FOX Sports Southwest’s John Rhadigan sat down recently with Josh Hamilton to talk about the Texas Ranger’s historic four home run game on May 8 in Baltimore. Hamilton became only the 16th player in major league baseball history to smash four home runs in a game on that magical night, and it’s the subject of a 30-minute special on FOX Sports Southwest debuting in July. Spotlight: Josh Hamilton. A Date with History. Following are excerpts from the interview.
Rhadigan: Is it hard for you to put that night in perspective?
Hamilton: It was obviously a blessing. It gave me a bigger platform for a short time to share Christ with people and that’s my ultimate objective and goal. Baseball is the easiest platform to do that. I haven’t really thought much about that game since it happened. I’ve just been thinking about trying to show up every day and play the game and help my team win.
Rhadigan: What do you remember about that day?
Hamilton: The day before we had early batting practice on the field and I felt phenomenal. But in the game, I kept fouling pitches off and jamming myself. Before my last at bat, I asked myself “How can I be feeling really good, but not getting results?” It was because I was getting too big from batting practice. You can get really big and get away with it in batting practice because you’re not seeing different types of pitches. It’s totally different in a game where pitchers are throwing off speed and fastballs and trying to jam you. That last at bat, the night before the four home run game, I was just thinking about staying small and staying quiet. I told myself to just take the barrel to the ball and I ended up hitting a home run. The next day we didn’t have batting practice outside. That was a blessing in disguise because I couldn’t start feeling good again and getting big. We hit in the cage and I was just staying small and just barreling it up. I didn’t feel any different than I normally do coming out of the cage that night, but for some reason in the game I was seeing pitches really well. The game slowed way down, and I was in the spot you want to be as a hitter, mentally and physically during the game. That day I wasn’t fighting myself and I was letting it happen, and it worked out good.
Rhadigan: When you hit the home run in the last at bat the game before, did you go to bed that night thinking you had figured out a way to get smaller?
Hamilton: I’ve learned pretty quick that the days you feel good and things are going pretty good in practice, that doesn’t necessarily mean you’re going to have a good game. And when you’re popping balls up and rolling over in batting practice and just feel terrible, sometimes you have the best games. Baseball is weird like that. You don’t get up any day thinking this is going to be a better day than yesterday or a week ago. When you think you’ve figured it out, you might have figured it out for a day or two, and sometimes a stretch of a week or 10 games, but it’s always something.
Rhadigan: How did you feel after you hit the second home run?
Hamilton: I’ve only had three or four multi home run games so when I hit the second one I thought, “Man, I’ve never hit three.” And then I hit three, and then four. It was unbelievable and really exciting. I’d say it’s a once in a lifetime thing, but you really don’t want to say that because you’d like for it to happen again.
Rhadigan: Was it crystal clear what you had done? Did you have a sense of how rare it was?
Hamilton: I knew how rare it was when my teammates reacted the way they did. It was one of the best moments of my career. Rounding second after hitting the fourth one, and looking in the dugout and seeing everybody going crazy. Touching home plate and getting hugs and high fives. It was just a special moment.
Rhadigan: I think it’s hard for people to believe you don’t go up every time trying to hit home runs. Is that true?
Hamilton: When I do, I usually end up having a really bad at bat. Occasionally I’ll get caught up in it. I’ll see a pitch right down the middle of the plate and my eyes will get big and I’ll try to do too much. I’ll think, “I’m gonna kill it” instead of just trying to hit the barrel. You know you don’t have to hit the ball 400 feet you just need to make solid contact and hit the barrel and it’s going to go. God blessed me with good bat speed and power so if I make solid contact it’s just gonna go.