Although he has been out of baseball since 2015, former American League MVP and five-time MLB All Star Josh Hamilton left his mark on the game and gave fans lasting memories.
With tonight’s Home Run Derby set to take place, it marks the 10-year anniversary of Hamilton’s incredible performance at the old Yankee Stadium where he hit 28 homers (a record) in the first round.
It was the greatest moment in the history of the Home Run Derby.
Then with the Rangers, after one season with the Cincinnati Reds, Hamilton had just made his first All-Star Game. All eyes would be on him due to his incredible comeback story.
Hamilton was selected No. 1 in the 1999 MLB Draft by the Tampa Bay Devil Rays and received a $3.96 million dollar signing bonus. His parents were still traveling with him to his Minor League games until a car accident after a spring training game in 2001 resulting in them leaving Hamilton on his own while they went back to their home to recover.
On his own, Hamilton started hanging around a tattoo parlor where he was introduced to drugs, which started the downward spiral of his hardcore substance abuse and causing him to be suspended from baseball.
After being out of the game for years, Hamilton got clean and got another chance at baseball. Hamilton capitalized on it and was selected by the Cubs in the 2007 Rule 5 Draft and then immediately traded to the Reds.
During his recovery though, Hamilton became a born-again Christian and had a dream (a premonition), while sleeping at his grandmother’s house.
“I had a dream that I was in Yankee Stadium and I was in the Home Run Derby,” Hamilton said in his book and in an interview with the New York Post. “And in the dream, I was just standing there at home plate and I was talking to a blond-haired lady, doing an interview,And I didn’t see if I had won, I didn’t see how many I’d hit, but I was just standing there at home plate talking to her.”
Fast forward to 2008, Hamilton electrified the Yankees fans by hitting 28 home runs, including 13 straight bombs on 13 swings and seven that were over 500 feet, all in the House That Ruth Built.
Hamilton hit 20 more home runs in the first round than any of his opponents. He advanced to the finals to face off against Minnesota’s Justin Morneau where he lost 5-3. Hamilton hit a total of 35 Home Runs in the competition while Morneau finished with a total of 22.
Hamilton may not have taken home the trophy but no one remembers Morneau from that night. It was all about that incredible round where the “Comeback Kid” made his dream come to fruition.