ARLINGTON, Texas -- Former Ranger Josh Hamilton brought it up himself upon Friday's return to Arlington to face his old team. His spring training comment that "Texas, especially Dallas, has always been a football town."
Hamilton doesn't regret saying it, he said before Friday's game pitting his Angels and Rangers. But he did admit to it creating a firestorm during his pregame press conference.
"This whole football town thing has been an absolute nightmare," Hamilton said.
Hamilton did his best to explain himself, saying his first memory in 2008 during his first season with the Rangers was coming to the ballpark on Friday nights and seeing 10,000 fans in the stands after 20,000 or more the night before. He asked then teammate Marlon Byrd what was up.
"I said, 'What's going on? Where is everybody at?'" Hamilton said Friday. "And he said, 'High school football has started.' I was like, 'Oh.'"
Hamilton, who was a part of the Rangers' first two American League championship teams in 2010 and '11, said he was proud to watch the stands fill up on Friday nights and every game with each season.
"It was cool to see in 2008 and 2009 it got better and better," Hamilton said. "In 2010, it got even better. And by the end of the season in 2010, there were 50,000. It was fun to be a part of. I'm glad I could be a part of it and help the fan base grow."
Hamilton said Friday that Rangers fans who approached him for autographs or during his many speaking sessions at the ballpark know that he always speaks the truth, about his life, his recovery from substance abuse and, apparently, his take on baseball in Texas.
He said if he wasn't always transparent, fans would see through him.
Here's Hamilton's entire comment to CBS Dallas-Fort Worth television station about Texas being a football town and the fans that came out during a TV interview in spring training:
"Texas, especially Dallas, has always been a football town. The good with the bad is they're supportive, but they also got a little spoiled at the same time, pretty quickly. You can understand a really true, true baseball town. There's true baseball fans in Texas but it's not a true baseball town."
So does Hamilton want to take back what he said?
"I can't and I'm not going to take back anything I said," he said. "I don't say things to hurt people intentionally. I don't. I can't expect to please everybody and think everybody will like me."