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Billy Hamilton, the prolific base stealer recently promoted from the Single-A Bakersfield Blaze, has gotten the attention of Sports Illustrated, which is asking, is he the "Fastest Ballplayer Ever"?
Blaze manager Ken Griffey thinks so, telling the magazine's Albert Chen about a brazen play in which Hamilton scored in the ninth inning of a scoreless game:
" 'The hitter was kind of jammed and he hit a pop fly to second,' Griffey told Sports Illustrated. 'I look over at third and I see Billy going back to the base, looking like he's getting ready to push off, and I'm thinking, Now what the hell is he doing? The second baseman had his back to the plate, he was on the edge of the outfield grass behind second base, and the moment he touched the ball, Billy took off. And he was gone. This is a pop fly to second base, and Billy tagged up and scored. Standing up.'
"Griffey continued, 'Thought I'd seen it all -- but I'd never seen that,' he says. 'I've seen all the great ones who could change the game with their speed. But Billy -- it's true, he's a little bit different.' "