These last few days have been some of the hardest of my life. It is possible that what I am typing might not be posted. Sportsblog, Facebook, I love how I could tell people exactly how I feel, but words won't do it justice.
I'm 41 years old. In late 2003, I met two amazing people. 1st a woman who became my wife, and then a guy who became my radio partner and turned into my best friend. Today, I witnessed the burial of that friend.
Darryl Hamilton's death isn't what I want to write about. I want to tell you the best things that I have experienced since learning the awful news that he was killed on Father's Day.
I met Darryl and we hit it off. He was an excellent baseball player. 13 year career. .291 lifetime BA. on 14 big league errors. 1st ever interleague hit. He never shut up about that one. He knew I despised interleague play and even agreed with my stance but would never say it publicly because it would diminish that 1st hit.
The 1st time we had an extended conversation, my cell phone rang. It was my girlfriend/future wife. He asked me for a picture, and when he saw it, he said the words "Stay hot!" to me for the 1st time. After a lengthy debate, and a lot of alcohol. "Stayin' Hot w/Seth & Bone" became the name for our show.
At the funeral, his childhood friends, who have now become my friends. Told me "Bone" was not his 1st nickname. At the Memorial Service on Monday in Houston, esteemed Manager and great person Dusty Baker delivered the eulogy, and said that his nickname evolved over his life. He was 1st "Little Ham." Then "Ham." Then "DHam. When he reached the majors, he became "Hambone." And then that turned into "Bone." I knew Darryl during the "Bone" chapter of his life.
His childhood friends stuck with him. He coached a Little League team and the kid players all showed up in uniform. I saw Jimmie Lee Solomon, Bob Watson, Tim Purpura. They all talked about the man who never stopped smiling. He smiled and he made other people smile.
We hosted that radio show for MLB Radio. That became the single greatest experience I ever had professionally. I've loved a lot of the places I've worked, some more than others. But Stayin' Hot was the single funniest thing. Anyone who heard remembers the laughter.
I learned a lot of things, that they don't teach you in school. I learned what the worst crime in America was (Black on Black crime). I learned how to "keep the line moving." Darryl told Barry Bloom to "look at the damn camera!" He discovered what a "Lessbias" is. Learned about the hex he put on the Mets. He made me feel like a big shot, and he knew I taught him a lot about broadcasting. He had shirts and hats and mugs made. (Baby Dolls T-Shirts too). He made sure we stayed at better hotels than the company we worked for wanted us to. He made sure we went to great restaurants. He loved to tell me about a new car he got. He gave me his old golf clubs, so he could re-acquire them whenever he came to NY. He loved telling me that "You were right!" in a tone that ruined the thrill of actually being right. Of course there is no justice (Since Dave retired). He had a basement that had 3 televisions, so he could watch 3 games at once. That golf simulator.... he acted like his parent just took him to a toy store for the 1st time. I told him that if the Mitchell Report asked me any questions about Darryl I'd sing like a canary. I could make him laugh on a dime: all I had to was
He died on Father's Day. Turns out I was in Houston on a layover from my flight home from Sacramento. I thought about calling him, but it was Father's Day, and we had made plans 4 days later. Of course I wish I had called. The timeline from the crime scene said that I was in Houston exactly when it happened. My friend Jonas was trying to book him for his FOX Sports Radio show Monday morning. He might have been the last person to interact with him.
Back in 2007, when he got the job at On-Field Operations we ended Stayin' Hot. I moved on to do many things. He did too. But our friendship not only didn't end. It grew closer. He was there when I became a parent. He met my little Sophie (and yes, asked if I'd ever shown my kid a black person before). I met Donovan & Julien, his kids, whom I hugged today and told me I had many stories about their Dad. I even met the baby Jaxon, and my heart went out to that little boy.
