CINCINNATI -- Billy Hamilton is one of the fastest runners in the Major Leagues today, and the center fielder placed himself among some all-time speed royalty on Thursday in the Reds' 4-2 win against the Pirates.
In the bottom of the fifth inning after he hit a one-out single against Ivan Nova, Hamilton stole second base on a 2-1 fastball in the dirt. It gave him 200 steals for his career. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Hamilton reached 200 stolen bases in 424 games -- the fourth fewest since at least 1900.
Vince Coleman achieved the feat the quickest, reaching 200 steals in 280 games from 1985-86. Coleman is followed by Hall of Fame electee Tim Raines (361 games from 1979-83) and Hall of Famer Rickey Henderson (366 games from 1979-82).
Hamilton was not aware that he was closing in on 200 steals until Wednesday. Each day, assistant athletic trainer Tomas Vera tapes up Hamilton's leg and writes a message on it, which let him know something was up.
"It helps me from messing up my legs when I slide. He wrote something on it a couple of days ago that said '3 more to CC,'" Hamilton said. "I was wondering what it was. He said, 'Once you get to CC, then I'll let you know what it means.' The other day I got to 199, he said, 'One more to go.' I looked at him and said I knew what he was talking about."
"CC" is the Roman numeral for 200.
"Then I went and looked up some numbers," Hamilton continued. "It's good to be at that level at this point in my career right now. I've just got to keep going for it."
Hamilton, who debuted for the Reds in 2013, passed Edd Roush for seventh on the club's all-time list in stolen bases. Since that time, he leads the Majors in stolen bases as well and has been caught 41 times for an 82.9 percent success rate. This season, Hamilton is a Major League-best 16-for-17.
"In his first year, [Hamilton's] success rate in stolen bases wasn't great," Reds manager Bryan Price said. "What I've marveled at more than anything is what he's done in '15, '16 and '17. His success rate has shot through the roof."
Hamilton would love to have a chance to challenge Henderson, who owns the all-time record of 1,406 stolen bases.
"It means a lot to be up there with the greatest people in stolen bases," Hamilton said. "But it's something you've got to keep moving forward and keep getting more, there's a long way to go to get the record."
Mark Sheldon has covered the Reds for MLB.com since 2006, and previously covered the Twins from 2001-05. Follow him on Twitter @m_sheldon and Facebook and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.