BOSTON — Peabody's Jeff Allison, bonus baby gone bad but currently going well, has never met Josh Hamilton.
But if Hamilton, the Texas Rangers center fielder, has his way they will be talking soon.
Hamilton and Allison have eerily similar stories, separated only by four years.
Hamilton, 27, was drafted first overall by Tampa Bay in 1999, while Allison, 23, was chosen 16th overall by the Florida Marlins in 2003. Both were suspended for drug-related issues and both have had brushes with death.
The difference is that Hamilton has been clean for more than two years, has reached his potential in the major leagues and is now an MVP candidate.
Allison, who says he has been sober for more than a year, is at least two or three years away from fulfilling his life-long goal of pitching in the major leagues.
"I know his story, but I've never talked to him," said Hamilton before Tuesday's game with the Red Sox. "I've heard he's been doing well lately. That's good to hear."
Allison, 8-7 with a 4.47 ERA, is on a tear of sorts for the Marlins' Single-A affiliate, the Jupiter Hammerheads. He is 5-1 over his last nine starts with an ERA of about 4.00.
"It's important to have a support system," said Hamilton. "For me it was my family. ... I'm assuming he has people behind him, too."
Hamilton said for him the toughest part early on in turning his life and career around were the sleepless nights.
"The nightmares (about the drug use) are the worst," he said. "When you stop having the nightmares, you get bettter. ... The key is the bad thoughts and the urges. When they go away, he will be better."
Hamilton says he never got a call from a major leaguer who went through anything like he went through.
"If somebody called me it probably would have meant a lot," said Hamilton. "When I get his number, I will call him."><p>