ARLINGTON — It’s been a rough season for Texas Rangers first baseman Mitch Moreland, who played in only 52 games before going on the 60-day disabled list with a left ankle injury.Thursday, however, he was back at the ballpark with his wife, Susannah Higgins Moreland, and a pair of young cancer survivors.Seven-year-olds Andrew Barksdale and Trevor Moultrie of Trussville, Ala., were diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia when they were toddlers and have been friends since, when their mothers met in the waiting room at Children’s of Alabama.“I’m fortunate enough to be a small part of it. The Rangers and Southwest Airlines really stepped up and made it possible,” Mitch Moreland said. “We thought it’d be pretty neat to get them out here and experience a Rays-Rangers big-league game. I’m fortunate enough to be able to guide them around, meet the guys, get some signatures and have a good time.”Back in Alabama, Trevor plays on the Rangers, a youth team for 7-year-olds, while Andrew plays for the Rays. “It’s been overwhelming and we’ve been blessed. We never expected this,” Andrew’s mother, Holly Barksdale, said. “They’ve been going nonstop. They know all the players and what position they play.”Susannah read a story about the boys and quickly jumped on board. She worked with the Children’s Miracle Network while a contestant in the Miss Alabama Pageant. She and Mitch have a 2-year-old son and a second child on the way.“It was definitely my wife’s idea, don’t give me any credit,” Mitch Moreland said. “When you have kids, it really brings you down to earth. She called me up and asked me what I thought about it, and I said let’s get on it, let’s make it happen.”Susannah brought this up with the Rangers and the team flew out both families to Globe Life Park for Thursday’s game against the Tampa Bay Rays.“We’re very excited. It’s been unbelievable from the moment we stepped off the plane to see Mitch and Susannah and their family, and Southwest Airlines, the fans and the media … it’s been nonstop,” said Trevor’s dad, Terrance Moultrie.All three families met for the first time at the airport and they couldn’t have been happier.“They’re great kids and they’re excited to be out here and to be able to do some of these things with us,” Mitch Moreland said.Both kids got out on the field, watched batting practice and took in the game from a suite. They took pictures with some of the players and also got tickets to Six Flags Over Texas and rode in a limousine to and from their hotel.“We are all still struck by this,” Holly Barksdale said.
Brian Gosset, 817-390-7760 Twitter: @Gosset41