Early on in the life of this blog, I declared Reds’ farmhand BIlly Hamilton as the fastest man in baseball. Possibly ever. Using some rudimentary math that admittedly had plenty of caveats, I found that they he would be running roughly 17.79 MPH while rounding the bases.
But then, last night, I saw the 30 for 30 documentary, You Don’t Know Bo, about Bo Jackson, the MLB/NFL great who may have gotten into the HoF of both sports if not for a freakish hip injury ended his football career and turned his baseball career into that of a more Dave Kingman-like slugger who could hit well for power but who’s lack of speed (he had a artificial hip, after all) and poor plate discipline cut it severely short of what it could have been.
What is the connection between these two? Well, it was mentioned in the documentary that Bo Jackson, during his NFL combine, ran a 40-yard dash in 4.12 seconds. It’s never been matched in the history of the NFL. By anyone. He would have to be averaging about 19.86 MPH during that dash. As mentioned, Billy Hamilton’s run around the bases (albeit a longer distance and thus likely bringing more fatigue as the run happened) was a “mere” 17.79 MPH. If Jackson could run 100 meters at about a 19.86 MPH pace (again, he probably wouldn’t have, given the differences in distance and the surface being run on, etc.), he’d run it in 11.26 seconds.
And, of course, that doesn’t take into account this.
So was Bo Jackson even faster that Billy Hamilton? Hard to tell, since the examples given about their speed are just so different and they came into being during different time periods (the training today is superior even to 20 years ago, after all). So the world will never know.
I think it’s safe to say that they are both faster than either of us, though. Heck, Bo Jackson now is probably faster than us.