Wednesday, March 22, 2006

March 22nd, 1965

Glenallen Hill Born

Glenallen Hill is usually noted for a couple of things. For one, he was an absolute butcher in the outfield; astoundingly he played nearly seven hundred games there, making nearly sixty errors in the bargain. Of course, Hill was also the sort-of outfielders for whom errors don't tell the whole story, since he possessed limited range, especially in his older days when he lost his foot speed; Mariners' pitching coach Bryan Price once described Hill's defense as like watching "a gaffed [hooked] haddock surface for air."

Hill's other great claim-to-fame was his intense arachnophobia. On one occasion, Hill had to go on the fifteen-day DL after having a nightmare involving being chased by spiders; he smashed his hand on a glass table and fell down a flight of stairs attempting to "escape" the spiders. I suppose the cynical take on all this would be that Hill must've often thought that fly balls had spiders on them.

What I remember about Glenallen Hill however, is his August 2000 season for the Yankees. I have personally never seen a man on such an astounding hot streak. Hill's raw numbers, .411/.456/.877, with ten home runs in just twenty-one games, tell a lot of the story but that doesn't really cover it. Hill seemed to homer every time he was up, and his home runs were absolute monsters, he hit at least one I remember into the black seats in (very) deep center field in Yankee Stadium. Hill did all this with a violent, forceful swing that seemed to lack almost any follow through; that August he just swung and the ball took off. I'm sure players have had more dominant stretches, but I can never remember anyone putting on a performance like Glenallen Hill in August 2000.

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