SCOTCH PLAINS/FANWOOD, NJ -- Varsity coach Joe Higgins and the current Scotch Plains-Fanwood Raiders celebrated Alumni Day on Saturday by welcoming back members of the 1988 team that featured former MLB All-Star Jeffrey Hammonds.
The event, originally scheduled to take place on the high school's varsity field, was moved indoors to the cafeteria due to the continuous rain that has soaked the area all week. Coach Higgins introduced returning players from the 1980s and more recent years, along with several former coaches.
Among the finest athletes ever produced at Scotch Plains-Fanwood High School, Jeffrey Hammonds earned baseball All-Conference and All-County honors in 1987, '88 and '89. He was NJ's Gatorade Player of the Year in 1989 and an All-American at Stanford, where he batted .380 and led his team to the 1992 College World Series.
In the 1992 draft, Hammonds was selected fourth overall by the Baltimore Orioles -- ahead of Derek Jeter, who was chosen by the Yankees. He played a dozen seasons in MLB with the Orioles, Reds, Rockies, Brewers, Giants and Nationals. He was an All-Star in 2000, when he hit .335 with 20 home runs and 106 RBI. For his career, Hammonds hit .272 and slugged 110 home runs.
At the event, Coach Higgins announced that the high school would retire Hammonds' number 11 -- one of several the outfielder wore -- upon his next visit to his alma mater. Additionally, Scotch Plains-Fanwood Baseball League plans to retire his number at a Booth Field ceremony next season.
Hammonds, who today serves as special assistant of player development for the MLB Players Association, had words of wisdom for current players.
"Your parents and friends support you, but remember your coaches, who help you develop as players (and as men)," Hammonds advised. "I was excited to hear that Coach Christadore would be here and looked forward to seeing my old teammates. You should appreciate having a coach like Coach Higgins, who remembered alumni players today."