The guy in the Santa hat sported a beard, but it was not terribly bushy or white. And even in the offseason, his belly seemed unlikely to shake like jelly when he laughed. But as with the chubby guy in the sleigh, Josh Hamilton had something he wanted to deliver to kids this holiday season.
"When you're sick, you don't feel like having a good attitude," Hamilton said of the children he met at Children's Medical Center of Dallas on Wednesday. "The biggest thing is to try to encourage them ... and give them a big smile."
Hamilton and other Rangers players, along with team coaches, executives, alumni and broadcasters, visited the hospital as part of the team's annual holiday outreach. Ian Kinsler and his wife, Tess, donated $15,000 to the Children's Medical Center Foundation, and the group spent the morning greeting patients.
According to Thad Levine, assistant general manager, the players enjoyed the experience at least as much as the children did.
"This means the world to the players," Levine said. "The kids light us up. Their smiles from ear to ear make you realize that everything you have going on in your life, you need to think twice and ... be thankful for everything positive in your life."
Hamilton, in particular, wielded his broad smile with abandon. No child who approached him escaped without one, from 3-year-old Alison, with her own ball to be signed, to the boy whom Hamilton actually had to coax into having a photo taken together.
Hamilton, Levine and the others occupied the Butterfly Atrium common room, where more ambulatory patients could meet each visitor. Kinsler, Michael Young and pitching coach Mike Maddux visited individual rooms in the ICU.
The Rangers' traveling party also included players Derek Holland and David Murphy; manager Ron Washington; hitting coach Scott Coolbaugh; broadcasters Eleno Ornelas, Dave Barnett and Tom Grieve; alumni Pete O'Brien, Jim Sundberg, John Wetteland and Jose Guzman; and the Rangers Captain. Attendees' wives and girlfriends handed out goodie bags.
Rush Olson is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.