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No Joshing Around
by Tony Aubry, BaseballEvolution.com
May 3, 2007

You have heard the Josh Hamilton story, havenít you? You know, the kid who is playing for the Reds. You know who Iím talking about, right? Well, if you havenít thatís okay, because it appears Asher hasnít either, since he failed to mention in his article about the crazy April we just had.

Back in 2001, Hamilton was the next best thing (I remember this because I have his Topps rookie card). He was considered the top prospect in the Devil Rays organization. However, on July 10th 2002, he violated the sportís drug policy. He would then violate it again, again, and again. Hamilton, addicted to cocaine, appeared as if he would never fulfill his dream; to play major league baseball. In 2006 Hamilton decided to clean up his act, and he would finally be reinstated that July and played in 15 games with the Devil Raysí Class A affiliate, which was the first time he played professional ball in four years.

Josh suffered mightily in his short stint with Hudson Valley. The then 25-year old outfielder only hit .260/.327/.360 with no homeruns and had more than two times as many strike outs as he did walks. However, this didnít stop the Reds from giving him a shot this past spring training. When asked how he felt about the situation, and if he was nervous, he said he had ďmany sleepless nights.Ē Well, I guess insomnia doesnít bother Hamilton, as he hit a 500-foot bomb in his first game of the pre-season. For the rest of the spring, Hamilton continued to rake, as he hit .403 with 7 extra bases.

Finally, on April 2nd, Hamiltonís dream came true. He finally got to appear in a major league game, and even though he lined out in his only at bat, he received an ovation that was just as loud as the ovation as Adam Dunn or Ken Griffey Jr. would get. After the first game, Manager Jerry Naron was worried that Josh might not be able to perform off the bench, missing four games or more at a time. Well, you donít have to worry about things like that when you play just about everyday, which is just what Hamilton is doing. He has played in 20 of the teams first 25 games, which is just as much as future Hall of Famer Ken Griffey Jr. has played. To even think that this kid is giving Griffey a run for his money is mind boggling.

Up until May 2nd, Josh had hit .266/.375/.588/.963 with six homeruns, and was only two behind the National League leader, Jimmy Rollins (who would have thought J-Roll and Hamilton would be one and two in HR after one month?) What Hamilton is doing is unbelievable, and the fact that he has only played 15 professional games in the past four years prior to this season is just nuts.

Hamilton, now sober for 19 months and counting, has been the feel good story of the season. He has gone from not being able to go out to the corner store by himself to playing Major League Baseball, and has played it pretty damn well. If Josh can somehow keep this up, he will be with out a doubt be a Rookie of the Year candidate, and if he doesnít, it really doesnít really matter. Because for once, it not just about baseball. This is the story of a cocaine addict who has over came all the adversity he had to go through, pursued, and fulfilled his dreams. Keep it up Josh; Iíll be rooting for yaí.


Disagree with something? Got something to add? Wanna bring up something totally new? Tony resides in Queens, New York and can be reached at tony@baseballevolution.com.

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