It’s been around four years since I wrote about Courtney Hawkins’ time with the Sugar Land Skeeters. At the point in his career he’d been a first-round pick, been promoted, been demoted, been released, been hurt, and in not so nice words, been written off.
That’s the life of a professional athlete. But one thing you cannot say about Hawkins is his lack of resilience. A string of injuries plagued him from 2015-2017, nevertheless, when he was healthy, he was on the field.
He’s put on the uniform of more than 13 teams in 11 professional seasons. And still keeps putting up the numbers. The career year I wrote about in ‘18 has been eclipsed twice now, including this year where Hawkins has been going Aaron Judge on the Atlantic League pitchers.
At 28 and in the prime of his career, Hawkins matched the ATL record for home runs (Ozzie Canseco, 2000) with 48. His 125 RBI, 72 extra base hits and .655 slugging rank him second in the all-time ATL record books.
By far, 2022 is a year to remember. One of the greatest the ATL has ever seen. And yet proof again that Independent baseball can provide a platform for players to become their best selves.
There can be the naysayers with countless questions; why does someone keep playing? Their time has gone…what’s the point? You were a first-round pick and now you’re in Independent baseball?
The above isn’t just made up questions for filling space. I’ve been asked those questions personally about my career…players I’ve spoken to have told me they have been asked the same or even worse.
You can’t measure someone’s dedication or desire to do what they love.
And that’s the underlying message within the Indy game. These guys aren’t getting paid a lot, there’s not much fanfare, but everyone once in a while there’s a Courtney Hawkins. A guy who’s seen the good and bad that the game can provide and one day he sets the league on fire.
Congratulations Mr. Hawkins. A year for the record books!