The present Andrew Boyd received in his stocking this past Christmas became a reality Tuesday at BB&T Coastal Field.
Boyd, a 10-year-old from Kingstree, was among the sellout crowd of 6,599 in attendance to witness the first appearance in Myrtle Beach by a Major League Baseball team, as the reigning American League champion Texas Rangers played an exhibition game against Coastal Carolina.
Rangers stars including 2010 AL Most Valuable Player Josh Hamilton, Adrian Beltre, Ian Kinsler, Michael Young and Elvis Andrus mingled with autograph seekers, took batting practice and played a nine-inning game just three days before their home opener.
Ann Boyd transported a handful of children from the Kingstree and Sumter areas, and they got the autographs of Hamilton and other Rangers down the first-base line.
"It's been incredible. The kids have been so excited," Ann Boyd said. "It's a very special day to see these home run heroes like Josh Hamilton crank it out of the park."
Andrew Boyd's favorite team is the Phillies, but the Rangers made some ground up Tuesday, at least enough to become his favorite American League squad.
The Rangers, who replaced the Atlanta Braves in September as the parent club of the Myrtle Beach Pelicans, got a look at their organization's new Advanced Class-A home.
"Nobody wants to go on the [disabled list], but I think they're all hoping they get to rehab here," Rangers general manager Jon Daniels said.
The team arrived in Myrtle Beach late Monday night and woke up to the sights and sounds of the Atlantic Ocean after spending spring training in the Arizona desert.
"I didn't know we were staying that close to the water until I woke up this morning and decided to open up the curtains, and there's the water," Rangers manager Ron Washington said. "We're happy to be here, and I certainly hope the young kids had a good time playing against us."
CCU junior shortstop Taylor Motter was among the Chants who surrounded Hamilton in right field prior to batting practice, as Hamilton held court for more than a half-hour.
"It's real cool to see that they're here not to just play baseball but to actually talk to us, let us know what it's like to play at the next level, let us know everything's cool and we're just going out to play a game like they do every day," Motter said. "Just hanging out with him and being around him is a great thing. I hate to say we're still in awe, but we're all still in awe. ...
"We're real happy they decided to come out here and give us a chance to have a good day, turn around and have a great night and just play baseball."
Hamilton was one of the more active and accessible Rangers. He was on the field four hours before the game, and in addition to the time he spent with the Chants, he signed autographs for more than a half-hour and interacted with spectators in several areas of the stadium.
"We play where other kids strive to get to," Hamilton said. "You always want to take time out to share with them some experiences you've had and what you've learned. The quicker they learn that it's just a game, there should be no pressure involved in it and it should be fun, the better off they'll be."
Hamilton grew up in Raleigh, N.C., and said he came to the Grand Strand only once for a spring break baseball tournament when he was 14. He was reintroduced not only to Myrtle Beach but to another Carolinas staple Tuesday.
"It's been a long time since I had Bojangles," Hamilton said. "As soon as we landed that was all I could think about. So I woke up this morning and went to Bojangles and loved every minute of it."
The Chants and Myrtle Beach baseball fans undoubtedly loved every minute of the visit from the AL champs just as much.