Book reviews was always an element I wanted to add to the site since its inception. For some reason or another, I never got around to it until now. Maybe it just took the right book. Josh Hamilton’s book just came out, and it’s called Beyond Belief: Finding the Strength to Come Back. I was pretty harsh on the media for their overbearing display in regard to Josh Hamilton at the Home Run Derby. While I don’t disagree with what I wrote at the time since it was directed towards the media, all those gaga feelings started to come back when I read the book.
To start, Tim Keown did an excellent job taking Hamilton’s story and putting it into words. His sentence structure and syntax made it an excellent and smooth ride. Hamilton’s story took care of the rest. I think what really sets Hamilton apart as you learn in the book, is how great he was as a young kid. As a six-year-old, he apparently was so good he was playing on his brother’s 11-12 year-old team — and producing. He was groomed to become a baseball player, working out and practicing constantly. As an 18-year-old when he was first drafted, he beat Jose Canseco in a home run derby during one of Tampa Bay’s pre-game batting practice sessions. The kid could hit 500 foot home runs in high school. He was just awesome. Superhuman. After taking you from his childhood background through the time he was drafted and the first couple years in the minors, the book then starts to get inside Hamilton’s head to see what led to his downfall.
A back injury following a car collision with his parents left Hamilton unable to perform at a high level, rendering him depressed. He found refuge at a tattoo parlor where he spent his afternoons allowing the tattoo artists to mark up his body with whatever designs they chose. Before long, he was invited to hang out with the tattoo artists outside of the shop, where he was introduced to alcohol and drugs for the first time. From there on out, the book goes into great detail about Hamilton’s struggle. What starts with just some cocaine use develops into an addiction to the point where Hamilton shows up to spring training — with Lou Piniella as his manager no less — wired on coke and stashing vials of it in his locker. The kid was a mess, pure and simple. The depths he sank to are disgusting. Seeing the amounts of drugs he did and the way he destroyed his body, it really is a miracle he didn’t die from an overdose or some other reason. It also makes me believe he’ll never be able to make it through a 162 game season.
After going through a coke addiction for a few years, Hamilton got introduced to crack and became addicted to that. He was literally a crackhead. It was disgusting. He talked about going through $100,000 in like one summer on crack. He spent half his signing bonus of nearly $4 million (2 or so after taxes) on drugs. It’s maddening to think how much he effed up his life. It’s even worse when you read about how immensely talented he was growing up. This kid literally destroyed his body for four years yet could still walk on a baseball field after getting clean and rake better than almost anyone on the planet. It’s incredible.
While the book gets extremely graphic regarding Hamilton’s drug use, addiction, and overall disgusting turns in life, it’s well worth a read. Literally, you’ve never seen anything like it. Perhaps the biggest reason I’m rooting for Hamilton is the same reason his dad mentioned in the book: the world should not be deprived of seeing Josh Hamilton’s tremendous talent go to waste; we all got a taste of how good he really is at the Home Run Derby in New York. The book is definitely well worth your time.Google+