Hamilton was ecstatic as she prepared to become the first Doncaster women’s baseballer to reach the milestone,.
But her world came crashing down the morning of the record-breaking game when her father, James, lost his battle with cancer.
“The whole week leading up to the game I was at the hospital every night, I couldn’t go to training to coach the girls because I was with the family,’’ Hamilton said. “When there’s a milestone in the team we all talk about it during the week and plan what we’re going to do but there wasn’t any of that kind of hype.
“It was a really hard day, the struggle, but also this amazing day and a huge milestone. It was a day where I’d be on this euphoric high then all of a sudden I’d think of my dad.
“It was a weird day, the biggest struggle of a day and a rollercoaster ride.”
A proud dad, James would’ve wanted his daughter to take to the diamond on her special day.
“He only ever came and watched me play once, I was playing for Victoria at Altona and he came to watch,’’ she said. “Dad was a tough man, ex-bikie, 6’7 and tough as nails and that day he watched he said ‘I don’t get that sport but, God you play really well’.
“He’s got photos of me playing for Australia in his house. He was very proud.”
Fittingly, Hamilton’s 300th game saw the Dragons pitted against arch rival Springvale and the sides played out a cracking contest with the Lions prevailing 8-7.
“We’ve always had that really good rivalry with Springvale, played so many grand finals against each other and it was such a good game, we just would’ve loved a win,’’ Hamilton said.
“Some of the Springvale girls played at Doncaster so it was a great day and so many people came down, heaps of past players, committee, it really was phenomenal.’’
The Dragons lair was abuzz as Hamilton produced what she described as one of her best performances in the past five seasons.
Team mates donned retro trucker caps with “SH29 300 games” splashed across them while the club canteen sold a stack of “Sam Hamilton’s 300th game chicken schnitzel rolls”.
She said the milestone allowed her to reflect on what the Dragons meant to her.
“I couldn’t see myself pulling on another jersey, I’d rather quit baseball than not play for Doncaster,’’ she said. “The club has had so much to do with my life and if it wasn’t for them, and them supporting me through all my coaching, I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to coach for 12 years.
“Originally I just wanted to play but it was actually the board that we’ve got at the moment, John Hollingsworth and those guys, who told me I was good enough to coach, that I could do it and they said ‘you’ve done everything and we back you 100 per cent’.
“It was through their support that I thought, ‘well, if the board and the players think I can do it then I’ll put my hand up and have a go’. I coached for the 10 straight years, had one year off coaching and now this is my second year back at it.”
COURTESY: Leader Newspaper