Hammond Rides Improbable Season To Stardom
By Jeff Navin // December 28, 2012
SPACE COAST SPORTS HALL OF FAME
BREVARD COUNTY • MELBOURNE, FLORIDA – Former Melbourne High football standout Kim Hammond will always be a hero for Florida State football fans.
He was the first Seminoles quarterback to guide Florida State to a victory at Florida Field in Gainesville and is a possible nominee for enshrinement in the Class of 2013 Space Coast Sports Hall of Fame.
Hammond’s magical 1967 season was improbable.
Entering his redshirt senior season, Hammond wasn’t even supposed to be the starting quarterback. Gary Pajcic was the starting quarterback, and he was coming off a fine season where he completed 125 of 233 passes for 1,590 yards and eight touchdowns.
The Seminoles finished 6-5 after falling 28-20 to Wyoming in the Sun Bowl.
But Pajcic broke his arm and sustained an elbow injury, giving Hammond an opportunity to start FSU’s second game of the 1967 season. It also was Hammond first career start.
The opponent was Alabama with its legendary coach Paul “Bear” Bryant and future NFL quarterback Ken Stabler.
The Crimson Tide had not lost in their previous 21 games, were favored by 21 points and the game was scheduled for Legion Field in Birmingham, Ala. Most of the 71,299 fans would be rooting for Hammond to fail.
It didn’t happen.
Hammond completed 23 of 40 passes for 280 yards as the Seminoles earned a 37-37 tie. Ron Sellers, who later was Hammond’s teammate with the New England Patriots, caught 13 of those passes for 165 yards. In 1966, Alabama had given up just 37 points during the whole season.
Bryant was impressed with Hammond. In an account after the game, Bryant said, “He picked us apart like he was picking a chicken.”
The Seminoles then lost 20-10 to North Carolina State the following week at home. The Wolfpack finished the season ranked No. 17 after compiling a 9-2 record.
Florida State then reeled off seven consecutive victories under Coach Bill Peterson and offensive coordinator Joe Gibbs, who later was a Super Bowl winning coach with the Washington Redskins.
The Seminoles defeated Texas A&M 19-18 on the road, South Carolina 17-0 at home, Texas Tech 28-12 at home, Mississippi State 24-12 at home, Memphis State 26-7 on the road, Virginia Tech 38-15 at home and a 21-16 road victory against Florida.
Hammond’s 9-yard scoring pass to Bill Moreman and 1-yard quarterback sneak over the right guard for a touchdown helped Florida State build a 14-3 advantage. Hammond later was knocked out of the game with a possible concussion when he was pulled to the ground by his facemask.
Pajcic, who completed 6 of 11 passes for 73 yards, was unable to guide FSU to a score as Florida whittled the deficit to 14-9. Hammond then returned to the game and led Florida State on a three-play, 92-yard drive for a touchdown to increase the margin to 21-9. Sellers caught a 51-yard pass on first down and, one running play later, Sellers retrieved a 38-yard scoring pass from Hammond to give the Seminoles an insurmountable lead.
Hammond, who entered the game needing approximately 270 total yards to lead the nation in total offense, completed 7 of 12 passes for 157 yards. He finished second nationally in total yards.
During the regular season, Hammond completed 140 of 241 passes for 1,991 yards and 15 touchdowns. He added 83 yards rushing and two touchdowns on 56 carries. He finished fifth in the voting for the Heisman Trophy.
The victory against Florida gave Florida State a berth in the Gator Bowl. It also avenged a controversial loss from the previous season in Tallahassee.
Late in that game, Pajcic’s apparent 45-yard touchdown pass to Lane Fenner was negated when the trailing official said Fenner had caught the ball out of bounds.
In the Gator Bowl, the 6-foot-1, 190-pound Hammond set or tied six Gator Bowl records as FSU rallied from a 17-0 halftime deficit to tie Penn State 17-17. He completed 37 of 53 passes for 362 yards and one touchdown. He was named the Most Valuable Player.
In those days, statistics from bowl games were not included in a player’s career statistics.
Hammond was a second-team All-America selection by both the Associated Press and United Press International. Florida State also gave him the Crenshaw Award, an honor bestowed upon the Seminole player with the biggest heart. He was the first quarterback to win the award.
In the 1968 Senior Bowl, Hammond was named the Most Valuable Player.
Hammond was born on Oct. 12, 1944 in Miami and later moved to Melbourne with his family. He graduated from Melbourne High in 1963.
College freshmen weren’t eligible to play during that time period. Hammond was a redshirt as a sophomore during the 1964 season. He played for the first time as a redshirt sophomore during the 1965 season, completing 2 of 6 passes for 44 yards. He also ran once for a 3-yard gain.
In 1966, he completed 54 of 104 passes for 742 yards and four touchdowns. He also rushed for 34 yards on 25 carries.
Hammond finished his regular-season career with 196 completions in 351 attempts for 2,777 yards. He threw 19 touchdown passes and 15 interceptions. He added 120 yards rushing and two touchdowns on 82 carries.
In the 1968 Common Draft, when the NFL and the AFL still were separate leagues, Hammond was taken by the Miami Dolphins in the sixth round with the 142nd overall pick.
Hammond completed 13 of 26 passes for 116 yards during the 1968 season for the Dolphins. In 1969, he completed 2 of 6 passes for 31 yards as a member of the Boston Patriots. He did not play for the Patriots during the 1970 season.
At this time, Hammond already had begun classes at Florida State’s law school.
Hammond was a practicing attorney in Daytona Beach when he decided to give professional football another try in 1974 with the Jacksonville Sharks of the World Football League. The team was coached by Bud Asher, who later became the Mayor of Daytona Beach.
As a backup to Kay Stephenson, Hammond played sparingly until Stephenson sustained a knee injury on the final play of the third quarter in Jacksonville’s fourth game of the season against the New York Stars at Downing Stadium in New York.
On the first play of the fourth quarter, Hammond was hit hard by linebacker James Sims. On the next play, linebacker John Elliott sacked Hammond and knocked him out of the game with a concussion.
Hammond represented the Sharks’ players in litigation against the team and the league when the players were not paid for several weeks. The team later folded after posting a 4-10 record.
Hammond was inducted into the Florida State Athletics Hall of Fame in 1978 as a member of the second class.
In 1979, the Flagler Beach resident became a judge. Hammond later became the chief judge of the Seventh Judicial Circuit. He was an administrative judge in Flagler County when he retired on Jan. 3, 2011.