Josh Hamilton makes a great story even if you put aside his ability and achievements on the field. A recovering drug addict and alcoholic, sometimes baseball and his ability to produce is the second thing people think of when they hear his name. But not on perfect nights like these. Not when he hits four home runs and breaks the AL record for total bases reached.
The Rangers have been good, as expected. Hamilton? Great, as expected, despite moving back to Center Field. Against the Orioles and a disappointing attendance of under 12,000, Hamilton even got a standing ovation from fans that usually don’t treat him very kindly. When you’re only the 16th players to achieve what he achieved in Oriole Park, that deserves quite the applause.
It kind of made me think of European fans and sports, and how something like this would never happen when rivals met on the soccer pitch or the basketball court. But that’s a topic for a different subject. There’s something about the history and tradition of the game that reflects better in Baseball than in other sports. Maybe because it struggles to fit with the changing times, and any chance of reaching greatness with context to the glory days of the game is a cause for celebration.
Hamilton reached 14 home runs on the season with his quadruple, starting in the first inning off of Jake Arrieta. He hit another off of Arrieta in the third inning. Arrieta was off in the 7th inning, and Hamilton got to hit another off Zach Phillips and in the 8th off of Darren O’Day. All of his home runs were 2-run homers.
Maybe it was Baltimore. The Rangers won 10-3, their 7th straight win over the Orioles. They’ve scored 78 runs off of them, dating back to last season. Maybe the lack of hope of actually beating the Rangers, despite the Orioles 19-11 starts, sent so few to the park.
Hamilton joins a list of 15 players, including Willie Mays and Lou Gherig to hit four home runs in one game. The last one to do it was Carlos Delgado in 2003 when he was still with the Blue Jays. In 2002 two players made the magic happen – Shawn Green, who congratulated Hamilton, and Mike Cameron.
More numbers? Along with Matt Kemp, Hamilton is the only player to hit at least 12 home runs in the first 30 games of the season. The last time at least two players in the league started off things like that was in 2006, with Albert Pujols, Carlos Lee and Jim Thome. He’s also the first Ranger, since the franchise moved to Texas, to hit 12 home runs in the first 30 games of the season.
Hamilton looks dead set on another AL MVP title and another run at the World Series, this time a succesful one. Many worried upon hearing he had a relapse before the season begun. But his faith in himself and god seems to be taking him to good places, the right places, for him and his team.
Understanding that what I’m doing and what God’s allowed me to do coming back from everything I went through and allowing me to play the game at the level I play it, it’s pretty amazing to think about. It’s like anything else; you do something good or something incredible happens, it takes a little bit for it to sink in. I think when I get away from everybody and I have some time to myself, I think it might then.
Hamilton currently leads the AL in batting (.405), Home Runs (14) and RBIs with 36. His .458/.840/.1298 also leads the AL in all categories.