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Billy Hamilton Sets Minor League Base Stealing Record

Cincinnati Reds minor leaguer Billy Hamilton stole his 146th base of the season on Tuesday night, breaking a 29-year-old record that had been held by former major leaguer Vince Coleman.

Hamilton, a highly regarded 21-year-old shortstop prospect who could see his first big-league action when rosters expand in September, wound up stealing four bases in the first game of the Double-A doubleheader. He registered his 147th steal in the final inning of Pensacola’s 4-2 loss to Montgomery.

A former Mississippi high school star who turned down a college football scholarship offer to Mississippi State, Hamilton had totaled 104 of his steals in the first half of the season while playing for Class A Bakersfield before being promoted to the Southern League.

Coleman had previously held the record for steals by minor league teams affiliated with big league organizations when he notched 145 for Macon in the Class A South Atlantic League in 1983. He went on to enjoy a long and productive major league career.

Hall of Famer Rickey Henderson holds the major league single-season record for steals with 130 in 1982.

Hamilton, the Reds’ second-round pick (57th overall selection) from the 2009 Major League Baseball Draft, wasted no time in running into history, stealing second base in the first inning before swiping his second and third in the third inning to eclipse Coleman’s mark. He slid head-first into third to break the record, where he received a hearty handshake from manager Jim Riggleman, who was coaching third base. An appreciative crowd paid tribute to the speedster’s accomplishment with a standing ovation.

Hamilton’s teammates immediately rushed out of the dugout to applaud him. Ryan LaMarre, who was batting for the Blue Wahoos at the time, waltzed down the third base line to congratulate his teammate.

Hamilton has been thrown out 33 times this season, but just his presence on the base paths has proven distracting to opposing teams, precipitating a number of errors and balks.

Hamilton has played 120 games this year, while Coleman needed just 113 during his record-setting season while caught stealing 31 times.

Hamilton is batting .301 for Pensacola.

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