Monday, July 14, 2008

The Josh Hamilton Story

Twins first baseman Justin Morneau, much like he did when he beat out Derek Jeter for the 2006 American League MVP, edged out a fan favorite to win the 2008 Home Run Derby, with a total of five homers in the final round of competition. His opponent? Josh Hamilton, a baseball legend in the making, who battled demons that made lesser men of professionals like Dwight Gooden and Darryl Strawberry, players who made inspirational, championship-inducing comebacks with the Yankees that pales in comparison to what Hamilton has done these past two campaigns with the Reds and Rangers. Should the season end today, Hamilton would win the MVP award outright, in lieu of his flirtation with baseball's elusive Triple Crown, last achieved by Carl Yastrzemski in 1967. To add to these feats, Josh won over a fickle Yankee Stadium crowd with a Mantle-esque swing that crushed a ball measured at 504 feet. In the first round of this evening's slugfest, Hamilton hit a record 28 homeruns (four more than the previous record holder, Bobby Abreu, compiled in 2005), his accomplishment met by 58,000 lauding crowd members emphatically chanting his name, the majority of whom were Yankee fans, that, in all the years I have followed the organization, have never glorified the accolades of an opposing player so passionately. Hamilton, as he proclaimed himself in an article featured in an ESPN spread last year, wished for a better life, one he found through family, baseball, and belief in God. Upon bowing out in the final round of tonight's derby, Hamilton committed a task that was perhaps more arduous than any addiction or pitcher he has yet to face: he gave praise to God in front of a legion of new-found Hamilton followers, a wave that has reached some tens of millions in light of the show he put on at the derby. Say what you will about his past: as Hamilton continues to joust with addiction, he remains clean en route to one of the greatest baseball stories ever produced in the game's fabled history. With 95 RBI's and 21 homeruns to his credit thus far, Hamilton is sure to impress with a strong finish to the 2008 season, one that conveys sports' capacity to allow stories of the human condition to prevail.

1 comment:

Patrick said...

What was really cool was when he was on Flip That House or The Real Estate Pros (whatever it was called at the time). The president of Trademark properties had him help out on some flips while he was finding out if the MLB was going to let him come back. I am glad they did, and I'm glad he is now making his mark.
Not enough people end up doing the right thing, and this guy basically hit bottom, and in a few short years got his life and his game on track. He is truly what a sportsman should be- someone for kids to look up to, and he is doing it in spades
Excellent story!