EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

May 19, 2013

Around the Horn with Andrew Hamel, Central Catholic baseball

Michael Muldoon
mmuldoon@eagletribune.com

---- — You know a coach is fond of a player when he ends the interview with “I could go on and on about him.”

Central Catholic baseball coach Marc Pelletier called his star pitcher Andrew Hamel “the consummate team player” and “a terrific leader.” He added, “His blue-collar work ethic will get him to the next level.”

The pitching speaks for itself. He’s 4-1 with a 2.99 ERA in 38 innings.

In this week’s Around the Horn, Hamel talks about the big win over Chelmsford, his plans to do a post-grad year, why he’s such a good Santa Claus and what happened to his brother’s “missing” gear.

You must be sky-high after your complete-game shutout in the Chelmsford showdown? “We went out with the mindset it’s do or die. I knew it would be a huge win and that if I threw strikes that they’d have my back. Nobody wants to be down two games in the MVC. I knew I had to keep it down. They hit ground balls and we were able to get outs.”

What are your thoughts on this being your last season? “You have to go out and lead. I had the privilege of playing four years varsity. There is no more. ‘We’ll get them next year.’ You do it this year or you don’t get them at all.”

What’s your favorite personal athletic achievement? “Absolutely the other day (win over Chelmsford) was one of them. I think back to sophomore year, Coach Pelletier put me out with the bases loaded and no outs vs. Lowell, which was tearing up league. I got a 1-2-3 double play and a fly out.”

How are you doing academically? “My parents always put academics first. I think last term I had all A’s and one B-plus.”

Take us through your interesting basketball career? “I played freshman then JV. Junior year, because of what I wanted to do in baseball, I couldn’t make the commitment. Coach Nault demands 100 percent. I threw the shot put in track instead. This year I went out again and it ended up working out. I knew I wouldn’t be the 6th or 7th man, but it’s something I wanted to do.”

What’s been the lowest point of your career? “The beginning to middle of last year was a struggle. Against Andover, I gave up a few hits and we lost the lead. As an athlete, you know there are peaks and valleys. Sometimes it’s hard to see how you’ll get through. You just have to put your head down and work.”

I’ve seen you listed from 6-4 to 6-8, how big are you? “6-6, 250.”

That makes you the midget for your family? “Yeah! I never feel that tall with my brother, Tom, towering over me. He’s 6-10. My dad, John, is 6-3 and my mom, Cathy, is 5-11.”

You are doing a post-grad year at Phillips Andover? “My brother spent four years there. It was always in the back of my mind since sophomore and junior year. I don’t turn 18 until July 1. I think it definitely will help to get bigger, faster, stronger and maybe throw a little faster.”

Any thoughts on college? “My goal is Ivy League or NESCAC for baseball.”

Do you work? “At Canobie Lake for Sodexo. I bring stuff back and forth and sometimes work at the grill. I worked there last fall.”

With your brother on the team at Harvard, what was it like during March Madness? “It’s been awesome. I get a lot of gear from him. He brings it home and it mysteriously disappears! He’s loved every second of it and we have as a family. The upset this year (14th-seeded Harvard stunned third seed New Mexico) was awesome.”

Are you from an athletic family? “My dad was big into tennis, cross country and track at Central. I’m third generation at Central. My grandfather, Arthur Hamel, and my grandmother make it to as many as my games as they can.”

I’ve heard you’re a pretty good Santa Claus. “I happen to fit perfectly into (teammate) Anthony Licari’s Santa suit. The baseball team holds a Christmas party for the Weatherbee School. I play Santa and give out gifts. It’s awesome.”

What’s your dream job? “l’ve always been into aviation and aerospace engineering.”

Who’s your dream date? “I’ll play it safe. My girlfriend Felicia Pandelena.”

Is she related to the ex-St. John’s Prep star golfer and hockey player? “Yes, she’s Nick’s younger sister.”

What is your pet peeve? “People being overly loud and making a scene in public.”

Do you have a nickname? “It’s embarrassing. To teammates I’m The Wookie. Nick Gorski does a good Wookie call. I’m Andrew ‘The Wookie’ Hamel.”

Who do you follow on Twitter-Facebook? “LeBron James and a lot of Red Sox.”

Are you a Heat or Celtics fan? “I’m definitely a Celtics guy but LeBron is the most exciting out there.”

Do you have any pets? “We had a dog, Maggie, who passed away. Right now it’s just fish on the kitchen table. Your basic $6.99 betta fish.”

What is the most embarrassing song you have in your iPod? “A couple Taylor Swift songs, 22 by Taylor Swift.”

If you were named principal, what’s the first thing you’d do? “Probably get bigger desks. It’s definitely a struggle getting my knees under them.”

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Follow Michael Muldoon on Twitter under the screen name @MullyET.

THE WOOKIE’S FAVORITES

Group or singer: Brad Paisley

Song: Southern Comfort Zone

Book: Da Vinci Code

Website: Barstool Sports

App: Snapchat

Actor-actress: Leonardo DiCaprio

Movie: Inception

TV show: NCIS

Athlete: Kevin Durant

Food: Burgers at Fuddrucker’s

Car: Lamborghini, a big upgrade from my 2007 Prius

Restaurant: Olive Garden

Course in school: Physics with Mr. (Tim) Vaughan