When I arrived a few minutes before noon for the Texas Rangers’ annual media affair at Fort Worth’s Omni Hotel, the banquet room was already buzzing with the cheer of a lighthearted holiday lunch. That’s the nature of the event. It’s more about catching up than getting scoops.
I was there as the sports anchor for Channel 21. My news photographer was already in a scrum in front of the Rangers’ interview area at the back of the room. Outfielder David Murphy was giving an interview to a crew from Univision.
“What do you want in your Rangers holiday stocking?” I asked when it was my turn, deciding that would be my softball question in addition to the everyday baseball stuff.
“Uh, Josh Hamilton, I guess,” Murphy responded with a laugh and broad smile.
I asked manager Ron Washington the fluff question of the day, too.
“I’d like to get Hamilton back in the fold,” he answered without hesitation.
Nolan Ryan was my final interview. He said that he hadn’t talked to Hamilton. His voice was scratchy. He told me he’d been battling a cold.
After getting more sound than we would ever use, it was time to eat. My photographer left for another shoot. Two other TV crews were at my table. We talked about our kids and high school hairstyles. Rangers GM Jon Daniels abruptly left the banquet room, but I didn’t think much of it. Practicing my manners, I avoided checking Twitter on either of my two BlackBerrys. But I began noticing more activity among Rangers executive types. I grabbed my phone and walked to the hallway outside the banquet room, using dessert as an excuse to leave. A print reporter said to me, quickly and quietly, “Hamilton to the Angels.”
My mad scramble began. I called two sports producers at the station to send a photographer back to the Omni in effort to get someone from the Rangers commenting about Josh Hamilton agreeing to a five-year, $125 million deal with their division rivals. No answer on their phones. I texted both producers. Nothing. I overheard Rangers personnel discussing Hamilton. I knew the deal was official.
I saw John Blake approach Ryan while he was finishing lunch. The Rangers’ executive vice president of communications informed him the Hamilton news was credible. Ryan processed the information. He didn’t seem surprised.
People started filing out. The party was over.
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