LATHAM — It was a special night for two Shaker alumni Thursday, as MLB pitchers Jeff Hoffman and Tommy Kahnle both saw their jersey number 23 hung on the wall in the school’s gym before the team’s basketball game against Saratoga.
Kahnle, who graduated from the school in 2007, currently plays for the New York Yankees. He quickly became a star with the Blue Bison with his pitch velocity and dominated the competition in the years he played with the program. He attended Lynn University in Florida following his time in the Capital Region, and was drafted in the fifth round of the 2010 MLB draft by the Yankees, but was picked up by the Colorado Rockies during the Rule 5 draft in 2013. He made his major league debut on April 3, 2014. He played two years with the Rockies and then moved to the Chicago White Sox for nearly two seasons before being part of the trade that also sent Todd Frazier to the Yankees last August. He went 1-1 with a 2.70 ERA in 32 regular season appearances with the Yankees and pitched in seven games during the playoffs.
Kahnle said of getting his high school jersey number retired, “For sure one of the top moments I’ve had. I mean, if you think about it, getting a jersey retired at the high school you played at, you’re basically immortalized. It’s an honor.”
For Hoffman, who currently plays for the Rockies, he graduated the school in 2010, but he and Kahnle were never teammates. He played two years at the varsity level, compiling a 14 wins, the most in school history. Also, he was named all-Suburban Council in his junior year, going 7-0. In his senior year, he threw three shutouts in the postseason, helping the Bison reach the state playoffs. He went to East Carolina University and was selected in the first round of the 2014 draft by the Toronto Blue Jays and was traded to the Rockies while he was in the minor leagues. He made his debut in August of 2016 and compiled a 6-5 record with a 5.89 ERA this season in the major leagues.
“This is a great honor, I really appreciate them doing this for me and Tom, so we were really excited to come back, and it was awesome. They put on a great event,” Hoffman said.
Ironically, both players wore number 23, and now no Shaker baseball player will ever wear that number again.