Gone Way Too Soon!
Working at the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame and Museum we deal with death way too often. Many of our inductees had their glory days in the 40’s, 50’s, or 60’s and it is always a sad day when we lose one of these heroes. This morning I was shocked to hear of the death of Tommy Hanson, only 29 years of age, six feet six inches and 220 lbs. and a fit athlete. In 2009 while working for the Braves triple A franchise in Gwinnett Georgia I met and got to know Tommy Hanson.
Tommy had not been a high round draft choice out of high school, signing after being drafted in the 22nd round in 2006. He was big and strong and despite an unusual pitching motion, he prospered in the Braves minor league system. He had his best year in 2008 while pitching here for the Mississippi Braves and started the 2009 campaign with our new franchise in Georgia. Tommy was clearly a California kid. He was friendly and polite but quiet around people he didn’t know. He was outgoing with his teammates but seemingly uncomfortable with the expectations that were placed on him as he gained notoriety for his successes.
He only spent a couple of months with the G-Braves before going up to the big leagues and having success there. He threw hard but had an unorthodox motion that eventually caused him injury and limited his abilities to win at the big league level. He was the focus of the hype for young talent that the Braves hoped would sustain them for many years. He had a couple of winning seasons in Atlanta but developed shoulder problems that robbed him of attaining the high ceiling everyone had hoped he would reach.
Traded to the Angels, Tommy struggled both on and off the field. He lost his younger brother while with the Angels and had to take time off to cope. Shoulder and arm issues continued and he bounced from the Angels to the Rangers, Giants and White Sox but he never lost his desire to compete.
I don’t know what “catastrophic organ failure” entails, or why a healthy 29 year old would suffer from the disease, but I do know that a nice young man with what seemed like a bright future was taken much too quickly. I will miss the big red head and pray for his family in their loss.