On Friday, under an accelerated schedule prompted by dire circumstances, the former big leaguer is set to graduate a month early from medical school on Long Island.
Next stop for the rookie doc, the firsthand fight against the coronavirus pandemic in one of the world’s hardest-hit areas.
“I could get the call tomorrow, that it’s time to go in,” Hamilton stated this week. “I have had an incredible journey to becoming a doctor over the last four years, and not once did I think that I would find myself entering the field in a time like this.”
“Over both my careers, it’s the same thing. You’ve got a job to do, you’re needed, do them to the best of your ability,” he said.
The 35-year-old Hamilton spent the first half of the 2011 campaign with the Cardinals. He subbed for slugger Albert Pujols a few times and even got a winning hit that ultimately helped St. Louis squeeze into the playoffs by one game.
The left-handed hitter who played 47 games in the majors will join another lineup once he leaves the Donald and Barbara Zucker School of Medicine at Hofstra/Northwell.
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“That’s a great story, what Mark’s done. That’ll be a high point at this period,” said Hall of Famer Tony La Russa, Hamilton’s manager with the Cards.
Hamilton comes from a family that has accomplished success on and off the field.
His brother played soccer in college, his sister is a top equestrian. His grandfather was a basketball star in the forerunner of the NBA.
Hamilton’s father, Stanley, was the longtime head of pathology and laboratory medicine at MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston. He presently holds the same position at the City of Hope center in Southern California.
“My dad jokes that the athletic ability skipped a generation,” Hamilton said.
A 6-foot-4 power hitter, Hamilton helped Tulane reach the 2005 College World Series. The next year, he was a second-round draft pick by the Cardinals.
“Good size, live bat, good pop,” La Russa remembered. “Good intelligence. He knew what was going on.”
In September 2010, Hamilton got the call to the majors and posted his first two hits. In 2011, he stayed with St. Louis almost all the way to the All-Star break, mostly as a pinch hitter.
Hamilton’s highlight came on July 4 before a big crowd at Busch Stadium. Batting for ace Chris Carpenter with two outs and a runner on third in the eighth inning of a scoreless match, his infield single off Johnny Cueto gave the Cardinals a 1-0 victory over Cincinnati.
After nine productive pro seasons that included over 100 home runs in the minors, he was released in July 2014, three days before his 30th birthday.
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