TEMPE, Ariz. — New Angels slugger Josh Hamilton ruffled some feathers in Texas on Monday when he told a television reporter that the Dallas-Fort Worth area isn’t “a true baseball town,” a statement that is sure to earn him even more boos when the Angels play the Rangers in Texas on April 5.
“Texas, especially Dallas, has always been a football town,” Hamilton, a five-time All-Star with the Rangers, said in an interview with Gina Miller of Dallas-based CBS-TV 11. “They’re supportive, but they also got a little spoiled at the same time, pretty quickly. There are true baseball fans in Texas, but it’s not a true baseball town.”
Texas Manager Ron Washington declined to fuel a war of words, telling Rangers writers, “Josh is an Anaheim Angel. That’s his opinion. There were 3.5 million fans who came through the turnstiles [last season]. That answers it right there.”
But Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News called Hamilton’s statement “a poison-tipped barb at a fan base that did nothing for five years but support him and offer him pretty much a free pass, regardless of the excuse or indiscretion.”
Richard Durrett of ESPN Dallas.com acknowledged that “everyone knows” Dallas is a football town first, “but that doesn’t mean it’s not a baseball town. Hamilton should know better.”
Hamilton offered no apologies after Monday’s workout with the Angels.
“I told them on camera — I said there’s true baseball fans and then there are others that are not,” Hamilton said. “The ones that are true baseball fans won’t boo when I come back, and the ones that are not true fans will.”
Hamilton’s reference to Rangers fans being spoiled has to do with the expectations created by World Series appearances in 2010 and 2011 and the harsh treatment he and the Rangers received from the home crowd after losing last year’s wild-card game to Baltimore.
Hamilton went 0 for 4 and swung and missed at six of the eight pitches he saw in that game.
“I’m not saying I don’t still appreciate them, but reality is reality,” Hamilton said. “I think I’ve always spoken the truth. I don’t beat around the bush. But I loved my time there.”