I have memories of him at my wedding. I remember dinners, lunches, hanging out. We did a Stayin' Hot podcast together in 2011. We knew we didn't own the rights to the name, but we hoped that the folks at MLB would hear it enough to tell us to stop. We did Stayin Hot on Spreecast in 2013. I introduced him to FOX Sports Radio when I was there. I had him on Sportsblog 2 months ago. Any project I got involved in, he was always a part of. We were on MLB Network together in February of this past year, a show that I appreciated then, just because the chemistry returned instantly, not knowing it was one of the last times I would work with him.
The phone calls never stopped. The complaints about our lives, the talks about people we liked and didn't like. His political rants, that actually got me watching Meet the Press. When Barack Obama was elected, he was so proud. We never stopped talking. He told me about his adventures, about his kids. He discussed his divorce privately, and even the woman who cowardly ended his life. I don't know if I knew him better than anyone else, I tend to doubt that. But no one knew him exactly like I did. He knew it. That's different from a spouse or a family member. Its unique, and he was it.
When my dad was in the hospital a few years ago, he was always checking on me. He played golf with my mother-in-law. When he got divorced, we hugged and said that the best thing about us, is we never had to sign a friendship agreement.
But I haven't told you the best thing about the funeral. I had never met his mom. I met his brother, his kids, but since I got married and he was at our wedding, he met my whole family. I had never met his mother.
She has been particularly devastated by Darryl's passing. It's her son, what can I say. I went to introduce myself, to this charming lady. She was crying with someone else as I approached her. As I walked up to speak to her, he face lit up. She stopped sobbing. She smiled and said "I know who this is! Seth Everett it is such a pleasure to meet you!" Turns out, Darryl told her about me. A lot. She wanted to meet me on the day she buried her son. She knew about the show, my life. I didn't know what to say. I felt honored, and pure happiness. The great Darryl Hamilton told his mom about me! That few minutes with Mrs. Hamilton was worth the flights, the agony, the pain. He really was my brother from another mother.
A few weeks ago, I was cleaning out some stuff in my basement. I found these boxes, with hundreds of Stayin' Hot shirts and hats, etc. that had been given to me when the show ended. I called Hambone/DHam/Bone and told him I was going to donate them. He wanted it to go to an African country like Ethiopia because he loved the idea of a small village walking around in Stayin Hot clothing. An hour or so later, he texted me. He asked me to save him 2 of all the stuff. I asked him why he wanted it, being that we both had all the stuff from years ago. He never explained why, just reiterated the request. That pile of stuff has been sitting in my office at home. I can't touch it. When I saw Darryl's kids, ages 14 & 11, I realized I'm going to send it to them. If Darryl's character was passed on to those kids, then I want to be their cool white uncle. They will be a part of my life.
I had promised not to say it publicly, but after the memorial service on Monday in Houston, I went to Baton Rouge. His amazing brother John told me they would be honored to have me at he private family funeral & burial. I had to make the trip. It was private, so I laid off Twitter. But I buried my best friend today. That's a sentence I never thought I'd say out loud, let alone write it down.
Safe for me to say, I never attended a Southern Baptist church funeral. Darryl would have cracked up and wanted me to say "Amen" when the Preacher said something. When we got to the cemetery, the heavens opened up. If you believe in spirits, then the downpour at Darryl Hamilton's burial was something supernatural. The whole place felt like a swamp. The rain was coming down so hard. I have a new appreciation for what the people of Louisiana went through 10 years ago during Katrina. From all the stories Bone told me about Baton Rouge, I saw it all first hand. It made the whole scene surreal. But I hugged his family, his childhood friends, and was a Hamilton for a day. An honor I will cherish my whole life.
I'm not sure why I'm writing this. I think its just because I wanted to tell the story about his mother. But I also want to know that I'm motivated to make him proud. I'll miss the lunches. The Phone calls, the words of encouragement. The Support he gave me when I made mistakes. If you have a friend who can do that, then you are truly fortunate.
I will honor his memory in ways I haven't even come up with yet.
If you had told me back in 03 that i would have this person in my life, and lose him in 2015, I'd still do it. My life is so much better because my touch with greatness was with Darryl Hamilton. Not the ballplayer. Not the broadcaster. The man they call Bone.