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*Some content in this transcript may have been changed to provide constancy in the conversation.
Hello, everybody, this is texasrangers.com and Chuck Morgan. Remember, for anything Texas Rangers, be sure to visit texasrangers.com. We have a special holiday gift for you during this month's Web chat; we have Rangers All-Star outfielder Josh Hamilton. Josh, how are you doing?
Josh: Good, good to be here.
Chuck: How was the book tour?
Josh: The book tour was exhausting, but wasn't as bad as I thought it would be. I had just gotten home and wanted to spend time at home, but writing a book and having it out there was more of a priority. I was glad it worked out okay.
Chuck: Tell us the name of the book and why we should get this book for everyone on our Christmas list.
Josh: It was something I wanted to put together as quickly as possible, because everybody pretty much knows what I went through, and I wanted to say that no matter how far you may go down in life, there is always a way back up. For me, it was with a relationship with Jesus Christ. It's one of those things where I've had so many people come to me and tell me how my story has inspired them when I'm on the field during batting practice and things like that. I thought it would be a great idea to reach a broader fan base.
Chuck: It's called Beyond Belief, and you can get it at bookstores and at texasrangers.com, for everyone on your Christmas or Holiday list.
Normally, we do these [web chats] right behind the batting cages in the media interview room. Today, it looks like we are in a conversion van, but actually, we're at the fabulous W Hotel in downtown Dallas and, Josh, we have questions for you from fans all across the country. Here's our first question.
I noticed that whenever you came up to bat there would be a song that they would play, and I was wondering if you knew what that song was called. Congrats on a great season! I can't wait till next year!
Question submitted by: Hannah Miller
Chuck: I happen to have the CD here, so you can tell everyone what the song was.
Josh: It's called Save the Day by Phillips, Craig and Dean. I told Chuck early in the season to start the song a little sooner. A lot of guys like to listen to their song as they come up. I'm a little different; I like to have everyone else to hear my song. It talks about Christ rising and His resurrection and Him living again. (talking to Chuck) You did a great job of playing it right on queue so everyone could hear it. It tells a little bit about me and I want everyone to know a little bit about me.
Chuck: Let me tell everyone, Josh, this was the most-requested song. I would get e-mails and phone calls, so again, good for the Christmas list.
Another thing I've got to tell you is you also wanted a song a couple of times called Aimless Moses. I'll drop a name on you, because I just to work for the guy, and his name is Jerry Reed. What was the story behind Aimless Moses?
Josh: In the very beginning, I guess there is a song called When You're Hot, You're Hot, and in the very beginning, they say, "son." And it was one of those things I heard in Spring Training, and I started saying that especially in the clubhouse and around the guys. When something good would happen, I would be like, "son". It kind of caught on. Every once in a while, we'd throw it in the mix to try and get the guys fired up a little bit.
Hey Josh, How did it feel to hit 28 home runs in the home run derby?
Question submitted by: Travis Williams
Josh: I was a little tired, but it was unbelievable. It was probably one of the best moments of my life besides marrying my lovely wife and having my beautiful children. To have my family there watching, and it being the last year of Yankees Stadium and the first Home Run Derby ever at Yankees Stadium, it was unbelievable, and it did get pretty tiring.
But I was coming out of a store the other day, and this guy came up to me and said, "Hey Josh, you know you had a great season, and the Home Run Derby was great, but next time, pace yourself; we want to see you win," and I said, "Let me ask you a question: Do you want me to hit eight home runs in the first round, maybe seven second, and five in the third to win it, or would you rather me put on a show?" He said, "Definitely, put on a show!"
Chuck: Well, that was a show!
What is your favorite part about playing on the Rangers?
Question submitted by: Amanda Kent
Josh: You know, we have such a great clubhouse. The group of guys in the clubhouse have been unbelievable, and obviously, all the fans. Everyone that I've run into that has been a Rangers fan does nothing but give the best support -= from Spring Training on through the season. The exciting part is, I get to come back next year and do it again and hopefully keep most of the same guys in the clubhouse, and the fans will be there.
Chuck: And they made you feel right at home from, almost, Day 1. When you had your chance to tell your story, Michael Young, Hank [Blalock] and Ian [Kinsler] all came in to listen and that meant quite a bit to you.
