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Former West Ranch baseball player to be honored

Posted: March 20, 2014 9:44 p.m.
Updated: March 20, 2014 9:44 p.m.
Paul Hammons died of leukemia on Dec. 31, 2013 and will have his No. 6 retired by West Ranch.  Paul Hammons died of leukemia on Dec. 31, 2013 and will have his No. 6 retired by West Ranch. 
Paul Hammons died of leukemia on Dec. 31, 2013 and will have his No. 6 retired by West Ranch. 

There will be a No. 6 painted on the baseball field at West ranch High School today.

In the offseason, a No. 6 will be affixed to the scoreboard.

Paul Hammons was already part of West Ranch baseball’s history.

Now he will be remembered forever for it.

Hammons, who died of leukemia on New Year’s Eve — Dec. 31, 2013, will have his No. 6 retired today in a ceremony prior to West Ranch baseball’s Foothill League home opener at West Ranch High School.

Hammons was a member of the first graduating class in West Ranch High School history, the first varsity baseball team and the first varsity team to compete in the Foothill League.

“Paul, as far as baseball, is really known for two things at West Ranch — first is he hit the first ever over-the-fence home run in West Ranch varsity history at Pacifica (High) in Ventura,” West Ranch head coach Casey Burrill began.

“(Second) he was infamous for calling timeout while the pitcher was in motion and in his delivery. He did it twice to (former Hart High pitcher and current Cleveland Indian) Trevor Bauer. Bauer had enough. It was probably the first pitch he got in his second at-bat and (Bauer) threw a 90 MPH fastball right smack between the shoulder blades. He had a huge bruise — seems where the ball hit. It was a badge of honor. He bragged about how he got on base.”

Burrill said he and his coaching staff grew close to that first group of Wildcats, so he traced Hammons’ steps to UC Davis.

While at Davis, he told his mother LeAnn that he was feeling like he had a nagging flu.

He went to a clinic that ran tests.

“He called me a couple of hours later and said, ‘They’re transporting me to the hospital. They think I have leukemia,’” LeAnn recalled. “We drove five hours and by the time we got to UC Davis they gave him the diagnosis. It was May 11, 2012.”

It was just December 22, 2011, that he asked his sweetheart from junior high and classmate at West Ranch Haylee Arimoto to marry him when she arrived at the airport from Scotland on the return from studying abroad.

She said yes.

“He was just a really great guy. He was funny, always said he was the funniest guy he knew,” Haylee remembered. “Very sweet, outgoing, the one who was able to talk to everybody and anybody.”

LeAnn said Paul always kept things positive and talked about how this was just one journey in his life. The next would be with Haylee.

Paul was in the hospital for 72 days straight at one point.

He got out on Sept. 18, 2013.

He and Haylee married on Sept. 21.

He died just over three months later at the age of 24.

He will be celebrated, again, today.

“Overwhelmed,” LeAnn said the feeling is of having her son’s No. 6 retired. “Proud. Very proud and very overwhelmed.

“(He played baseball) his entire life. He started playing at 2 with the YMCA with a Velcro ball and glove. His dream was when he graduated from UC Davis, he wanted to go to law school and become a sports agent.”

LeAnn said his high school baseball program has been supportive from moment one.

They’ve never let him forget that he belongs to the Wildcats baseball family.

From now on, no one will forget.



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