Brian Hamm begins his first season at Eastern Connecticut State University after recently wrapping up his ninth season at the helm of the Amherst baseball program. He now boasts an overall record of 221-113. He led the team to their fourth NESCAC Championship in 2018 and a trip to the NCAA Division III Regionals.
During his tenure as head coach, Amherst Baseball has experienced the winningest period in its 156-year history, including three-straight NCAA Division III Championship appearances, a feat accomplished for the first time in program history. The team has also finished within the top-three in the Division III New England Regional Rankings in 2014 and 2015 and sixth in 2016, while the Class of 2015 concluded their careers as the winningest class in Amherst College baseball history with 107 wins. In addition to success at the league, regional, and national levels, Coach Hamm has produced four of the past seven NESCAC Players of the Year as well as multiple professional players.
During his first five seasons as head coach, Hamm’s teams set program records for most wins in a single season (30), highest batting average (.349), and lowest team ERA (3.12). His first recruiting class (Class of 2014) became the winningest class in program history with a .705 winning percentage and 105 wins. The 2010 team left its mark on the program’s record book with one of the best offensive seasons in Amherst history. Amherst set a school record for single-season batting average (.349) thanks to eight players with at least 50 at-bats hitting .330 or higher. In his second year, 2011, Hamm was named the 2011 NESCAC Coach of the Year. His 2011 and 2012 teams won back-to-back NESCAC West Division titles with a combined mark of 48-20. In 2013, Amherst won the NESCAC Championship earning an automatic berth to the NCAA Tournament. In 2014, Amherst returned to the NCAA Tournament after tallying 28 regular season wins. During this five-year period, Amherst is 12-4 against archrival Williams, completing the three-game series sweep in 2011, 2012, and 2013.
Following their careers at Amherst, Hamm’s players have experienced success in professional baseball. During the past six years, six players have signed professional contracts. Drew Fischer ’18 (drafted by the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2017 MLB Amateur Draft) and Mike Odenwaelder '16 (drafted by Baltimore Orioles in 2015 MLB Amateur Draft) both signed professional contracts after their junior year at Amherst. Bob Cook ’13 (Alpine Cowboys -- Pecos League) now with the Pirates organization, Kevin Heller ’12 (drafted by Boston Red Sox in 2012 MLB Amateur Draft), Mike Samela ’12 (Worcester Tornadoes -- Can-Am League), and Ryan Healy ’11 (Moncton Mets -- New Brunswick League) also went on to have successful careers playing professional baseball. Others have gone on to play professionally in Europe while many of Hamm’s former players and student interns have also gone on to work for Major League Baseball and in baseball operations for MLB organizations.
While Hamm’s teams have had great success on the field, they have also distinguished themselves in the classroom and the community. Over the past eight seasons, Amherst has placed more players on the NESCAC All-Academic Team than any other NESCAC baseball team. Meanwhile, the baseball team is actively involved in the college and local communities.
In 2015, Hamm oversaw the first major renovation of the baseball facility at Memorial Field in over fifty years. In addition to a resurfacing of the infield, the upgrade includes new dugouts, backstop, press box, and batting practice facility. He is also credited for increasing the baseball team’s diversity. As one of the most racially, socio-economically, and geographically diverse college baseball teams in college baseball, the make-up of the baseball team reflects that of the College’s student body.
In the summer of 2014, Hamm led a contingent of Amherst faculty, alumni, and baseball players to Japan as part of the Amherst-Doshisha Baseball Cultural Exchange. The two-week exchange visited Kyoto, Sendai, and Tokyo where the team played three games, put on a clinic for students affected by the 2011 tsunami, and were guests at the Japanese Foreign Ministry.
Prior to becoming head coach, Hamm served under legendary Hall-of-Fame coach Bill Thurston as his top assistant at Amherst for four years. Before that, he spent three years as an assistant coach at Middlebury College, his alma mater. Hamm also served as an envoy coach for Major League Baseball for three years, working with amateur and professional teams in Europe. In the summer of 2009, he worked as a roaming instructor for the Dutch and Spanish Baseball Federations, coaching with junior national and national teams, and evaluating their development programs. At the 2009 American Baseball Coaches Association (ABCA) Convention, MLB honored Hamm with the Julio Puente Envoy Coach Award, which is awarded to the envoy coach who most epitomizes excellence in coaching and player development in international baseball. He is the youngest coach to have received this award. Hamm has also served as a trainer for the Stanford University-based Positive Coaching Alliance (PCA), as well as an associate director for Be Your Own Coach, an organization that has worked with MLB’s San Francisco Giants and St. Louis Cardinals.
Hamm was a two-sport captain at Middlebury, graduating in 2002. During his senior year, he was honored with the John P. Stabile Memorial Award for leadership, academic scholarship, and athletic achievement. He was a four-year starter at shortstop for Middlebury’s baseball team, and a three-year starter in goal for the soccer team, where he earned both all-conference and all-region honors twice in soccer.