Josh: It did. I had that press conference at Spring Training, and the three guys come walking in. I thought they were going to be interviewed next, so I felt like I needed to hurry up and get thorugh this so they could go. But they were actually there to hear my story firsthand. First time any players have ever done that, and it definitely meant a lot.
Do you enjoy the fans asking for your autograph and when was the first time that ever happened to you? How did you feel?
Question submitted by: Chris Athens
Josh: I do enjoy fans asking for my autograph. I'd have to start worrying the day they stop asking me. The first time it happened was in high school. It was my senior year, and I was coming out of English class one day and this guy is standing there was a dozen baseballs. He said, "Josh, sign these. I know you are going to do great and go on to be great." So I signed them, and it caught fire and went on after that.
If they ever made a movie about you, who would you want to play you?
Question submitted by: Jessica Martinez
Josh: It would definitely have to be someone very, very good looking. (Silence.) You're supposed to laugh. (giggles with Chuck)
Chuck: So we're looking at a Brad Pitt or someone like that?
Josh: No, no that's too good looking. Well, Matthew McConaughey is definitely too small. Mark Wahlberg is small, but they can do certain things with the cameras to make you look bigger than you are, probably him. He's made some good sports movies. Seems like the movies he makes are really good. Plus, he's got some intensity in him, and I'd like to say I have that.
Chuck: I think we should start on something like that after we win the World Series next year.
Josh: Should I say Will Ferrell?
Chuck: Nah, I don't think you want Will. I'm not sure he can hit.
Josh: I like your idea!
Y'all seem to be having a lot of fun which makes you fun to watch. Does a lot of practical joking go on in the clubhouse? If so, what was the best one this year?
Question submitted by: Royce Hargrove
Josh: There's certain guys that are always nitpicking at each other, and sometimes it gets carried too far. Obviously, a couple of things, you put FlexAll in guy's jock straps, which if you don't know what FlexAll is, it burns quite a bit. Some people put eye black in peoples' shower shoes. One guy this year (giggles), I'm not naming names, one guy did something to somebody but he thought it was somebody else that did it... anyway, long story short... they took a lock that you lock your bike up with and ran all his clothes through it in his locker, everything that he was going to wear home, ran the lock through everything and locked it up. He couldn't get the lock off. He had to wear a pair of shorts and T-shirt home that night.
Chuck: But Josh, watching you play, you're always smiling. You look like you're having a lot of fun out there.
Josh: I do, I have a lot of fun. Obviously, I've played baseball since I was a little kid. Before I left the game when I was suspended, I was starting to take things for granted. It started to feel like a job to me. Ever since that happened, and I went on that suspension and came back, ever since then, I've been playing in the big leagues, but it's such a blessing to be here and get a second chance. So it feels like a kid's game again to me.
Chuck: I asked Nolan Ryan what he would do if a manager instructed him to walk a guy with the bases loaded. Now, I want to know, what was going through you mind the night that Joe Maddon says to walk Hamilton and the bases are loaded and we get a run? So, what were you thinking?
Josh: Well, first of all, I was prepared to go up there and knock some runs in and he had a different plan, Joe Maddon did. It was weird, it really was. I got an RBI out of it, and I got another walk. I'm not tooting my own horn, but it was a smart play, because I was driving runs in really well at that time. And I think I had Byrdie [Marlon Byrd] behind me, and Byrdie was hot too, so it was kind of a tossup. You know, what do you do?
Chuck: You know, Nolan said the same thing. He said he agreed with the move, but he's not so sure what he'd have done, but he agreed with the move at the time.
Josh: If he'd been on the mound, he probably would have hit me!
Chuck: Yeah, he'd only have to throw one pitch!
Hello Josh. For you, what is the hardest pitch to drive from a left-handed and a right-handed pitcher?
Question submitted by: Thomas Heid
Josh: For a left-handed pitcher, probably a cutter. Where it looks like it's coming behind you and runs across the plate. You have to make sure you really let it get deep to drive it the other way. It's real easy to foul those pitches off, especially off someone like [Jon] Lester who pitched for Boston this season, he throws that ball. For a righty, I don't know. I don't like to give pitchers that much credit. Probably, for a righty, a sinker in. It starts in off the plate, and you know it's off the plate. Sometimes you give up on it, and it runs back across the corner of the plate, and most of the time, the umpires give it to them anyway.
Can you compare the grind of a 162 game season to the grind of walking out your faith, especially in light of what you've been through?
