On May 8th, 2012, Texas Rangers’ centerfielder, Josh Hamilton, launched four home runs in one game. That game was more or less his swan song.
May 8th, 2012, was a notable day in Texas Rangers’ lore. The team, still considered a prime World Series contender at the time, enjoyed a 19-10 record and were in the waning stages of a ten-game east coast road trip. In fact, up to that point, they’d only managed to post a 3-4 record in the first seven games of that span. So nothing really portended what was about to happen that night.
From a personal standpoint, May 8th is my birthday. My family and I had convened for my thirty-eighth at a popular chain eatery that rhymes with “Phillies” for southwest eggrolls, beers, and Rangers’ baseball. Through thick and through thin, we’ve always bonded over baseball. Needless to say, we’re going through some serious withdrawals currently. But on that night, nothing could prepare us for the fireworks we were about to witness.
They started right off the proverbial bat as well. Centerfielder Josh Hamilton stepped to the plate with shortstop Elvis Andrus on first base and one out. Hamilton stroked the first pitch from Orioles’ starter Jake Arrieta over the centerfield wall to give the Rangers an early 2-0 lead.
The festivities continued in the third inning when Hamilton took Arrieta deep again, this time with an opposite field shot to left field. Andrus was on base as well. This would be the prevailing theme for the the night. And under any reasonable metric, two home runs in one game would be a laudable effort. But Hamilton was only getting started.
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The seventh inning presented another opportunity for Hamilton to produce. With Andrus on base, Hamilton went yard with another shot over the centerfield fence to give the Rangers a 5-1 lead. By this time, my family and I were in more than good spirits. Dinner had devolved mostly into drinks, for me at least. Not to get too sappy about it, but I thought that it was a pretty neat little birthday gift for someone who’d spent their life watching this franchise. Sure, the Rangers were coming off of two consecutive World Series appearances–and more seemed certain–but Hamilton’s display of power was the stuff of legend.
So by the time Josh launched his fourth homer of the night–with, you guessed it, Andrus on base–we were all out of superlatives. There was nothing but laughter and shocked expressions around our table. That last dinger gave the Rangers a 10-1 lead and turned the contest into an official laugher. A full recap of the destruction on that night can be found here. The Oriole faithful were even expressing their gratitude by the end of that rampage.
In many ways, May 8th, 2012 was Hamilton’s last great stand in a Texas uniform. His production diminished as the year progressed. His strikeouts rose dramatically. There was a peculiar case of ocular keratitis that was chalked up to the consumption of too many energy drinks. There was a misplayed fly ball in the last game of the regular season that necessitated a wild card game that the Rangers would ultimately lose.
It was always something with Josh Hamilton, especially towards the end of his tenure here. But if we’re being honest, he was the closest thing to Paul Bunyan this organization has ever seen. Not for nothing, but his tenth inning home run in Game 6 of the 2011 World Series should have been the tipping point for a Rangers’ championship. Of course, that painfully never happened. But Josh Hamilton’s four home run game in 2012 was a perfect microcosm of his time in a Rangers’ uniform.