Archive for April, 2014

Garrett Hampson in middle of Long Beach State baseball history

Sunday, April 20th, 2014

Originally Posted: Press Telegram
Date: 04/16/14
By: JJ Fiddler


Long Beach State freshman Garrett Hampson, who passed up MLB to be the third starting freshman shortstop in Dirtbag history. Long Beach Calif., Wednesday, April 16, 2014. (Photo by Stephen Carr / Daily Breeze)

By JJ Fiddler, Press-Telegram

Posted: |



Garrett Hampson is the biggest little shortstop in NCAA baseball.

You wouldn’t notice Hampson on the street. The 5-foot-11, 165-pound freshman is as unassuming as they come. But what the shortstop lacks in physical prowess he more than makes up for with baseball instincts. That’s why it’s impossible to miss him when he’s on the diamond.

“There are times when he’s the best player on the field,” said Long Beach State head coach Troy Buckley, who made Hampson only the third true freshman in Dirtbags history to start at shortstop. The Reno, Nev. native has done nothing but make his coach look smart by hitting .324 in the leadoff spot and assisting on 92 putouts with a .959 fielding percentage.


“I don’t worry about him,” added Buckley. “He doesn’t play like a freshman. And it’s not just his talent level. It’s his approach. In every situation he’s the same guy, even keel and ready for the next opportunity.”

Those instincts also helped Hampson make some very important decisions in high school that led him to Blair Field.

Hampson, 19, and his older brother, Colton, were always playing basketball or baseball as kids. Garrett turned into a pretty good point guard and enjoyed being in the gym for fast-paced action after spending months kicking the dirt on the diamond. That’s about the time his shoulder started to hurt.


As a freshman at Reno High, Hampson experienced pain and discomfort in his rotator cuff. The injury put him on an arduous throwing program that would drive any athlete crazy. The workouts are meant to slowly build up strength, but athletes don’t like to be told they can only throw 10 balls from 10 feet one day, 20 from 20 the next, and so on.

“It was frustrating,” Hampson said. “Honestly, basketball was a better option at the moment. I kept that to myself. I never wanted to quit (baseball) and my baseball coach helped me understand what I had. My love for the game took it from there.”


Reno High baseball head coach Pete Savage, brother of defending national champion UCLA head coach John Savage, puts his Huskies through college-like practices and the results don’t lie. Hampson and Reno won back-to-back regional championships and the shortstop was a two-time All-State selection. He hit .469 over three years at the varsity level with 418 hits and 158 runs scored.

During his senior season, Hampson had 36 RBIs and 21 stolen bases.

“I was a late bloomer,” said Hampson, who also calls himself a quiet leader by example. “It took a while for people to take notice. When (scouts) started showing up it was pretty special, but I was pressing at first. I had to just play my game, they were there to see me for a reason.”


Hampson’s stock skyrocketed during his senior season and he was ranked No. 84 in Baseball America’s top 500 prospect list prior to the 2013 Major League Baseball draft, and the Washington Nationals took him in the 26th round.

“I was going to college all the way,” said Hampson of his decision to skip the minor leagues and attend Long Beach State. “If something special happened, we would’ve taken a look, but I’ve been looking forward to going to college all along.”

A 4.0 GPA student interested in business and consumer affairs, Hampson talks about the history of Dirtbags middle-infielders like a longtime supporter or college baseball aficionado. Bobby Crosby (1999) and Danny Espinosa (2006) are the only other freshmen to start as the Dirtbags’ shortstop. Crosby played eight years in the MLB, mostly for the Oakland Athletics, and Espinosa is hitting .300 for the Washington Nationals in his fifth season.


MLB All-Stars Evan Longoria and Troy Tulowitzki top the list of prestigious infield alumni and Hampson says he’s been watching and modeling his game after “Tulo” for years.

“I don’t have his size, but I admire his instincts and enjoy watching him play,” says Hampson. “You don’t have to have size to be successful in this game. You need instincts and heart.”

Earlier this month against No. 17 UCLA, Hampson’s heart and instincts stole the show in an extra-inning battle.

In the top of the fifth inning with a runner on second base and two outs, Hampson dove behind the second base bag to keep a seeing-eye single from becoming a run-scoring hit. The next batter grounded out on the next pitch to end the threat.


In the top of the eighth with runners at the corners and two outs, a chopper back up the box bounced off starting pitcher Andrew Rohrbach’s glove and rolled to the hole on the left side. Hampson, who broke on the initial contact, adjusted mid-sprint and barehanded the ball with one foot on the ground. In one fluid motion, he shifted his weight and gunned it home for fellow freshman catcher Daniel Jackson to slap down the tag.

Hampson answers his accolades with a smile and a nod, knowing his role as a freshman on a veteran Dirtbags team.


“I’ll speak my mind when I have to, but this is my time to learn,” he says.

Hampson, who also has a team-high 25 hits, nine doubles, and 25 runs scored, will keep leading off and learning for the Dirtbags (16-18, 3-3) this weekend as UC Santa Barbara (23-8, 4-5) comes to Blair Field for a series that starts at 6 p.m. tonight.

Long Beach State is currently tied for third place in the Big West Conference behind Cal Poly, UC Irvine and Cal State Fullerton. The No. 3 Mustangs (31-5, 8-1) and No. 19 Titans (18-13, 3-3) could still be within striking distance when they come to Blair Field at the end of the month.


“We know what it takes,” says Buckley of the tough conference schedule. “We can look good against (UCLA) but it’s about consistency. That comes down to myself, our preparation and that locker room. We’ve got the guys with the experience to get right and execute.”

The series against UCSB will continue at 6 p.m. on Friday and conclude at 2 p.m. on Saturday.


Reno Baseball Pictures
Reno Baseball Pictures
Reno Baseball Pictures
Reno Baseball Pictures
Reno Baseball Pictures
Reno Baseball Pictures
Reno Baseball Pictures
Reno Baseball Pictures
Reno Baseball Pictures
Reno Baseball Pictures
Reno Baseball Pictures