The Short, Tragic Life And Career Of Tommy Hanson — Did Pitcher Die Of Drug Overdose?

Following the death of former Atlanta Braves pitcher Tommy Hanson, rumors have surfaced that the 29-year-old may have died of an overdose.

Though an autopsy has been completed, Hanson’s official cause of death hasn’t been determined and toxicology results, which could confirm whether or not Tommy died of an overdose, won’t be completed for another 12 weeks, the Atlanta Journal Constitution reported.

Hanson died suddenly Monday after falling into a coma and suffering “catastrophic organ failure.” The day before, Tommy was at a friend’s house outside Atlanta when the friend, named Brandon Bond, called 911. When fire and EMS crews and sheriff’s deputies arrived, Tommy wasn’t breathing. According to the Associated Press, sheriff’s officials typed “overdose” in a small section, called “crime incident,” in the resulting report on Hanson’s death.

Two people — a 40-year-old man and 36-year-old woman — were at the house and reportedly involved in an incident there, but neither have been charged with a crime.

Tommy Hanson died Monday night at Piedmont Hospital, where the sheriff’s department indicated a conversation took place that implied Hanson had been felled by a drug overdose.

“While at the emergency room the reporting officer was part of a conversation with emergency room personnel which led this officer to believe an overdose was a possibility. Law enforcement acknowledges this will have to be determined by medical personnel as to the cause of death.”

A police report on Tommy’s death doesn’t detail what drug Hanson may have been taking, if any, on Sunday. And though the report indicates an overdose as the cause, it doesn’t explain why authorities made that preliminary determination.

Foul play isn’t suspected and preliminary autopsy findings haven’t been released by the county coroner, Richard Hawk. He said they likely wouldn’t be until the toxicology report is finished.

“It’s sort of like a jigsaw puzzle, and you’ve got to have all of the pieces together to make a determination,” he said.

Tommy Hanson was once a promising pitcher, playing for the Braves from 2009 to 2012 and the Los Angeles Angels in 2013. However, his career slowly unraveled and the decline only worsened after the mysterious death of a step-brother, according to a profile on Hanson by Sports Illustrated.

The magazine called both his career and his short life tragic. A Tulsa, Oklahoma, native, Tommy’s love of baseball began as a child. He played baseball at Riverside Community College for a year before the Braves took him in and signed him in 2006. Early on, Hanson demonstrated his potential and he was named by Baseball America as the fourth-best prospect.

But it all began to fall apart in 2011. Hanson’s performance wavered and then a shoulder problem derailed the season. The Braves then traded him to the Angels and in 2013, Hanson’s contract with the team totaled $3.7 million. Just when things started to look up for Hanson, his step-brother died suddenly at 24. The cause of his death was never disclosed. Six days of bereavement leave wasn’t enough, and he took three weeks. When he returned, his game was never the same.

Last year, he signed with the Rangers but was cut, then injured. This May, he signed a minor league deal. SI noted that Tommy “seemed closer to the end of his baseball career than the major leagues as the 2015 season drew to a close.” Despite that, Braves President John Schuerholz said the team hadn’t forgotten him.

“He was a favorite in the clubhouse and with our staff and he will truly be missed by everyone in Braves Country. Our thoughts and prayers are with his wife, family, former teammates and friends.”

[Photo by Stephen Dunn / Getty Images]

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