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Editorial: A huge hit in New York

Venerable Yankee Stadium, the house of Ruth, Gehrig, DiMaggio and other hallowed names, has had more than its share of magical baseball moments. Monday night’s All-Star Home Run Derby provided another, especially for viewers inNorth Carolina.
No, Raleigh native Josh Hamilton didn’t win the derby. That honor ultimately went to the Minnesota Twins’ Justin Morneau. But Hamilton, the 27-year-old Texas Ranger centerfielder, blasted 28 homers in the first round, a record-breaking performance that left even blase sports commentators searching for suitable adjectives as bomb after bomb arced toward the upper decks. What made the performance even more astounding was that only a few years ago, Hamilton was out of baseball, trapped in a vortex of drug and alcohol addiction. His credits his recovery to faith and the support of family and friends.
But his redemption narrative is only half the tale. The other half belonged to 71-year-old Clay Council, the volunteer coach from Cary who used to throw batting practice to a teenage Hamilton. The future All-Star promised Council back then that if he ever made it to the home run derby, he’d take Council along to be his pitcher. Monday night, he made good on that vow. And just as if they were back on the scruffy practice fields of youth, Council tossed pitch after pitch over the heart of the plate, and Council lifted homer after homer toward the stadium lights as the crowd thundered its approval. It was a “Field of Dreams” moment, uniting a prodigal son of baseball with the steadfast mentor who saw his great promise and helped him fulfill it.

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