AVG - .308
HR - 118
RBI - 425
Joshua Holt Hamilton is a Major League Baseball outfielder currently playing for the Texas Rangers. He is best known for overcoming a drug addiction to reach the Big Leagues with the Cincinnati Reds in 2007. He often gives credit to God for his successful turnaround.
After recording a .529 batting average and 13 home runs in his senior year at Athens Drive High School, Hamilton was selected by the Tampa Bay Devil Rays with the first pick of the 1999 Amateur draft. The Rays chose him over Texas high school pitcher Josh Beckett due to Hamilton's strong character. Hamilton attended church regularly and would kiss his grandmother before his games. The team felt Hamilton was a player they could build their team around and gave him a then record $4 million signing bonus.
Prior to the start of his third professional season, Hamilton was involved in a car accident. He suffered a back injury that caused him to miss most of the 2001 season. While rehabbing in Florida, Hamilton was introduced to drugs by people he met in the area. Hamilton: "When I first got into drinking and using drugs, it was because of where I was hanging out, it was who I was hanging out with. You might not do it at first, but eventually, if you keep hanging around long enough, you're going to start doing what they're doing." After several failed drug tests, Hamilton was suspended by MLB for the full 2004 season. The following year he took a job with a Christian baseball academy known as Winning Innings. He used the time to get off of the drugs and attempt to resume his baseball career. Hamilton did enough to convince MLB to allow his return. He got into his first game in four seasons, appearing in fifteen games for the 2006 Hudson Valley Renegades. That December, Hamilton was moved to the Cincinnati Reds.
Despite limited game action since 2002, Hamilton showed no rust, hitting six home runs in his first month with the Reds. He finished the year with 19, good enough for fifth on the team. His comeback earned him national attention. Hamilton, on the reason for his success: "How am I here? I can only shrug and say, 'It's a God thing.' It's the only possible explanation." With outfielders Ken Griffey Jr. and Adam Dunn, and top prospect Jay Bruce, the Reds opted to trade Hamilton to the Texas Rangers in exchange for pitcher Edinson Volquez.
Hamilton built off his strong first season by hitting 21 home runs over the first three months of the 2008 season. For his strong play he was named a starting outfielder for the AL in the 2008 All-Star Game at Yankee Stadium. He participated in the Home Run Derby along with players such as Lance Berkman and Ryan Braun. Although he didn't win, he was able to hit 28 home runs in the first round, which set a single-round record. He finished the 2008 season with a .304 batting average and 32 home runs, earning him a silver Slugger Award and a top seven finish in the AL Most Valuable Player voting.
- ESPN the Magazine special on at-bat songs