Question submitted by: David Preston
Josh: You know, my body held up a lot better than I thought it would. I found out this year that 162 games was a grind. I can say now that I've been through it, experienced it. Now I can know what everyone else is talking about. I did a lot of praying this year. Before every game I would pray for health, for the Lord to protect me today and keep me healthy, protect my teammates to keep them healthy, and protect the other team. Let us put on a good show and entertain folks that were out there watching. One thing I prayed for before I went to bed one night a couple of months before the All-Star Game, I said, "Lord, you know my heart, you know I'm not trying to be selfish, but the more successful I am, the more people will listen to my story." It's been awesome keeping the Lord upfront, and everything else just follows behind.
Chuck: He took pretty good care of you for 162 games, and we talked about it earlier, but the All-Star Game did wear you about a bit.
Josh: Well, it did, but it wasn't necessarily the actual playing of the game, but it was getting on the plane after your last first-half game. Our flight got delayed, and we didn't get in until three o'clock in the morning in New York. Maybe got a total of five or six hours of sleep in about a 2 1/2 day period. That was the hard part to recover from, going into the second half, and it took a couple of weeks to recover from that. Learning how to take care of my body was the main key. I don't care what you do, you're going to get tired.
Chuck: And then you had a little addition to the family a little later on. That's not easy on anybody either.
Josh: We did. We had Michaela Grace, she was born August 14. I actually left Boston, I was in the middle of playing Boston when Katie called, and I left the game. I couldn't catch a flight that night, and I had to wait until the next morning. Took off for home, and 30 minutes before I landed, her water broke and a couple of hours later, she was here. Katie handled letting me get sleep very well. She still hasn't gotten much sleep. She would sleep in the other room so I could get some rest. She would say, "You've got to get your rest. You've got to be rested and be able to play."
I have prayed for the Rangers players for many years. I know that there are other Christians on the team. Who most encourages you in your faith on the team?
Question submitted by: Scott Bligh
Josh: We've got a few guys on there that are Christians. We get together and have Bible studies. John Spicer is our chaplain, and he does a great job teaching the Word. What encourages me the most is when non-believers ask questions. You know, I'm not in there beating them over the head with a Bible by any means. It's nice to see them see in you living your life, and I'm not trying to say perfect, there are some things I need to work on. When they ask you those questions, I tell them the answer, and if I don't know the answer, I'll find out the answer and get back to them. I'm steady plugging when I'm walking through the clubhouse saying Chapel in 10 minutes, 15 minutes. I'll put Bible Study on the board and tell them what date and time. I kind of keep chirping at them and I'm getting the message out.
This was a great season for you. My Question is what is the best highlight of the season for you?
Question submitted by: Reema Zardeh & Peter Garthe
Josh: I know they're thinking the Home Run Derby, and I probably have to say that, but all my firsts as a Ranger were big highlights for me. First home run in Arlington [Rangers Ballpark], my first walk-off home run -- it was my first one ever, every first I had -- throwing people out in the park, my first hit. Every category, every first was big for me. That run we had in the middle of the season -- June and July -- that was something special, that was something fun to be apart of. I think we were six games over .500 or something like that.
Chuck: The biggest wow factor, I can remember, I went, "Wow!" when you hit that home run off Francisco Rodriguez. That was outstanding.
Josh: Well, I don't want to say I got lucky... quick story -- I think I was 0-for-4 that night or something, and I was in the outfield, and Satan comes after you and tries to bring you down, tell you that you can't do it, and you should give up. Those thoughts were running though my head out there, I was frustrated. I told myself I wouldn't listen to it, that I'm going to get another shot. I got up [to the plate], and that happened.
Chuck: Well, that was a great night, a great night at the ballpark.
What was going through your head when you did the big slip and slide movement at Shea stadium?
Question submitted by: James Gawne
Josh: That was fun. Actually, I was going to the park, and I had slept on my neck wrong, and I could hardly move it, and I was there getting treatment all day long. And I knew I was getting treatment for something, either play, or do what we did. Milton Bradley said they had the tarp on [the field], that it was raining. He said, "We need to go sliding!" I said, "Let's go." I was the first one to say, "Lets go." There were four or five of us that ended up going out there. The Mets fans had all gathered up underneath to get out of the rain. As soon as they saw us run out, they started screaming and yelling, and at one point they started chanting, "Let's go Rangers." That was an unbelievable feeling, too. You always have to play to the crowd. We acted like we were done, and we gave them one more, and they starts screaming again. We actually ran in to the dugout one time, and we took off again. It was a great moment. It was the last tarp slide ever at Shea Stadium. There were a lot of firsts and lasts this year.
