addiction

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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There are must-read stories, and then there's this incredible story on 'The search for Jackie Wallace'

There are must-read stories, and then there's this incredible story on 'The search for Jackie Wallace'

Ted Jackson calls the response to his story on "The search for Jackie Wallace" unreal.

Yeah, you might say that.

As of the moment I'm typing this, Jackson's Twitter post sharing the story has been retweeted 127,641 times and received 273,000 likes. 

"This might be the most amazing bit of reporting I've seen in years," veteran religion writer Bob Smietana said in his own tweet. "There are stories that haunt journalists for years. This is one of them."

This is one of those cases where, if you insist, you can keep reading my post. Or, and I promise  you won't hurt my feelings if you choose Option No. 2, you can proceed immediately to the story in question and devour it just like Smietana and I did. It really is that good.

I mean, there are must-read stories, and then there's this incredible tale.

It's a lengthy read but so, so worth it. Here's the nuts-and-bolts summary from the Times-Picayune, the New Orleans newspaper where Jackson worked as a staff photographer for 33 years and won a Pulitzer Prize:

A New Orleans football legend reached the pinnacle of the sport.
Then everything came crashing down.
This is the story of his downfall, redemption — and disappearance.

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This opioid addiction recovery program relies on the 12 steps. So why didn't Washington Post mention God?

This opioid addiction recovery program relies on the 12 steps. So why didn't Washington Post mention God?

We're going to do a little opioid-related ghostbusting today.

As regular GetReligion readers know, our journalism-focused website is built on the premise that "millions of Americans who frequent pews see ghosts when they pick up their newspapers or turn on television news.

"They read stories that are important to their lives, yet they seem to catch fleeting glimpses of other characters or other plots between the lines. There seem to be other ideas or influences hiding there," editor Terry Mattingly wrote when GetReligion launched in 2004. 

"One minute they are there. The next they are gone. There are ghosts in there, hiding in the ink and the pixels. Something is missing in the basic facts or perhaps most of the key facts are there, yet some are twisted. Perhaps there are sins of omission, rather than commission.

"A lot of these ghosts are, well, holy ghosts. They are facts and stories and faces linked to the power of religious faith. Now you see them. Now you don’t. In fact, a whole lot of the time you don’t get to see them. But that doesn’t mean they aren’t there."

Many of our faithful readers have become quite adept at spotting these ghosts and sharing them with us.

Today's tip comes via email from a reader who is a long-term member of a 12-step program. It relates to this recent story from the Washington Post.

The Post's compelling opening:

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Faith is in details: Tragic death of Prince is a story about fame, health and, yes, religion

Faith is in details: Tragic death of Prince is a story about fame, health and, yes, religion

So the news is out that Prince died of an opioid overdose, if a quote from an anonymous law official "close to the investigation" can truly put this kind of information on the record.

That makes the death of this hard-to-label superstar a health story, which means -- since we are talking about a practicing Jehovah's Witness believer -- that his tragic death is also a religion story.

So as you look at the updated news reports on Prince, it's logical to see if they contain (a) references of any kind to his faith and (b) material about ways in which the practice of his Jehovah's Witness faith may have affected his struggles with his addiction and the physical pain that drove it. Believe it or not, the basic Associated Press story ignored all of that.

There are two potential levels of faith content. Reporters can simply say, Prince was a Jehovah's Witness, they are strange religious people who believe strange things about health issues (think a rejection of blood transfusions) and, thus, his beliefs helped cause his death. Or, (b) it would be possible for reporters to talk to experts on this faith, ask specific questions about the legal and illegal uses of certain kinds of drugs, and then let readers wrestle with the results. As you can probably tell, I am pro option (b), since I love journalism.

So here is what readers are given by The Los Angeles Times:

According to authorities, Prince was last seen alive at 8 p.m. April 20, when someone dropped him off at Paisley Park. The musician was apparently left alone that night, without staff members or security.
Prince, a devout Jehovah’s Witness, was “a very private person,” said Carver County Sheriff Jim Olson. “I don’t think it would be unusual, for him to be there by himself.”

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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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Jackpot! Godbeat pro shows her winning hand

If you’re in a hurry, there’s no need to finish the rest of this post.

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