Josh Hamilton

Josh Hamilton returns to Texas Rangers for induction into team's Hall of Fame, and faith is key

Josh Hamilton returns to Texas Rangers for induction into team's Hall of Fame, and faith is key

A decade ago, “The Unbelievable Josh Hamilton” was one of the biggest stars in baseball — with one of the most amazing, complex stories.

The real-life tale of Hamilton was full of major-league demons linked to his battle with drug and alcohol addiction.

For the first time in years, Hamilton — once the subject of so many posts here at GetReligion — returned to the baseball spotlight over the weekend.

In advance of his induction Saturday night into the Texas Rangers Hall of Fame, Hamilton wrote a mostly sugarcoated first-person account of his time in Texas for The Players’ Tribune.

The most intriguing part of Hamilton’s account is that before trading for the troubled player, Rangers general manager Jon Daniels sent scouts to listen to Hamilton tell his redemption story at churches:

I had no clue at the time that this was going on. So unbeknownst to me, when I was up there talking about my struggles with drugs and alcohol, and my faith, and just sharing my story … I was actually, in a way, auditioning for what turned out to be one of the most amazing experiences of my entire life.

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Prodigal son Josh Hamilton's return to the Texas Rangers: What role is faith playing?

Prodigal son Josh Hamilton's return to the Texas Rangers: What role is faith playing?

As I mentioned in my first GetReligion post five-plus years ago — and a few zillion times since then — I am a big Texas Rangers fan.

Last week, my three children and I drove down to Globe Life Park in Arlington and enjoyed Josh Hamilton's first two games back with the Rangers:

By Sunday — when Hamilton hit a walk-off double against the Boston Red Sox to cap a spectacular first weekend back in Texas — we were back home in Oklahoma.

Why do I bring up the Rangers and Hamilton here at GetReligion? 

Because where Hamilton is concerned, faith is a huge angle. Way back in 2008, Evan Grant, who covers the Rangers for The Dallas Morning News, wrote:

SMITHFIELD, N.C. - Faith. It comes up often in the story of 26-year-old Joshua Holt Hamilton. It's virtually impossible to tell his story without mentioning his Christian faith. He'd prefer you not even try.

Faith, he regularly testifies, has put him back in baseball after four years of addiction problems so ugly you can't blame his family for not wanting to relive them. Because of faith they do - to churches, youth groups and halfway houses.

If Hamilton could shake his habit - it included downing a bottle of Crown Royal almost daily and cocaine and crack cravings so strong he burned through a $3.96 million signing bonus - and finally get to the big leagues last season, there had to be a reason.

But in the wake of recent drama involving Hamilton — his drug relapse over the winter, his impending divorce from his wife, his trade from the Los Angeles Angels back to Texas — I haven't seen anyone ask the slugger about God. (I did see a gold cross hanging from his neck after his jersey was ripped off in the celebration after Sunday's win.)

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Preach, Brother Leitch, Preach!

Please check out this column from my favorite sportswriter Will Leitch. (And I’m not just saying that because he’s a die-hard St. Louis Cardinals fan like myself.) His latest piece for Sports on Earth, headlined “Thank God for Homers,” takes on the curious way that some other sportswriters handle Josh Hamilton’s religious utterances.

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