Josh Hamilton’s ‘blessing from above’

After one of the most incredible hitting performances in baseball history Tuesday night — including four home runs and a double — Josh Hamilton immediately gave credit to God.

The Texas Rangers slugger described his monumental performance as an “absolute blessing from above.”

Hamilton’s reference to his faith came as no surprise, of course, to anyone who has been paying attention.

I was curious, however, whether sports writers would allow the God angle to permeate their reports and columns on Hamilton’s feat — or permit ghosts to haunt their copy.

A quick survey reveals a mix of whiffs and solid contact (I focused on media outlets that don’t cover Hamilton every day):

• Swing and a miss: The Baltimore Sun — that newspaper that lands in GetReligion guru tmatt’s yard — took a big whack at the easy fastball:

There are few times when a visiting player comes to Camden Yards and puts on such a spectacular show that he turns the fans in his favor.

But Rangers slugger Josh Hamilton, the 1999 No. 1 overall pick who overcame the depths of drug and alcohol abuse to become one of the game’s top sluggers, orchestrated one of the most magnificent power displays in baseball history in the Rangers’ 10-3 win over the Orioles on Tuesday night.

But how did Hamilton overcome his demons? The Sun proceeded to tell a story completely devoid of any reference to Hamilton’s faith or even his quotes concerning his “blessing from above.”

• Solid single up the middle: Give The Associated Press credit for including Hamilton’s own words — his God talk — in its coverage:

“I think about what God’s done in my life, everything I did to mess it up,” he said. “To finally surrender everything and pursue that relationship with Christ on a daily basis and understanding when I don’t pursue it, I end up messing up. Understanding that what I’m doing and what God’s allowed me to do, coming back from everything I went through and allowing me to play the game at the level I play it, it’s pretty amazing to think about.”

And this:

Hamilton will become a free agent after this season, but that’s something he won’t deal with until the proper time.

“God gives me peace, man. I pray a lot. I want to be where he wants me to be,” Hamilton said. “If that’s Texas, I love it in Texas. And you know, I take it as far as day-to-day life, a one-day-at-a-time mentality not only for a recovering addict, but that should be for everybody. It’s one day at a time really because tomorrow is not promised and yesterday’s gone.”

• Long drive clears the fence in deep center: ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick nailed the story of Hamilton and the role of faith in his big night.

The top of Crasnick’s piece:

BALTIMORE — As a recovering drug addict and alcoholic, Texas Rangers outfielder Josh Hamilton has learned to abide by a relatively simple set of rules. He takes things one day at a time and lets his faith in Jesus Christ be a perpetual compass.

“I think about what God has done in my life, and everything I’ve done to mess it up,” Hamilton said late Tuesday night at Camden Yards. “What God has allowed me to do, to come back from everything I’ve been through and still be able to play the game at the level I play it — it’s pretty amazing to think about that.”

On those special occasions when Hamilton takes over the Home Run Derby at Yankee Stadium, or makes Baltimore fans who are so accustomed to dogging him stand up and cheer in unison, it’s time to look at the big picture. The casual fan has to marvel at a player who swings the bat with such ease and hits the ball so far, time after time. And the Rangers die-hard, who has more of a personal stake in Hamilton’s career path, can only guess what comes next and where his incredible story will end.

Hamilton treated a crowd of 11,263 to a show in Texas’ 10-3 victory Tuesday, setting an American League record with 18 total bases and becoming the 16th player in history to hit four home runs in a game.

Crasnick even allowed Rangers outfielder David Murphy to speak to his teammate’s faith:

Barely a month into the season, Hamilton is a walking endorsement for a free-agent truism: The price rarely if ever goes down over time. In this case, it’s true because he seems so oblivious to the stakes. His performance in 2012 is the polar opposite of a salary drive.

“Josh isn’t a guy who cares about money,” said outfielder David Murphy. “He’s put the Lord first, and everything else goes from there. You see a lot of guys play well in their ‘walk’ year before they go to free agency, and it’s obvious why they’re motivated. I think this is more of a coincidence than anything. You’re seeing a great player who is still getting better as a hitter. He’s putting things together and amazing us all as we speak.”

That’s a quick, around-the-horn look at the coverage I spotted. Your turn, GetReligion baseball fans: Any particularly exceptional or dismal stories that you’ve seen on Hamilton’s big night? Please be sure to include links.

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About Bobby Ross Jr.

Bobby Ross Jr. is an award-winning reporter and editor with a quarter-century of professional experience. A former religion editor for The Oklahoman and religion writer for The Associated Press, Ross serves as chief correspondent for the The Christian Chronicle. He has reported from 47 states and 11 countries and was honored as the Religion Newswriters Association's 2013 Magazine Reporter of the Year.

  • http://markbyron.typepad.com/main/ Mark Byron

    Good catch on Crasnick’s piece. I almost e-mailed you to praise his piece as an example of how to let the story flow without scare-quotes or snideness.

  • http://getreligion.org Bobby Ross Jr.

    Thanks, Mark! Appreciate you keeping this post from being totally comment free!

  • http://!)! Passing By

    Bobby,

    I appreciated your post, but haven’t had the time to do the reading which would give me something journalistic to say. I can tell you that the broadcast reporting I’ve seen (and not that much of even that) has been reliably faith-free.

    But, OMG! What about that Josh Hamilton! And those Rangers!

  • http://GetReligion.org Bobby Ross Jr.

    Thanks, Passing By.

    I am in the third deck behind home plate tonight and hoping the rain stays away!

  • http://!)! Passing By

    In the post-game interview with Hamilton, he brought out the “blessing from above” quote, which I found interesting since I’ve never heard him be explicitly religious in an interview. The broadcast commenters didn’t follow up or expand on it at all.

    Wait a minute… Bobby Ross Jr, journalist … Robby Ross, pitcher…

    Inquiring minds wonder about that sort of thing?


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