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Josh Hamilton--First Person (March 21, 2008 - 3:27 a.m.)

I confess.

I read Sports Illustrated.

But mostly only the articls about baseball.

And the only reason I subscribed was to get the premium gifts that they offered after last year's Red Sox sweep of the Rockies in the World Series.

And also, just in case anyone needs to know...I gave the "Swimsuit Issue" to a co-worker without even cracking the cover. So there. :p

Anyway...the point of all this is one of the features in this weeks issue, which is, sadly, mostly about blechsketball (March Madness, doncha know). There's this page in each issue called "First Person," where they give brief quotes from a player about stuff.

This week's player was Josh Hamilton, the new centerfielder for the Texas Rangers. I'm actually going to type in the entire thing (probably breaking every copyright law in the known universe) because I found it somewhat moving. Especially the first one. So, here goes...Josh Hamilton, Rangers Outfielder.

On overcoming his addiction to drugs, including crack and cocaine, which derailed him after he went No. 1 to Tampa Bay in the 1999 draft
I had gotten married (in 2004), and a year later I realized that when I was out using, my wife, Katie, was home praying for me, even when she was pregnant or with the kids. That's when I decided to finally get clean.
(At this point, I'm wiping tears from my eyes...I've met this guy. He's genuinely glad to be given a chance to play again.)

On the trade to Texas after hitting 19 homers as a Reds rookie last year
I was at home (in Raleigh) with my wife and two daughters. We had just finished dinner when Wayne Krivsky, the Reds' general manager, called and said they wanted to send me to Texas for a physical. I'd heard rumors. The next day I flew to Arlington. I was excited that a team needed me and wanted me.

On no longer doubting himself
I really realized I could still do it when I was taking batting practice (at Cincinnati's spring training camp last year) with guys who'd been there a while, and I just hit. I was doing as well if not better than they were.

On a favorite moment
Pinch-hitting in the eighth against the Cubs at Wrigley. We'd had a rain delay. It was bright in the stands, and I couldn't see well. I fould a couple off, 2 and 2. Then I stepped out and said, "God, I need some help here. I can't see anything. I know I said I'd never bring you into games, but just a little help." I hit a bomb over the centerfield wall.

On his favorite part of the game
Runner on third and one out, and a guy hits me a fly ball. I see the ball coming, see the runner. I hear guys saying, "He's tagging, he's tagging." I catch the ball, throw it, and hear the crowd building up. Then there's the play at the plate, and the catcher catches it and tags him out. That's the best feeling.

There you go. I'm actually looking forward to watching this guy play this year.

TTFN, y'all!

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