Tuesday, July 15, 2008


JOSH HAMILTON gave thanks to the Lord for his appearance in the State Farm Home Run Derby at Yankee Stadium last night.

Whether God was quite so pleased to have his peace disturbed by some of Hamilton’s towering fly balls is a matter of conjecture!

The Texas Rangers’ center fielder may not have actually won the competition. But with apologies to Minnesota’s Justin Morneau, his was the name on everyone’s lips leaving the Stadium after a very special night.

Hamilton’s 28 home runs in the first round eclipsed Bobby Abreu’s record of 24 and was a truly astonishing effort.

I don’t care how softly the ball is being tossed, you try hitting 13 straight homers, some of them over 500 feet.

Hamilton is having a phenomenal season for the Rangers. At the All Star break, he’s already hit 21 homers and has 95 RBIs.

You might think the Cincinnati Reds are kicking themselves for trading him to Texas last December, but one of the players they got in return just happens to be starting pitcher Edinson Vólquez.

Vólquez, like Hamilton, has been one of the finds of the season, going 12-3 with an ERA of just 2.29. So this was a trade that, for once, delighted both parties.

Let’s hope Hamilton doesn’t suffer from Abreu syndrome. Abreu’s home-run hitting markedly declined after his efforts in the 2005 Derby.

Who needs A-Rod after Hamilton's heroics?

Some players, notably the New York Yankees’ home run king Alex Rodriguez, repeatedly turn down invitations to compete because they feel it has a lasting and damaging effect on their swing.

Fortunately, Hamilton didn’t seem bothered by the consequences last night. He just let it rip – much to the delight of the fans.

The 27-year-old, the first overall pick in the 1999 MLB Draft by the Tampa Bay Rays, is a reformed character.

He turned to God to help him overcome addictions to both alcohol and drugs that blighted his early career. He didn’t play baseball at all from 2002 to 2006 after several unsuccessful attempts at rehab.

After a tortuous struggle, he finally managed to clean up his act when his grandmother confronted him.

He says he has been substance-free since October, 2005. That would appear to be the case as he is tested at least three times a week by Major League Baseball.

Hamilton is not shy to tell his story or share his faith. His appearances at the plate in Texas are accompanied by the song “Saved The Day”, performed by contemporary Christian rock group Phillips, Craig & Dean.

With the sport’s superstars turning their back on the Home Run Derby, Josh certainly saved the day at Yankee Stadium.

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