In Game 6 of the 2011 World Series he essentially tore the cover off a baseball to put the Texas Rangers ahead by two in the 10th inning. In Texas, the theme music (leitmotif for you word-nerds) to The Natural plays when a Ranger hits a home run. The game was away, but when I think about that hit I hear the music. Like Roy Hobbs, Hamilton was playing injured (torn groin muscle). There really aren’t words for how Rangers fans felt watching that ball sail over the wall, but it could be seen. After Hamilton came back from rounding the bases and received his teammates’ congratulations he plopped down on the bench in the dugout. The camera crew did us all a favor when they captured second baseman Ian Kinsler walk up to him, grab his face and rub his cheeks with both hands because he was too overwhelmed to do anything else. That. That was what we were all feeling when his bat connected with the ball. The game and series didn’t pan out as expected->hoped->prayed->begged, but in that moment Josh Hamilton was the Rangers. Everything was on the line and he laid himself out completely.
There are countless other Josh Hamilton career highlights: four home runs in a single game, being intentionally walked with the bases loaded (this fact provided a sports-bet win for me), the fantastic outfield catches he made look routine, and the sheer number of go-ahead home runs he logged during that magical five year block he was a Ranger. The list could keep going, but eventually it would peter out just as Josh’s career seems to have. Another knee surgery needed and another release from the Rangers minor league system this week as he recovers. He hasn’t played in a Major League game since 2015 and this surgery really feels like goodbye, but there is a part of me that fervently hopes it’s not. He came back to Texas after that mess in Anaheim. I want him to succeed if not for himself and his own peace of mind, then for us. I want our Roy Hobbs back even if it’s for the chance to just say goodbye for real.