Hamilton's life no longer a nightmare
Rangers All-Star slugger finds redemption on field of dreams
NEW YORK -- People impressed and inspired by baseball's most conspicuous performer keep suggesting that someone should make a movie about Josh Hamilton's life.But it has already been done, and it was called "The Natural."
Now, this isn't one of those trite Roy Hobbs references, another invocation of great innate talent.At the heart of the classic film is Robert Redford's celluloid character reappearing after a 15-year fall off the face of baseball. Hamilton's fall wasn't quite as long. The overall No. 1 choice of the 1999 First-Year Player Draft, by Tampa Bay, was down and out for only three years. But it was steeper and grimier. And his re-emergence, to dizzying heights, from essentially a three-year drunk, has been well-documented for an applauding and marveling audience. Both the awe and the audience have grown the past few days, along with the stage. The guy who a few years ago couldn't make it out of bed has made it in New York and, as someone once sang, if you can make it here, you can make it anywhere. Monday noon, sitting in a short-sleeved shirt that offered just a teaser into his road map of legendary tattoos, Hamilton's eyes sparkled as he held court in the Empire State Ballroom of the Grand Hyatt Hotel. He tirelessly, with unwavering energy, opened himself up to questions he has been answering daily for 18 months, since he appeared from the abyss in the 2007 Spring Training camp of the Cincinnati Reds. "I'm sure a lot of you get tired hearing me talk about it," Hamilton said, the biggest "it" in the room, a two-letter summary of drugged stupor and drunken binges. "Being on this stage means a lot, but being clean today is the biggest thing. Sharing that with more people is what I feel like I'm here for. Not the baseball." Hamilton is asked what a typical night would have been for him on July 15, 2005 -- three years before the 79th All-Star Game, which he will start in Yankee Stadium's center field, and 10 weeks before he would crawl to his grandmother's front door at 2:30 in the morning and cry for redemption.
|"I was just ... it was making bad decisions. I could sit here and say it was being young and having money. But when you come down to it, I had good values and decision-making skills. I just didn't use them properly."|
|-- Josh Hamilton|
Tom Singer is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.