I switched over to ESPN last night to catch the highlights of the World Series game. Unfortunately, as you know, it was rained out but they did show some baseball and it was the Homerun Derby at the All Star Game at Yankee Stadium earlier this year. I had missed it the first time round, so I sat down to check it out.
I must be honest, as a baseball fan being 14, 000 km`s away from the USA, it is quite difficult to catch games and to stay in touch with what`s happening. I am a massive Redsox fan and have been for a long time now. I bought a few Redsox books on our visit to the States and also got an authentic Sox cap, which I rocked in NYC, as my friend Lisa once said. I met Lisa on the blogs a few months ago. It turned out that she is the biggest Sox fan in the world and she willingly gave me info and sites to visit and just kept me updated. The live games only start here at 01:00 in the morning, so watching it live is not possible, for me in any case.
During the play-offs, I would receive an email every morning after the games, firstly against the Angels and then against the Rays. The subject would say something like "we won 4-2" and then she would give me a quick rundown of the game. I in turn would then catch the replay of the game later during the day here on ESPN. Some mornings I would wake up at 05:00 and switch the tv on to see the last inning of the games. It was great and from being 3-1 down, the Sox levelled the series at 3-3 and I along with all Sox fans across the world believed.
Obviously the last email just said "it`s over" and I must say, I was devastated. I know Lisa was even more devastated cos she lived those games and experienced it first hand. I at least got the bad news and didn`t have to sit with the hope in me only to see the Sox lose.
So that brings me to last night and the Homerun Derby. I saw the guys come up and get 5 or 6 HR`s or in Justin Morneau`s case 8. Then a guy named Josh Hamilton came up to the plate and proceded to hit 28 HR`s in the first round! That bettered the previous single round record of 24. The distance of some of his hits were astounding. 3 of the HR`s were in the TOP 10 of ALL TIME in the Homerun Derby. Unbelievable.
I was quite impressed by this guy. Then he was interviewed after his heroics and he said something along the lines of "God is a God of second chances". The commentators then mentioned his struggle with heroin and alcoholism and the fact that he had beaten his addictions.
Of course I was really into this story by now, so I googled Josh Hamilton and what incredible reading it turned out to be.
Josh Hamilton was a prodigiously talented youngster who was the 1st pick in the draft. He received the biggest sign-on bonus ever, $ 4 million, from the Rays. But then, he squandered ALL of it on drugs and alcohol. A sad, sad story. He was banned from MLB. He was 6`4 and had weighed 230 pounds before his addiction. At the worst point he had dropped to 180 pounds and was a shadow of the man he used to be.
Then things changed. One morning his grandmother sat him down and spoke to him earnestly. He made the decision to give his heart to the Lord and changed his ways. He got back into baseball and was signed by the Reds. He undergoes drug testing, every 2nd day. He has a full time manager / friend that travels with him and makes sure he stays out of situations that might get him in trouble. This was requested by Josh himself. When he feels the need for drugs or alcohol, he calls his manager and they do Bible study. He has been clean for more than 2 years and his life has turned around completely. He was voted the Rangers Player of the Year earlier this week. The turnaround was complete.
I was really taken by this story. This I think is the perfect modern day retelling of the Prodigal Son. A young man with everything going for him stumbles. He gets lost in the world and all the bad things it has to offer. However, he does see the light and comes back to His Heavenly Father who welcomes him with open arms. From my perspective his life comes full circle at the All Star game where his prodigious God given talent comes to the fore in an amazing way. His comeback is complete.
God is indeed a God of second chances.
This is a video of the story of Josh Hamilton. Well worth watching and so inspirational.