The MLB Story of the Year Gets Its Due: Hamilton Hits SI Cover
- Updated: May 28, 2008
Josh Hamilton dons the cover of this week’s SI — as damn well he should. Hamilton’s journey, albeit well-documented, does not get old for anyone who appreciates those great stories that transcend sport and remind us of that which people are capable.
For right now, Josh Hamilton’s story is one where the use of the word redemption is neither inappropriate, trite and/or irresponsible (as is too often the case). It’s a story where the phrase “life or death,” shockingly, does not take the form of throwaway cliche. His is a story where “down and out” truly is, or was. It’s also a story that gets better with every home run, ribbie and sparkling play in the outfield.
I first remember reading about Hamilton four years ago in a St. Petersburg Times article, and being immediately captivated by the tale of a former #1 overall pick, then a tattooed Devil Ray, trying to fight his way back from crack, alcohol and a host of other demons for a chance at the bigs. Shortly thereafter, his story would hit USA Today and even the casual fan could barely avoid casting half an eye, and half their hope towards Josh Hamilton.
Last year, Josh started the 2007 season for the Cincinnati Reds and received a standing ovation on his first trip to the plate. He had come a long way for certain. He would play in 90 games for the Reds last season, hitting an impressive .292, along with 19 home runs and 47 RBIs.
In only 53 games in 2008, the now Texas Ranger leads the Majors with 58 RBIs. He’s fourth in the AL in average at .324 and second in the AL in homers with 13. This week’s SI story referred to him as “the natural,” citing scouts who referenced Hamilton as they best they’ve seen. You can talk about Hamilton and Triple Crown without anyone giving pause to the notion.
If this was any other professional athlete, I might be seriously concerned about the famous SI cover jinx. But something tells me those mystical forces might be rendered fairly useless on Josh Hamilton.
Much like Andy Dufresne, Mr. Hamilton reached his spot on the Texas Rangers by crawling his way to freedom through five hundred yards of sh*t-smelling foulness I can’t even imagine. Or maybe I just’ don’t want to…
But I’ll tell you this. While it’s hard to ever come out “clean” on the other side after seeing, doing and living the things he did, Josh Hamilton sure does looks spiffy on that SI Cover. And it’s one cover we were pretty darn happy to see, too.
Best of luck the rest of the season 3-2.