Baseball's Darryl Hamilton Remembered Following Apparent Murder-Suicide

Darryl Hamilton's smile was big enough to fill a baseball stadium.

ByABC News
June 23, 2015, 3:52 AM

— -- Darryl Hamilton's smile was big enough to fill a baseball stadium.

His pearly whites were visible in lots of stadiums through the years – in Milwaukee and Texas and San Francisco and Colorado and New York, the nomadic existence of a baseball lifer. Hamilton thrived in the Major Leagues for 13 seasons on grit and guile, steady hitting, blazing speed and standout defense.

Hamilton’s insight and personality helped him adapt to his latest role, as an analyst for MLB Network.

But the baseball world was left reeling Monday after authorities announced that Hamilton was dead at 50, the victim in an apparent murder-suicide in Pearland, Texas. His girlfriend Monica Jordan, 44, was also found dead inside the home, as well as the couple’s unharmed 14-month-old, authorities said.

“After responding to a 911 call on Sunday, June 21, 2015 at approximately 4:45 p.m., officers located the body of a deceased male near the main entry to the home,” police said in a news release. “A female, also deceased, was located in another area of the home. Both of the dead suffered apparent gunshot wounds. Based on the initial investigation, it appeared as if Hamilton was the victim of several gunshots and that Jordan had a self-inflicted gunshot wound.”

The shooting investigation is ongoing, Pearland Police said.

Outfielder Darryl Hamilton of the Colorado Rockies poses for a studio portrait on Photo Day during Spring Training at Hi Corbett Field in Tuscon, Arizona, Feb. 25, 1999.

Darryl Quinn Hamilton was born on Dec. 3, 1964 in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

The megawatt smile was regularly present, even at a young age. But according to a 1993 article by The Advocate in Baton Rouge, two experiences shaped Hamilton during his high school years – his parents’ divorce and his mother battling breast cancer.

His high school yearbook entry featured a meaningful saying: "You never get a second chance, so always make the first impression the best." Hamilton made his impressions count on the baseball diamond, starring at Nicholls State University before the Milwaukee Brewers selected him in the 11th round of the 1986 draft.

Hamilton was a hitting machine during his climb through the minor leagues. He batted a league-best .391 – ahead of Gary Sheffield – for the Rookie League Helena Gold Sox in 1986. He was among his league’s batting leaders in 1987 and 1988, too, before reaching the majors on June 3, 1988.

Hamilton singled in his first Major League at-bat, a ground ball up the middle. He would scatter more than 1,300 hits across 13 big league seasons.

Darryl Hamilton of the San Francisco Giants is seen during a game against the St. Louis Cardinals, June 7, 1998 at Busch Stadium in St. Louis, Missouri.

He spent the early part of his career with the Milwaukee Brewers. In his first full season, 1991, he batted .311. He added a career high 41 steals in 1992.

After circumstances soured in Milwaukee, Hamilton left via free agency, spending the 1996 season with the Texas Rangers, his first taste of the postseason. He would also reach the playoffs in 1997, 1999 and 2000, helping the New York Mets to the World Series.

On June 12, 1997, he recorded the first hit during an interleague game in Major League history.

Hamilton finished his career with a .291 batting average. His patience at the plate – he walked 493 times, against 494 strikeouts – and bunting ability made him one of the peskiest leadoff men in baseball during the 1990s, a tone-setter who could cause problems for the opposition.

Additionally, he only made 14 errors in the field during his career for a .995 fielding percentage.

After the news reports emerged Monday, Hamilton’s contemporaries remembered the nutty, crazy, serious, fun guy, the teammate and friend. Former Brewers pitcher Dan Plesac recalled Hamilton’s superstar smile.

They had seen each other a few weeks ago, Plesac said.

“He was a guy that loved baseball, he loved to work, he was a great teammate, he was a great father, he was a great friend, and everybody that ever crossed Darryl’s path, the same thing – he always had that smile. And that’s what I choose to remember about Darryl Hamilton,” Plesac said on MLB Network.

MLB commissioner Rob Manfred issued a statement following Hamilton’s death.

“He was a talented and personable individual, and we were proud to call him a member of the Baseball Family,” Manfred said in the statement. “On behalf of Major League Baseball, I extend my deepest sympathies to Darryl’s family and many friends throughout our game.”

Hamilton was apparently reflecting on family in the hours before he died, posting a black and white image to Facebook on Sunday, Father’s Day, showing him sitting next to his two older sons, all of them wearing jerseys emblazoned with their last name on the reverse.

The father and his sons are holding gloves, seemingly ready to toss the ball – a moment to smile about before everything turned so, so sad.