Originally posted on The Baseball Page  |  Last updated 5/9/12

Last night Texas Rangers slugger Josh Hamilton hit 4 home runs. Hamilton thumped the Baltimore Oriole pitching staff adding a double to his 4 home runs of the night to set the American League's single-game record for total bases with 18. Texas won last night's game 10-3. 

After the game Hamilton told reporters,"Obviously it's, other than being in the World Series, the highlight of my big-league career." A career most who knew his behavior pattern said, "he'll never make it in big-league baseball - he's a "head case - drunk - druggie, bent on self destruction. They were right. Josh Hamilton couldn't stay away from bars, booze, broads, and drugs. He had natural "God" given baseball talent but from the time he was the number one draft pick of the Tampa Bay Devil Rays in the 1999 MLB draft he spent more time in bars than in the batter's box. Tampa paid him a staggering $3.96 million dollars signing bonus. he played in the Ray's minor leagues for part of the 2000 season then was sidelined with injuries. The 2001 season marked the beginning of Hamilton's very public drug and alcohol use. He played only 45 games in A-Ball before going into rehab. His troubles stayed with him into the 2003 season when he showed up late several times during spring training. Hamilton now and again resurfaced during the 2003 season but eventually he took the rest of the season off for personal reasons. From 2004 to 2006 Hamilton didn't play baseball. Several attempts at rehab proved useless. Family, friends, baseball people, no one could help Josh Hamilton get his act together. Most people in baseball gave up on him. "God Protect's Fool's and Drunk's!" .......

By 2007 Tampa gave up on Hamilton. The Chicago Cubs picked him up and immediately traded him to the Cincinnati Reds for $100 thousand. The Reds had to keep him on their roster for the entire 2007 season. He was one of their best hitters during spring training, leaving camp hitting .403. He finally made his major-league debut on April 2,2007 against the Chicago Cubs in a pinch-hit appearance, receiving a 22 second standing ovation. After he lined out, Hamilton stayed in the game to play left field. Troubled by a series of injuries during the 2007 season the Reds traded Hamilton off-season to Texas on December 21,2007 for Edinson Volquez and Danny Herrea. In 2008 Josh Hamilton locked up the Rangers starting center fielder job with a stellar spring training. In the month of April he led all major league players in RBI's. He hit .330 with 32 RBI's and was named player of the month. Hamilton hasn't stopped since. He's one of only six ML players in the history of baseball that's been walked intentionally with the bases loaded. Tampa Rays manager Joe Maddon ordered his pitcher to "put him on base," willing to walk in a run than allow Hamilton the opportunity to clear the bases.

By all accounts Josh Hamilton shouldn't be playing Major League baseball. Shouldn't be alive. Hamilton's struggles with drugs and alcohol well documented. He finally got clean after being confronted by his grandmother. The Rangers made special arrangements to help their star stay clean. They hired Hamilton a full-time "baby sitter" to stay by his side day and night when he's not on the playing field. His wife doesn't allow him to carry credit cards or cash when he's away from the house or her. But these measures haven't always worked. He's Josh Hamilton. He can walk into any bar or strip joint and be recognized instantly and never needs to pay for anything. He's like a spoiled child in a candy store. He wants to sample everything. 

Hamilton never shy's away from telling his story, speaking to groups and fans how Jesus brought him back from the brink and that faith keeps him going. His teammates also help him stay clean. During their 2010 World Series celebration they replaced Champagne with bottles of Ginger Ale. 

On February 2,2012 Hamilton suffered a slip with alcohol. He claims to have had 2-3 drinks before inviting his friend and teammate,In Kinsler, to talk at the bar. Th next day Hamilton held a press conference to apologize for his actions. 

Josh Hamilton's still fighting his demons - in the process he's showing the world what a great athlete, great hitter he is. I don't know of anyone who's not pulling for him. His story's what movie's are made of. His story an inspiration to every person hooked on alcohol and drugs. At the age of 31 Josh Hamilton continues to battle his "demons" and "95" plus mile fast balls. We know he's conquered fast balls. Lets pray he conquers drugs and alcohol.

"God Protect's Fool's and Drunk's!......................


"Upton on Sports"-source: wikipedia/nytimes/

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