Granny, whose full name is Granville Wilbur Hamner, joined the Phillies in 1944 as a 17-year-old during the Second World War. The Phillies were a terrible franchise before the war but couldn’t make headway during the war like their American League counterpart: the St. Louis Browns. Hamner was later drafted into the service. After his brief service hitch, Hamner was able to get the minor league seasoning time he sorely needed.
Up to the Majors to stay in 1948, Granny had an unspectacular first full season at the Major League level. He enjoyed a breakout year in 1949 when he led National League shortstops in base hits and doubles. His power numbers rose in the Phillies pennant-winning season of 1950 when he reached double digits in homeruns for the first time. The Phillies were overmatched in the World–indicated by a team batting average of just .203–but Granny hit Yankees pitchers at a .429 clip.
A free-swinger who rarely struck out, Granny fanned just 32 times during the 1951 season in 625 plate appearances. In 1952, Granny kicked off a three-year string in which he made the National League All-Star team. The NL’s leader in sacrifices in 1952, Hamner paced National League shortstops in homeruns (17) and RBI (87). He was one of just two Major League shortstops to reach 30 doubles during the ’52 season.
Hamner began to flip-flop between shortstop and second base in 1953. That year, he led Major League middle infielders with 92 RBI. He also posted career high totals in homeruns (21) and runs scored (90). As an everyday second baseman in 1954, Granny led Major League second basemen in doubles and RBI. He and the underrated Senator first baseman Mickey Vernon were the only two Major League infielders to post double-digit totals in every extra base-hit department during the ’54 season.
Hamner’s power numbers evaporated after the 1954 season as his power was non-existent during the 1955 and ’56 seasons. He experienced a power reawakening in 1957 when he led National League second basemen in homeruns and RBI, but his batting average had fallen to .227. Although he refound his stroke in 1958–raising his batting average up to .301–injury struck and limited him to just 35 games. He never again was a regular.
Granny spent some time in the minor leagues where he served as a player/manager in Norfolk and Binghamton before the Kansas City A’s gave him his last look in the Majors. As a 35-year-old veteran shortstop, the A’s never asked Hamner to pick up the lumber but used him as a knuckleball hurling relief pitcher in four innings. It was his last stint in the Majors.
G 1,531/R 711/H 1,529/2B 272/3B 62/HR 104/RBI 708/BB 351/SO 432/BA .262/SA .383/OBP .303