PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Cole Hamels and Ryan Howard played together for nine and a half seasons.
Together, they helped the Phillies to five straight NL East titles culminating with a 2008 World Series Championship.
Hamels, now 15-5 with a 3.32 ERA with the Texas Rangers, reflected on Howard’s legacy ahead of what is expected to be his final series with the Phillies this weekend.
“He was a tremendous presence, one of the nicest guys you can ever meet,” Hamels told Angelo Cataldi and the 94WIP Morning Show of Howard on Friday. “Definitely been able develop such a really good relationship with him on and off the field since then, we’ve had a great time. You really have to take it and look at, just a wonderful human being. One of the best ever earlier in his career and obviously I know injuries take a part in all of us and eventually you’re not going to be able to have the same results that you did. And I know the expectations kind of always go with that, but the way that he’s been able to deal with it. You have to really look at him — the adversity that he’s gone through and just the way that he’s still stays one of the genuine, true, stand up guys. It just something said about his true character.”
Listen: Cole Hamels on the 94WIP Morning Show
Despite Howard’s home run leading seasons, all-star game appearances, and five-year, $125 million contract, Hamels says he never changed.
“He never changed,” Hamels said of Howard. “He was the same guy that I meant when he was in his early twenties. We’re in the minor leagues, scrapping guy. Same guy, gets in the big leagues, he’s the same guy. Obviously you get a big contract, a lot of things are able to happen and he’s the same guy. And you have to credit Philly because they look for those type of players I think when they draft. And every single guy we played in that 2008 team, they all had that same type of personality.”
At 94-65, the Rangers have clinched the American League West, meaning Hamels will head to the postseason with the Rangers for the second straight season. Hamels, the 2008 World Series MVP, says playoff baseball in Texas isn’t quite the same as it was in Philly.
“It’s a little bit different,” Hamels said. “I think just for the fact that Philadelphia is a full baseball town when we were playing there. I know everybody mentioned Philadelphia was this football town, but I think when we came up and we started winning it became a baseball town and that was just absolutely one of the best things to experience. Seeing the sell outs over and over, the last week of the season seeing the towels come out. Seeing Phillie red around city, you could feel the vibes. You loved it. Everyday you woke up the adrenaline was pumping for the game.
“Texas is still — I mean, the Cowboys are always number one. You’re always going to compete with the Cowboys. You’re gonna compete with the football…but it’s just a different little vibe that the east coast has on sports in general versus the midwest and the west coast.”