IF THE PHILLIES are going to make a run at the postseason—they were five games back in the NL East through Sunday—they'll likely be led by All-Star lefty Cole Hamels, he of the slugger-freezing changeup. The 17th overall pick of the 2002 draft, he came within nine outs of a perfect game against Milwaukee this year. So, perfect he's not. But charmed? He was 11--4 with an NL-best 126 strikeouts, he's married to a Playboy cover girl, and, oh, yes, he's 23.
This is an article from the July 23, 2007 issue
On his fan club, the Cole Miners
They dress up. They have the hats with the lights, and every time I get out of an inning or strike a guy out they start digging like they're miners with a [pick]ax. It's funny. Philly fans love that stuff. For Flash [reliever Tom Gordon], it's superheroes. They dress up like Superman, Spider-man, the Flash, Ninja Turtles. They go nuts.
On how he learned his devastating changeup
Growing up near San Diego, everybody threw 94 miles an hour. I needed to develop something to make my fastball effective. My high school pitching coach [Mark Furtak] taught me the circle change, and I messed with it over the years. The arm action I use comes naturally.
On a surgical enhancement
I broke my pitching arm [humerus] in a game when I was 16. I heard a snap, like a broken tree branch, and the ball went straight up. When I came back, my changeup was better. The doctors said, as a joke, that when they put my arm back together, they turned it a little bit. I laughed, but my changeup was dropping more.
On ColeHamelsFacts.com, a collection of humorous, made-up "facts" about him submitted by fans and modeled on the famous chucknorrisfacts.com
I first heard of it last year. Fans were mailing me facts. I didn't know what they were, but they were funny. I posted them in my locker, and everybody started reading them. [Phillies starter] Adam Eaton came up with "When Cole Hamels kneels to say his bedtime prayers, he overhears God thanking himself for creating Cole Hamels." [Reliever] Clay Condrey has one: "The HOV lane was created for Hamels and his changeup."
On meeting his wife, Playboy model and Survivor contestant Heidi Strobel
She had an appearance when I was in A ball in Clearwater [in 2004]; it was Survivor day at the ballpark. I [went] to get her autograph, and I asked her out. She said yes, if I'd come to Missouri—Springfield, where she's from. I flew out two weeks later. We went to a concert and a movie: Cellular. I still have the movie-ticket stub. We got married last New Year's Eve.
On what he was like at Rancho Bernardo High
A dork. Really shy. I'd hang out in the athletic group and was a bit standoffish. I didn't date anyone because I was focusing on baseball and that's what I did every day. Then I'd go home and play computer games.
On his parents
One reason I was shy in school is that my dad, Gary, is a school district assistant superintendent, and my mom, Amanda, is a teacher. Every teacher knew them. If I ever did anything wrong, they could just hit speed dial. I never did, though. The last thing I wanted to do was disappoint my parents.