It was predictable and fitting that Josh Hamilton was among the first Texas Rangers players to befriend team fan Tyler Morris last week.
Morris is the 25-year-old firefighter who survived a spectacular, scary fall during the Rangers' win over visiting Cleveland on July 6.
While attempting to a catch a foul ball, Morris stumbled over a second-deck railing and landed amid startled fans more than 30 feet below.
Medical personnel called it a near miracle that Morris escaped with injuries described as relatively minor. .
While hospitalized, Morris soon got phone calls from Hamilton, who sent the fan an autographed bat and a jersey that Morris wore upon his release two days later.
"Josh has a fan for life in me," Morris told reporters.
Morris isn't alone, of course.
Lots of folks have been pulling for Hamilton to succeed on and off a baseball diamond for many years. At times during that stretch, those fans could only groan as he struck out flamboyantly on both counts.
At age 29, Hamilton has survived behavioral spills many times since becoming the 1999 No. 1 major league draft pick, by Tampa Bay, following a phenomenal prep career at Athens Drive High School in Raleigh.
After years of up-and-down battles against alcohol and drug addiction, Hamilton finally began to reach his baseball potential in 2007 with the Cincinnati Reds. That was two years after he started winning against drug dependencies.
Now in the middle of his third season with the Rangers, Hamilton's possibilities are almost endless as he starts tonight's All-Star Game in the outfield for the American League.
On a team that leads the AL West Division by 4-1/2 games, Hamilton is tied for the league lead in batting average (.346), tied for second in home runs (22) and is fourth in runs batted in (64).
While the odds are heavily against it, the opportunity is there for Hamilton become the majors' first Triple Crown winner since Boston's Carl Yastrzemski in 1967.
Dating to 1887, there have been only 15 Triple Crown winners. The list includes Ted Williams, who did it twice, Mickey Mantle, Frank Robinson, Ty Cobb, Lou Gehrig, Jimmie Foxx and Rogers Hornsby (twice).
Babe Ruth, Willie Mays and Hank Aaron never did it. Neither did Stan Musial, Ken Griffey Jr., Joe DiMaggio or Mike Schmidt.
Hamilton told reporters recently he's fantasized about the Triple Crown but only to a certain extent.
"Going to the World Series is a lot more important to me," he said. "But you have to believe someone will win one again somewhere down the line. Just because it hasn't happened in almost 50 years doesn't mean it can't be done anymore. You have to stay out of slumps, obviously. You need some luck and no injuries, too. I have confidence I can do those things, but what I really want is a championship."
Along with Seattle and Washington, the Rangers are one of three active teams that have never have reached a World Series.
In fact, the Rangers have won only one postseason game at all and have reached the playoffs only three times, the last time in 1999.
When you add in the 11 seasons (1961-71) the franchise spent in Washington as the Senators, the team has gone longer without winning a playoff series than the majors have without a Triple crown winner.
"No one deserves a championship more than our fans and this team," Hamilton said.
For a team technically in bankruptcy, the Rangers' front office is trying its best to keep the World Series dream a reality.
Lefty ace Cliff Lee was acquired last week from the Seattle Mariners, and slugger Vladimir Guerrero was brought in during the offseason to add more pop to an offense that already included standouts Michael Young, Cruz and Ian Kinsler in addition to Hamilton.
Although the final four games before the All-Star break were deflating losses to Baltimore, the acquisition of Lee will make the Rangers (50-38) a prohibitive favorite to win the West and possibly challenge the New York Yankees, Boston and Tampa as the AL's overall winningest team.
"We have this great opportunity in front of us," Hamilton said. "It's up to us to make the most of it now."
For Rangers fans, even for Morris, a World Series experience would be the best gift of all.