News out today that Josh Hamilton is this year’s Most Valuable Player in the American League will gladden a lot of hearts hereabouts, where Josh played kids ball in west Raleigh, excelled as a pitcher and hitter at Raleigh’s Athens Drive High School and went on to build a career that has resulted in All-Star and World Series appearances.
Josh’s story is not the typical American success saga. But it isn’t all that unusual. Like many before him, he overcame adversities – in his case a self-induced drug problem – to thrill crowds with his athleticism and brute power with the bat.
I worked as an umpire as Josh was growing up and got to know him to be one of the most level-headed kids on the diamond – any diamond. Combine that with his size and talents, and you’ve got a winning combination that caught the attention of baseball writers, who chose him for the award over Miguel Cabrera, Robinson Cano and Jose Bautista.