Following in the footsteps:
The Panthers’ new head coach Nick Hammons has his dad Skip rooting for him
Nick and “Skip” Hammons in the dugout together at a game last year. Skip retired last year after 25 years as head coach, but still can be found at the games as Nick coaches. An event honoring Skip’s career will be April 27 at 4 p.m. at the baseball field at Snohomish High.
SNOHOMISH — In Major League Baseball, the team manager is often referred to as the skipper of the team, much like the skipper of a ship.
For the past 25 years Kim Hammons has been known as “Skip” from helming the Snohomish High School Panthers baseball team as head coach. That changed after last season when Hammons decided it was time to retire from coaching.
While the name Kim may no longer appear as head coach, the Hammons name does: Kim’s youngest son Nick took over as head coach this season, and while Kim no longer paces back and forth in the dugout, he is still at nearly every game watching from the stands.
Raised in Snohomish, Kim Hammons played four years of baseball at shortstop for the Panthers, then went on to play ball at Central Washington University. That
was followed by a stint in semi-pro ball with the Everett Orioles and the Everett Royals, both of which were the predecessors of the present-day Everett Merchants, which plays in the Pacific International League. Kim
also returned to teach at Snohomish High School and to coach, first as an assistant, then becoming head coach in 1992.
Nick’s path to head coach may not have been the same as his dad’s, but while Nick did not go on to play ball after college, the two were similar in a way.
Growing up with his dad as coach, Nick said he was always on the field and involved with the team even at a young age. Nick served as a batboy for the Panthers when he was in grade school and was on hand when the team won its first state title in 1998.
In high school, he played all four years at varsity covering the corners, as first baseman and third baseman. Nick was also a pitcher where he started for the state championship game at Safeco Field his senior year. The Panthers lost that game to Richland and finished second that year. The team and Kim would, however, take the state title the following year after Nick graduated.
With that much history around the program, and playing for his father, one could surmise that Nick would someday take over for Kim as head coach. That, however, was not what Kim or Nick would have envisioned as Nick grew up.
Kim said that as Nick was growing up, he was always a quiet kid who had trouble expressing himself in public. Even Nick says he would never have imagined that he would be coaching sports. That all changed after Nick graduated from college and returned to Snohomish to take a security monitor job at the school. Once Nick was hired at the school, Kim asked him to help out as an assistant coach.
After five years as an assistant coach, Kim said that he could see the experience helped Nick mature enough that maybe it was time to see about handing over the reins to his son.
“Being around him (his dad) everyday I was able to take from him and learn from him the values that he brought to Snohomish baseball,” Nick said. “I really looked up to him and that’s what made me want to be a coach.”
When Kim announced that he was stepping down, Nick applied for the position, and after being interviewed, he was given the job.
While Nick may be younger and less “old school” than his dad, he still possesses the same philosophy when it comes to the game and coaching. Nick said the two both believe in teaching and following the fundamental rules of the game, and they both subscribe to the concept of “small ball” when it comes to offense.
Where the two differ is in the way they coach.
“I think as people we are a little more different in our approach,” Nick said. “My dad is a little more gray and a little more loose. I’m more black and white and like to be straight to the point.”
Nick is also a little more progressive than his dad, and was quick to take
an “out with the old and in with the new” approach after taking over, Kim said. One of the first things Nick did was to introduce new uniforms, which had been the same for more than 12 years. “I think the kids were tired of those old school-style sleeveless (uniforms) anyway. Besides they are getting pretty well faded and worn by now,” Kim said.
There will be a short pre-game event to honor Kim for his 25 years of coaching prior to the Panthers’ game against the Edmonds-Woodway Warriors at Earl Torgeson Field at Snohomish High School in Snohomish at 3:30 p.m. this Friday, April 27. Players who have played for “Skip” are encouraged to turn out for the event, with all of them lining up along the third base line as Kim will throw out the ceremonial first pitch. The public is also invited to attend.
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