After earlier reports indicated that former big league pitcher Tommy Hanson was fighting for his life in an Atlanta-area hospital, it emerged tonight that Hanson has passed away at just 29 years of age.
Heartfelt wishes have streamed in from around the game as friends, fans, and former teammates and opponents have learned of the unthinkable news. MLBTR joins them in extending its sincere condolences to Hanson’s loved ones.
The big righty lost his life in the same city where he had his greatest successes as a baseball player. He broke into the league with the Braves at just 22 years of age after streaking through the minors as a heralded young talent.
Hanson’s life meant far more than the memories he created on the ballfield, of course, but that doesn’t mean his pitching feats aren’t also worth celebrating. A towering presence on the mound, Hanson quickly established himself as one of the brightest young hurlers in the majors. He finished third in the 2009 National League Rookie of the Year vote and followed that up with 200+ frames of 3.33 ERA ball in 2010.
Despite that early-career excellence, Hanson’s career faded after he experienced shoulder trouble in 2011. Never reliant on an upper-nineties fastball, he nevertheless struggled to adapt as he lost velocity. Hanson ultimately played with the Braves for four seasons in total, the last of those coming in 2012.
Hanson returned to his native California that winter after being traded to the Angels, seemingly receiving a fresh start. But things did not turn out as hoped, as Hanson dealt with the tragic death of his younger brother and was unable to re-discover his form on he mound. While that time with the Halos represents his last big league action, Hanson kept trying to work his way back, spending time with the Rangers, White Sox, and (most recently) Giants organizations over the last several years.
Not much is known at present about the root issue that led to Hanson’s untimely death, with reports indicating only that he was in a coma after experiencing “catastrophic organ failure.” But it matters little. At base, it is simply sad beyond words for any person to pass on at such a young age.
Zach Klein of WSB-TV Atlanta reported the news as it emerged at his Twitter timeline.