It is just May, but the 2012 big league baseball season has already proven itself as one for the ages.
We have seen legendary men like Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter and Braves third baseman Chipper Jones discover the fountain of youth. And we have seen young men fresh from high school skyrocket to the big stage in a blink of an eye.
We have seen titanic superstars struggle beyond expectations—some to the point of sheer sadness. And we have seen ball clubs normally reserved for division cellars rise from the ashes of their own ineptitude to threaten baseball’s order of power.
A memorable season it has been, indeed.
Yet, I get the impression we are peeling back the first layer of what may become a record-breaking season for one particular ballplayer.
His name is Josh Hamilton.
This Raleigh, North Carolina native is fast becoming a baseball icon throughout the game of baseball.
Hamilton has turned tragedy into triumph and is at the crux of one of the finest seasons in baseball history. Triple Crown conversation notwithstanding, Hamilton also threatens one of baseball’s most longstanding records.
Barring injury, Texas Rangers Josh Hamilton is on track to break Cubs power-hitting icon Hack Wilson’s big league record for most RBI in a single season. Wilson’s record of 191 RBI set in 1930 is thought to be one of the most untouchable records in sports.
To some, it is more untouchable than Joe DiMaggio’s famous 56-game hitting streak set in 1941. But how this has changed in the wake of Hamilton’s scorching performance so far this season.
After Friday’s 3-for-4, two home run and two RBI performance against the Angels, Hamilton has 40 RBI through 30 games.
The closest any player in big league history has come to Wilson’s 82-year-old record is Lou Gehrig. Gehrig had 184 RBI in 1931 for the Yankees. Hank Greenberg had 183 RBI for the Tigers in 1937, followed by Jimmie Foxx with 175 RBI in 1938.
The closest any active player has come to Wilson’s record is Manny Ramirez.
Since then, nobody has even come close to threatening Wilson’s record. It has become equivalent to hunting down a unicorn.
That is, until this season.
While it will take an injury-free perfect storm, Hamilton has the skill to break Wilson’s historic record.