The smile on Tre’s face was all the reason a large group of Texas Rangers players, coaches and staff needed to explain why visiting Cook Children’s Medical Center in Fort Worth is an annual tradition.
The 6-year-old from Decatur was one of many patients who spent an hour with the Rangers as they signed autographs, posed for pictures and handed out Rangers goodies.
Emma, a 15-year-old from Grapevine, got to have a long conversation with Michael Young. And, yes, she’s now in love.
The Rangers, like many professional teams including the Dallas Cowboys and Dallas Mavericks, make special visits this time of year with the hope of brightening the day for ailing children, some facing tough medical odds. The group visited Children’s Medical Center Dallas on Tuesday.
The adage that the visitors — which included Rangers broadcasters, manager Jeff Banister, general manager Jon Daniels and ownership Chairman Neil Leibman — get as much or more out of it than the patients was a familiar refrain.
“Especially for those with kids, or with kids on the way,” said Rangers dugout reporter Emily Jones McCoy. “You see the difference with the guys who’ve had children over the last couple of years. It changes their perspective. To see them really get down and in close with the kids and really talk and do anything they can to make them smile is really fun to watch.”
It’s not just the patients who could use a smile, Daniels said, but the families and medical caregivers.
“I think it’s one of our most fulfilling days of the year,” he said. “We all have our stress and our tough moments regardless of our walk of life, and then you come in here and you see the positive attitudes of all these kids and their parents and the medical caregivers here, and it offers perspective on what’s important.”
No Rangers player is better at raising spirits of the young and old than Elvis Andrus.
“He’s one of the guys that all the kids want to see, and he doesn’t take that lightly,” Jones said.
Andrus, wearing a Santa cap like his teammates, made his way across the room, visiting with patients and parents, telling jokes and giving hugs.
“The things they go through on a daily basis and being able to take their mind off of it and joke around with them and have a good time means a lot to them and their families, and it means a lot to us, too,” said Ryan Rua, whose wife is expecting their first child on Opening Day. “It’s always an eye-opener.”