Rancho Bernardo High pitching coach Mark Furtak was on his way back from Idyllwild on Saturday when Cole Hamels’ mother texted him and asked if he’d seen what happened.
Not having cell reception until that point, Furtak at first thought his former star lefty might have been traded.
Furtak knew Hamels was pitching that day, but could not have imagined the news he was about to receive.
“She told me that Cole threw a no-hitter, and I was like: Wow, I can’t believe it! With all the trade news, that was just something that I didn’t see coming,” Furtak told Times of San Diego.
Hamels no-hit the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field, the first no-no thrown there since 1972.
Furtak and his wife, Lori, had just dropped their daughter off at summer camp. Now they were celebrating another milestone.
Philadelphia starter Hamels may be a World Series MVP, but he still makes time for his old friend and coach.
Hamels grew up in San Diego and attended Rancho Bernardo High from 1998 to 2002 with Furtak as his pitching coach. Hamels was drafted No. 17 overall by the Phillies back in 2002, despite breaking his left arm during his sophomore year.
Scouts were still impressed with a prep lefty that had a fastball that could touch the mid-90s.
Ever since Hamels was drafted, Furtak has maintained contact with his former player, checking in from time to time to give Hamels advice — or give him a hard time about a bad start or just simply see how things are going.
Furtak, a former pitcher who attended Mt. Carmel High School then the University of Hawaii, knows how special it is to throw a no-hitter.
“That’s something that’s just not that easy to do,” he said. “You can get so close and have it all go away. So to actually go all nine, it’s pretty special.”
After the game, Hamels said throwing his no-hitter was up there with being named MVP of the 2008 World Series as his Phillies clinched the title.
As the July 31 trade deadline approaches, it’s likely that Hamels will be playing with a different team fairly soon, but before going he left the Phillies with one the most notable no-hitters off all time.
It was the first time that the Chicago Cubs had been no-hit since Sandy Koufax threw a perfect game on Sept. 9, 1965. Hamels’ 13 strikeouts were also the most in a no-hitter in Phillies history.
According to Furtak, it’s not the first time Hamels toyed with a no-hitter.
“I remember, it was his first game back after breaking his arm, and I told him he’d get 60 pitches to go out there and see what he could do,” Furtak said. “He ended up throwing a no-hitter through five innings and struck out 12 guys before we let the bullpen finish the game.”
While it’s unclear where Hamels might be playing during the end of this season, he has indeed increased his trade value at just the right time.
“He was starting to lose velocity, only throwing like 91 (mph), and I was starting to think he might be hurt,” Furtak said. “He made some good adjustments yesterday, he started to slow things down and his velocity was back up.
“This trade stuff has really been wearing on him. I know he’s really looking forward to it all being behind him. Yesterday was a really cool moment, though.”
While Hamels is far removed from his days at Rancho Bernardo, he still took some time to talk to his old coach about one of the best moments of his career.
“I just texted him and told him congratulations and all that stuff, I know his phone was probably blowing up with hundreds of messages,” Furtak said. “I was watching the recorded game while I was texting him, so he just said thanks and enjoy the game.”