I didn't know Tommy Hanson any more than running into him once in an elevator after a Braves game. I was wearing my Braves jersey and hat still, as I'd dropped a friend and sat in traffic forever. It was 2 hours after the game was over, and I think he was shocked to see anybody still in gear at my building, where he lived at the time.
I didn't recognize him at all when he walked on in all his 6 foot plus lanky red-headed form, in street clothes with 2 Budweiser tallboys in a grocery bag filled with ice. Mostly, I don't recognize any sports figures out of uniform because I'm just not that in tune with what they would look like as normal people, and not people I see on the TV all the time.
He took a look at me, and asked me how I was doing. I said fine, and that I was happy the Braves won that night. He wasn't pitching at the time. Then I remarked how pissed off I was about the Phillies continuing to win and spoiling our fun. This was 2011 so we were destined to finish in 2nd place behind those hot Phillies who won over 100 games.
He laughed heartily at my Phillies comment, and said, "Man I feel that." I thought he was a nice guy and I left the elevator wishing him a good night. It was 10 steps to my apartment when everything clicked. That I'd just commented on hating the Phillies with Tommy Hanson. I laughed to myself and went to bed, wishing I'd had something cooler to say.
That was my lone experience with the man, and he's gone today. I'm sad for that because he was such a promising young talent that obviously had some demons that got in the way. No young talent should be snuffed out before their 30th birthday, but whatever happened in Tommy's life whether it was self-inflicted or just a medical problem, I wish he had continued to get a chance to follow his dream of pitching in the majors. I worry about his family not only having lost one son, but his brother as well earlier in the decade.
While it's just a stupid one story about a chance meeting in the elevator, I felt today would be the day to post it. I remember Tommy today, and I hope he's found happiness and peace wherever he is now, and that his family can recover from their pain and wounds someday without falling into despair.