We can’t think of any similar accomplishments in pro baseball: Last night Jon Hunton, director of player personnel for the Somerset Patriots, set a new Atlantic League record for saves.
It’s a very unique dual appointment in any sport: while there’s a long history of player-managers and player-coaches at every level of ball over the last century and beyond, you don’t see any other players-directors of player personnel, especially at a high-level league like the Atlantic League. But Hunton excels at both: last year the Patriots won the Atlantic League title and last night he set the career league mark for saves, at 135.
“As a competitor I’m always trying to win, but if I’m fortunate enough to be around great people that allow me to break records then that’s great,” said Hunton via press release. “I’ve been given the opportunity to come to Somerset where I grew up [in North Plainfield] and be the closer and that means a lot. I’m just fortunate to be with great teammates who allow me to be in closing situations which I love doing.”
We first saw Hunton in the summer-collegiate Northwoods League; he played there in 2003 and stood out among a fine group of players, including Ben Zobrist, Joe Bisenius and Thomas Diamond, once rated the #1 prospect in the Texas Rangers organization before suffering arm problems. He was drafted four times and ended up signing with the Chicago Cubs in 2004 and reached Triple-A in 2010.
Since then he’s done quite well in the Atlantic League, with 126 of his saves with Somerset while the other nine were with Long Island. Hunton broke Jim Ed Warden’s career Atlantic League saves record as he amassed 134 from 2010-14 with Southern Maryland. And that success extends to his front-office gig: this year the Patriots are 15-4 after winning the league title in 2015.
“It was extra special knowing I had my wife and seven-month old son in the stands to see me get the record,” Hunton said.
Image courtesy Somerset Patriots.