DP Spotlight: Heroes Do Exist – Josh Hamilton


 By: Austin Alexander – March 31, 2011

-Hamilton relishes role: Heroes do exist in 2011-

In this day and age, it is difficult to find a modern day hero that measures up to our image of what a role model should be versus what he is in reality.

I have been so fortunate to spend time recruiting, employing,  playing with, working camps with, coaching, some very good players, people. I have been fortunate enough to attend a ton of MLB games.

On Tuesday I took an afternoon/evening to be a dad that transcended everything before that time.

In the process I became a fan.

Coastal Carolina was set to play an exhibition with the Texas Rangers, not the minor league version, but Friday’s Opening Day lineup of players that were in the World Series just a few months ago.

Kinsler, Young, Beltre, Cruz, Andrus and some guy named Hamilton, among others…

The Coastal coaches were gracious enough to let my son and me enter the park with them, and grant our access to the ballpark before a sold out crowd rolled in. After my son spent a ton of time playing catch with anyone that would play along, it was pointed out that Josh Hamilton was in the opposite corner, just sitting on a shortened wall.

hamiltonjoshnolan4.jpgMy 5-year-old son and I walked over there just to speak, of course I had a camera in pocket. By the time we made our way over there, Hamilton was cornered by men in suits, but when he saw an awaiting child, he immediately excused himself and made my kid his priority.

I spend my life in baseball, and Josh Hamilton and I had rubbed elbows before, but he really had no idea who I was… or my son, Nolan. He asked Nolan a ton of questions for five minutes, Hamilton was as accommodating as anyone could be… much less for a decorated player of his stature. hamiltonjosh-ccu.jpg

Shortly after we left his inviting area, most of the CCU players (right) brought their balls, bats, pens, cameras, etc to the same corner of the ballpark. Hamilton spent the next 30+ minutes answering questions, sharing stories with them and engaging a swarm of players just wanting to talk baseball.

After my son was dragged from the clubhouse with a mouthful of gum, animal crackers and blue Gatorade… it was time for Texas’ BP.

Nolan ran out to leftfield, smacked Josh Hamilton on the hind-quarters and spent the next 15 minutes side-by-side with the reigning AL MVP and batting champion.

Josh Hamilton’s story is well-documented. Alot of people have had an acquaintance with him. Others may have their own opinion of him, that’s fine.

But in an age when heroes often fail you, should not be trusted, plus should be nothing more than just eye-candy for the team you root for, Josh Hamilton is a person that is gifted, has overcome the addictive odds, is comfortable being an icon and very comfortable in his skin. The guy has ZERO ego and is a very easy person to pull for.

I am not a huge fan of tattoos. However, Hamilton has been clear that his decorations are a reminder of where he has been. Fine with me! Largely because I am now of the belief that every young player, pro prospect, parent and/or person should have the opportunity to spend five minutes, five seconds in the presence of this guy.

Josh Hamilton is celebrated in every city that he arrives in. He is a Rock Star when he walks down the street. He is the poster child of a 5-tool player, a modern day Mickey Mantle…

But on a day where he was scheduled for two AB’s following a flight from Arizona, then right back to Texas, this guy took everything in stride and treated it like his first day in a baseball uniform.

When Charles Barkley states and, often times, proves that athletes should not be viewed as role models, it is really refreshing to see some superstars embrace the idea of being something bigger than themselves.

Thumbs up to a person that embraces his place in the game, even when atop the pyramid of baseball success.

His example is a good model for the rest of us that think we have accomplished something in baseball.