.