Laurel Leader Call Paper

Published June 11, 2009 10:32 am -

Taylorsville's Hamilton top pick from Mississippi
Star selected in 2nd round by Reds

By Michael Boykin, To the Leader Call —

When it comes to Taylorsville, the automatic image coming to mind is sports. The tiny town without a single traffic light and a mere population of less than 2,000 has always been a hotbed for championship sports. No. 1 rankings and state championships from Tartar football, baseball, basketball, cheerleading or track teams are viable on an annual basis.

Tartar football players Tim Moffett, Marcus Keys, Jason Campbell and Tim Duckworth eventually found themselves in the NFL. After attending Alcorn State, John McGill was drafted into the NBA by the Knicks.

Current South Panola baseball coach Patrick Robey and current Taylorsville head coach Dusty Hillman came close with brief careers in the independent leagues.

As far as baseball is concerned, no Tartar has ever been drafted by a Major League Baseball team -- until Tuesday night, when Billy Hamilton was drafted by the Cincinnati Reds.

Most people around the town are involved with summer league baseball in some form or fashion. So it was not long before residents caught word of Hamilton. The multi-talented athlete has excelled in just as many sports as he has been able to play, en route to being known throughout as one of the nation’s best athletes.

Hamilton began showcasing his extraordinary skills while playing on those summer league fields. He started standing out from the crowd by leading the Taylorsville All-Star team to Dixie Youth World Series appearances with instinctive hitting and acrobatic catches.

The son of Polly Booth and John Page, Hamilton has seen his family increase over the years. Jim Wade Ford, father of Hamilton’s teammate Tanner, took a special interest in the phenom during his early years and considers him as another son. The whole community has since taken him in as a local hero.

Most serious athletes these days tend to focus on one sport in which to specialize. The 6-foot, 165-pound Hamilton not only participated in multiple sports throughout high school, but also seemed to dominate in each and every one.

His skills shone brightly as he guided the Tartars to state championship appearances in baseball, basketball and football. During his freshman year, the Tartar baseball team lost standout Britt Ford to injury towards the end of the season. Hamilton stepped in right away, helped the team win the state title and has never looked back.

Hamilton starred at receiver and defensive back for the Tartar football team, ranking among the state’s leaders in receptions, yards receiving and interceptions. After the end of the season, he was chosen All-State and participated in the highly regarded Mississippi/Alabama All-Star Classic in Mobile, Ala.

In basketball, Hamilton was one of the South’s most respected players and top scorers, averaging around 35 points and 10 assists per game. The guard was named All-State and Dandy Dozen by the Clarion-Ledger for his efforts, which included multiple contests in which he scored at least 50 points. Hamilton was chosen to participate in an All-Star game for basketball as well. He was named Best Offensive Player.

Baseball, however, is widely regarded as Hamilton’s best sport and personal favorite. It would be hard to argue the fact. Hamilton enjoyed a junior season where he batted .520 with 5 homeruns, by following with a .448 batting average, 4 homeruns, 28 runs batted in and 26 stolen bases during his senior campaign. Again, the Clarion-Ledger awarded him with All-State and Dandy Dozen honors.

Hamilton participated in the Crossroads Diamond Club 1A/2A/3A All-Star game at Trustmark Park Saturday, becoming the South’s Most Valuable Player. Ford, a Jones County Junior College signee, joined him on the squad, winning the Most Outstanding Hitter award as well.

Hamilton’s cousin Darion Hamilton has been there throughout the moments of pressure. Keeping each other grounded has been a main goal for the duo. Darion, who may also be drafted, has always played second fiddle to Billy, even while excelling in the same three sports. The All-State Hamiltons are very close and can usually be spotted together around town.

Last summer, Hamilton traveled to Florida to participate in the East Coast Prospect Showcase. Scouts took notice when Hamilton was recorded as the fastest player at the showcase. His efforts resulted in articles about Hamilton from Baseball America and Minor League Baseball.