Prodigal son Josh Hamilton's return to the Texas Rangers: What role is faith playing?

As I mentioned in my first GetReligion post five-plus years ago — and a few zillion times since then — I am a big Texas Rangers fan.

Last week, my three children and I drove down to Globe Life Park in Arlington and enjoyed Josh Hamilton's first two games back with the Rangers:

By Sunday — when Hamilton hit a walk-off double against the Boston Red Sox to cap a spectacular first weekend back in Texas — we were back home in Oklahoma:

Why do I bring up the Rangers and Hamilton here at GetReligion? 

Because where Hamilton is concerned, faith is a huge angle. Way back in 2008, Evan Grant, who covers the Rangers for The Dallas Morning News, wrote:

SMITHFIELD, N.C. - Faith. It comes up often in the story of 26-year-old Joshua Holt Hamilton. It's virtually impossible to tell his story without mentioning his Christian faith. He'd prefer you not even try.

Faith, he regularly testifies, has put him back in baseball after four years of addiction problems so ugly you can't blame his family for not wanting to relive them. Because of faith they do - to churches, youth groups and halfway houses.

If Hamilton could shake his habit - it included downing a bottle of Crown Royal almost daily and cocaine and crack cravings so strong he burned through a $3.96 million signing bonus - and finally get to the big leagues last season, there had to be a reason.

But in the wake of recent drama involving Hamilton — his drug relapse over the winter, his impending divorce from his wife, his trade from the Los Angeles Angels back to Texas — I haven't seen anyone ask the slugger about God. (I did see a gold cross hanging from his neck after his jersey was ripped off in the celebration after Sunday's win.)

Last month, the Dallas paper quoted Texas general manager Jon Daniels as saying the Rangers would put a support system into place for Hamilton:

The support system will be headed by Shayne Kelley, who served as Hamilton’s loosely titled “accountability partner” for the 2012 season. Kelley is expected to live and travel with Hamilton, who is going through a divorce from his wife of 10 years, but will not have a role with the club. Kelley was in the Rangers’ dugout for the 2012 season as a major league staff assistant.
Hamilton also cited televangelist James Robison, a longtime friend, and Chad Harrington, another friend with whom Hamilton has lived for most of the last three months while recovering from shoulder surgery.

I wonder: Given Robison's involvement, does that support system include a church family?

Dear baseball writer friends: How about an update on the faith of Texas' prodigal son?

Please respect our Commenting Policy