Hi Josh, I read your book and it is very inspiring. You wrote about how you trained as a young man for youth baseball by using a 10 lb medicine ball and also exercise bands to build up wrist and forearm strength. Is that what you would recommend to kids today to do (I have a 12 year old son in Little League and he needs to build up his muscle strength without damaging his muscles by blindly lifting weights, etc)? Thank you.
Question submitted by: Tina Carlson
Josh: Definitely, 12 years old is the perfect age. Just find out from a doctor or sports therapist the exercises to do with the bands. It's a great way to increase arm strength. I wouldn't say build muscle, but gain strength and maintain strength. With the medicine ball, I used to stand back-to-back with my dad, and we would practice, as fast as we can, each way, handing the ball off to one another. Actually, I used to build forearm strength, he's going to need big hands, but I would put a batting glove on and palm the medicine ball. I would practice holding it up and building muscle that way.
Chuck: We saw on the bat, during the All-Star Home Run Derby, "The Dream." Where does that come from?
Josh: I don't know. The bat company put it on there. I don't know what they were doing or if that's mandatory for them. I need to ask the question.
Chuck: That's your model of bat (referencing the bat Chuck handed to Josh during the interview).
Josh: This is my model of bat. I use an I13.It was weird, because where I laid the bat during the Home Run Derby, you know that show I'm talking about, the bag I propped it up against was the hitters' stick and the pine tar and all of that, and I just tossed it there. The next thing you know, they're shooting it over there.
Chuck: When will Josh Hamilton start working out, or have you already started working out? It's December, are you looking forward to 2009?
Josh: I have started working out. I actually started about the second week of November. Usually, I like to take about a month off to let your body recoup. I start hurting again. I've never been so tight. After playing so many games and stopping, I was so tight I could hardly move. I start my baseball activities in about a week or so, about the second week of December.
Hello Josh. Thanks for accepting my question. I travel quite a bit, and was wondering what steps you take to avoid feeling exhausted from long East Coast/West Coast flights or late extra inning games with travel the next day or that night after the game? Thanks.
Question submitted by: Charlie Perkins
Josh: Not every team has the luxury, but the Rangers have a plane they share with the Dallas Stars. It's an unbelievable plane. The seats are very comfortable, first-class seats. They, if you want them to, actually lay down flat where you can actually sleep or at least be a lot more comfortable than if you were on a regular plane.
There's nothing you can do. You try to not eat badly. I eat pasta the nights after games, so it gives me energy for the next day. Whatever I put in my body after the game, I'm going to feel that way the next day. If I'm drinking a lot of sodas, eating a lot of candy, I'm not going to feel well. It's okay every once in a while. That was another learning process for me for learning how to adapt. The Minor League bus rides definitely get you ready for this.
Are you proud to be a Texas Ranger and do you plan on a long term career in a Rangers uniform?
Question submitted by: Darin Davis
Josh: Any relation to Chris Davis?
Chuck: No relation to Chris Davis.
Josh: I love being a Ranger. I love the Arlington area; it's a great place to raise a family. I've had nothing but good interaction with the front office since I've been here. My teammates have been great. I can't say enough about them. How well they've accepted me over the past year. How well they've supported me in every way. The fans have been great. When all those things line up, I would love to stay here. As far as for a long time, I don't know. You've have to email JD -- Jon Daniels -- Nolan, and all those guys to find out.
Chuck: Josh, I've been with the Texas Rangers for over 25 years. I just wanted to thank you for giving me some of the biggest thrills I've ever seen at the ballpark. Whether you were throwing a guy out at third, or we were voting for you in the All-Star Game/Home Run Derby and then betting the Angels like that. I mean, I enjoyed every minute of watching you play this year.
Josh: I appreciate it. Thank you very much.
Chuck: We want to remind everybody once again that the name of the book is Beyond Belief. It's at book stores, and it's also at the gift shop at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington. Josh, we appreciate your time today.
Josh: Thank you.
Chuck: Josh Hamilton, everybody. Be sure and join us next month right here at texasrangers.com, and we'll have another web chat. Once again, for everything Texas Rangers, visit texasrangers.com.