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Hamilton bringing familiar face to Derby

Hamilton's coach to pitch in Derby

ARLINGTON -- Josh Hamilton will take two things with him to next Monday's State Farm Home Run Derby.

His own pitcher, Clay Council, a 71-year-old volunteer high school coach that tutored Hamilton's brother, Jason, in American Legion ball in North Carolina. And an attitude that participating in the Home Run Derby can't do anything to mess up this season's hottest swing.

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"Every swing of mine has a little bit of an uppercut to it," Hamilton said. "I do it in batting practice every day. I have a home run swing."

The 27-year-old is excited about the Derby and starting in center for the American League squad, but was more interested in talking about Council, who has thrown batting practice to him since Hamilton was in high school at Athens Drive High in Raleigh, N.C. Hamilton said Council, who coached at a rival high school, has been throwing batting practice to local kids for more than 30 years.

"He's money," Hamilton said. "I hold the bat out and he'll hit it."

Hamilton said he called up Council two weeks ago and asked him how he would feel about pitching to him with 50,000 fans at Yankee Stadium in the final All-Star Game at "The House that Babe built."

"He said, 'That would be great,'" Hamilton said.

Council, reached by phone Monday night at his home in Cary, N.C. -- outside of Raleigh -- said Hamilton had promised him since he was a teenager that if he made it to the Home Run Derby, that Council would pitch to him.

"He was a lot younger then," Council said. "But he made the Home Run Derby, so he called."

It will be the second visit for Council to Yankee Stadium -- he said the only other game he saw at the venerable ballpark came as a teenager when he watched Don Larsen's perfect game in Game 5 of the 1956 World Series.

"I'll probably be nervous," Council said. "I never thought this would happen."

Hamilton said participating in Monday's Home Run Derby is "an experience you want to have." Hamilton, having a breakout season while leading the AL with 84 RBIs, is one of three Rangers that will be play in their first All-Star Game next Tuesday night, joining second baseman Ian Kinsler and designated hitter Milton Bradley.

Hamilton said he has participated in one Home Run Derby -- in 2000, when he was with Class A Charleston. As he remembered, he lost.

"There weren't many home runs hit that day," Hamilton said. "In Charleston, the wind blows in all the time."

Todd Wills is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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