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Rangers Caravan Rolls Into Tyler

Some sports celebrities were in town Wednesday, taking the focus off of scandal headlines in Major League Baseball, and back on the field.  Texas Rangers outfielder Kevin Mench and Fox Broadcaster Josh Lewin signed autographs and passed along wisdom to younger fans at the Boys and Girls Club of East Texas.

For those young fans, the men are more than just ball players. They are heroes, living out a fantasy that began at the same age as many of their young fans.

"I was like really nervous because I've never met really famous people before," said Ruben Espiricueta.

"They're like famous and they're like baseball players for the Texas Rangers," said Kaleb Smith.

Suited up in his Rangers cap and jersey, 8-year-old Tristan Saint is dreaming of the day he will step on to a major league field. "I want to be like one of my favorite players," Tristan said. "It feels great because it's one of your favorite heroes that you want to be them one day."

With a baseball image recently scarred by steroid scandals and the fall of big name stars, teams hope events like this will keep fans' attention to the action on the field.

"We live in a society where things are getting pretty crazy," said broadcaster Josh Lewin. "You know baseball has survived a lot worse than steroids and whatever else comes down the pipe."

For Mench, the event was all about the fans. "I look at them just like kids in my neighborhood," Mench said. "I love spending time with them, its the same. I get the same feeling coming out spending time with these fans."

The signatures the two passed along mean more to the young fans than just marks on paper. It's a symbol of what these kids want to be.

"I look up to them because I want to be like them when I grow up," said Ruben.

Big hopes and big league dreams for these little fans.

Outfielders Lance Nix and Gary Mathews, Jr. join Broadcaster Josh Lewin in Longview Friday from 4:30 pm- 6:30 p.m. at the Longview Skateplex Friday.

Maya Golden reporting
, mgolden@kltv.com

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