Last night, I went to an autograph session at the Academy store in West Plano. Josh Hamilton was there, so I took off work early and made a beeline for Plano. David Murphy was there too, but he only stayed for a few minutes, because he was really sick. That was okay with me, because I already have a David Murphy autographed baseball.
Each fan could get Josh to sign one thing, so I had him sign a copy of his book (which I made Daddy go buy yesterday while I was at work), and dad had him sign a baseball. I wanted a Josh Hamilton baseball too, but Daddy made a point of specifically telling me, “Uh-uh, you can’t have my baseball, I’m keeping this one.” “Okay, Daddy, you keep your baseball. I’ve got the book,” I said, secretly disappointed. But there was no way I could blame him. I mean it’s Josh Hamilton!
Jim Sundberg, aka “Sunny”
I went over to the other table to get autographs from Jim Sundberg (Rangers’ Hall of Fame catcher), Jon Daniels (GM), and Tom Greive (former player and manager, current TV announcer). As I walked past JD, he nodded at me and said hi, so I took the opportunity to tell him, “I’m going to be working for you someday. Just FYI.” He didn’t seem surprised, he just said, “Oh really? What do you do?” I said, “I have an English degree, so I can write, edit, do press releases, or whatever you want. I have a Rangers blog.” TR Sullivan was there, and he chimed in, “Yeah, this is that girl that I wrote the article about on Christmas.” JD didn’t remember what he was talking about, so he asked TR to send him the link.
Later, as I was talking to TR, he asked me, “Are you going to the Mid-Winter Awards Banquet in a couple of weeks?” I told him that I had really wanted to, but the tickets were too expensive. So he said, “I want you to come as my guest.” My jaw dropped open. “Really?!”
“Yeah,” he said. “I’ll contact you and we’ll work out the details.” At this point, my dad shook TR’s hand, because if he hadn’t invited me, I probably would have talked my dad into paying for us both to go. He saved my dad $120!! Richard Durrett from ESPN.com was standing next to us, and he said “Oh, man, you’ll have to sit at the press table though.” “No, that’s GOOD!” I said. ‘That’s what I want to do: write about the Texas Rangers! So this is perfect!” Then TR said, “Oh yeah, I have to present Michael Young with the MVP award, so we have to figure out what to say to him.” Umm… wow!
I saw that Jon Daniels was just sitting at his table, so I went over to ask him some questions. He was very nice, and I felt special that I got to do a little 5-minute “interview” with him.
Jarrod Saltalamacchia, aka “Salty”
I asked him first about whether they were looking to acquire another catcher because of the uncertainty with Salty’s health since his surgery. “It’ll all depend on how Salty’s doing in Spring Training. We’ll just have to wait and see how he’s doing. If he’s having trouble, we can pick up somebody then,” he said. Fair enough.
Then I asked him why the Rangers are so interested in adding another starting pitcher, considering the pitching depth that the Rangers have right now. “You can never have enough pitching,” he said. “You want too much pitching in April because you never know what’s going to happen in September.” True, Jon. Very true.
Tom Hicks, current owner
Then I asked a question that caused Daniels to clam up: “Do we even have any money left in the budget to get a veteran starting pitcher?” As soon as I asked this question, he lost the open, honest look on his face and became carefully composed. It was as if he was guarding his answer and he wanted to make sure he didn’t say too much. “Well… we’ll do alright…” he started. I immediately started backtracking. “I understand you don’t want to give away exactly how much you have to spend, so that’s okay, you don’t have to answer that.” But that led me to think about the ownership situation.
“Tomorrow is the deadline for the exclusive negotiating period between Tom Hicks and Chuck Greenberg,” I said. “What do you think is going to happen?” But his guard was already up from the previous question. “I don’t know,” he said. “What do YOU think is going to happen?” he asked. Dead end. Then I got off on a tangent of talking about how I’m Chuck Greenberg’s friend on Facebook, and that he was very nice to me and he sent me an email and everything. I’m easily distracted; what can I say?
My last question was, “Why Vlad Guerrero over Jermaine Dye? Any particular reason?” His response was “Well, we had to pick one of them. We couldn’t have both. And Vlad’s 35, but he passed the physical, and I think he’ll be a great DH for us.”
So it was a pretty great evening! But that wasn’t all! Last night, while we were waiting for Josh to sign the autographs, Daddy and I entered a raffle for several different Rangers’-related prizes, then I didn’t think twice about it. I never win anything. But this morning, when I got to work, I had a voicemail from somebody who worked at Academy. I called her back and I said, “Hi, I’m Katie Brownfield. Did I win something?” “Yes, you did,” she said. “You won a Josh Hamilton autographed baseball!”
And it all comes full circle!