Sunday, April 29, 2012

Josh Hamilton: When His Arms Were a Blank Canvas

ESPN's national game tonight is the Rangers-Rays tilt, and the strongest link between the two clubs is this fella -- Josh Hamilton. Curious about what Hamilton's arms looked like before they became ink murals? Check out this 2002 Upper Deck card of Hamilton, picked by Tampa Bay as the first overall pick in the 1999 Major League Baseball Draft. 2001 was a tough year for Hamilton, who suffered injuries and drug/alcohol addiction before the Rays ultimately let him loose. The Cubs, picking for the Reds, plucked Hamilton in the Rule 5 Draft and Hamilton appeared in the Bigs for the first time in 2007 with the Reds. The Reds traded Hamilton to the Rangers and the rest is history. He led the AL in RBI with 130 in 2008, led the AL in hitting with a .359 average in 2010 and was the league's MVP in 2010, too. But it all began with the Rays and those unadorned arms seen in this card when he played for the Orlando Rays in 2001.

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