The Natural: Part 2

Evan Glantz

Call me a sap, but I love a good comeback story. Maybe that’s why I’m so entertained by Alex Rodriguez’s bounceback year.

But Josh Hamilton, the outfielder for the Texas Rangers, has always intrigued me. And the latest chapter in his story is incredible.

In case you’re not familiar with Hamilton’s roller coaster of a career, here’s a brief summary:

–          He was the first overall pick in the 1999 MLB Draft by the Tampa Bay Devil Rays.

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–          Despite showing promise in the minors, Hamilton developed drug and alcohol addictions.

–          He was out of baseball from 2004-2006 due to a variety of drug-related suspensions as well as legal issues.

–           In 2007, the Chicago Cubs selected Hamilton in the Rule 5 Draft and promptly traded him to the Cincinnati Reds.

–          After being traded to the Texas Rangers prior to the 2008 season, Hamilton became a first-time All-Star. He participated in the Home Run Derby and set a record with 28 home runs in the first round. He would hit a total of 35.

–          Suffered his first reported alcohol-related relapse in 2009.

–          Won the 2010 AL MVP Award.

–          Signed with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim prior to the 2013 season for $125 million over five years.

–          Voluntarily reported a relapse to MLB in February 2015. The Angels want nothing to do with him.

–          The Angels trade Hamilton back to the Rangers.

It’s a story that would make Roy Hobbs stand in admiration. Hamilton has seen it all during his time in baseball. He’s been a budding star and a bust, a hero and a scapegoat. But somehow, he keeps battling back to do the incredible.

In his first at bat of his first game back in Arlington, Hamilton roped a double. The next night he launched his first home run of the season. Two innings later he followed it up with another longball. To cap off his first series back home, Hamilton hit a pinch-hit walkoff double on Sunday to lift the Rangers over the Boston Red Sox.

The guy certainly has a knack for the dramatic.

It’s a shame that drugs and alcohol took away so much of Hamilton’s promising career early on. And who knows what kind of effect the years of abuse have had on his body and abilities.

But this is a story that goes well beyond the box scores. Less than 10 years ago, Hamilton hit rock bottom when he showed up on his grandma’s doorstep at 2am, strung out after a night of partying.

In the time since, he has been selected to five All-Star games, won a Most Valuable Player award, played in a World Series, and achieved many other successes both on and off the field.

We all have struggles that we deal with on a daily basis. Some are more severe than others. But Hamilton’s story is one that can offer hope and inspiration to anyone facing those struggles. You don’t even need to be a baseball fan.

Hamilton has been cheered for his feats on the field. But it’s his accomplishments as a person that deserve a standing ovation.