Michael Dean Chadwick, Josh Hamilton's father-in-law, likes to describe his new role with a golf metaphor.
"When Josh's golf ball goes out in the woods, I want to be the guy that helps him find it so no one wanders too far off the fairway," Chadwick said by phone Friday morning, a day after the Rangers announced he was hired as a staff assistant, taking over part of the role that Johnny Narron handled since Hamilton was traded to Texas prior to the 2008 season. "And by the way, we all need that guy."
Chadwick has a unique relationship with Hamilton that goes beyond merely being an in-law. Hamilton, as he writes in his 2008 book "Beyond Belief," showed up at Chadwick's door in September 2003, struggling to get a hold of his life. Chadwick, who battled drug addiction early in his life, listened to Hamilton's story and was honest and straightforward with him, as Hamilton notes in the book.
"I took a look at him and I knew how bad a shape he was in," Chadwick said. "I wasn’t sure how much of what he told me was true, but I knew if any of it was true, I couldn't let him leave. He'd been through something like eight rehabs and was down probably 70 or 80 pounds. I talked to my wife and we knew we couldn't let him go. The only way to get Josh back was to love him back."
That's how Hamilton got to know his future wife, Katie, too.
"She rocked his world," Chadwick said. "He married a tough broad, I can tell you that. Katie has seen her mom and dad -- and we've been married 35 years -- go through some tough things. I came home twice saying we'd lost the house today. When you're a homebuilder, you go through big highs and big lows. She's buried her brother [Michael was 8 years old and hit by a car crossing the street at a wedding in 1992]. She's seen her father when he was the worst husband ever. She’s amazing.”
Chadwick is convinced that Julia, Hamilton's first daughter, helped him survive some of the toughest parts of his life.
"I'll go to my grave believing Julia saved that boy's life," Chadwick said. "No matter how bad it got, he was always so careful around her. He was thinking about her."
Chadwick is proud of how far Hamilton has come and how strong his faith has become.
"When man gets out of the way and lets God fix it, I know how successful God can be," Chadwick said. "It's an amazing thing.
"Having four little girls will change anybody, I don’t care who you are. But Josh, in my opinion, was born to be a daddy. He is a great dad. He doesn’t care if they are playing dolls or going to a school play, he's there for them."
Chadwick is looking forward to spending more time with Hamilton, as he will travel on the road with the club.
"This isn’t just about Josh," Chadwick said. "I take care of anybody in my family, it doesn't matter who it is. This particular opportunity is not foreign to me at all. I already do this. I told him that. I can’t help Josh on the baseball field, but I’m going to keep us between the lines and make sure nobody else gets in between the lines that shouldn’t be there. I’m sure I’ll build some friendships along the way. I already know some guys on the team and I want to get to know more of them."
Chadwick said he told Rangers general manager Jon Daniels recently that Hamilton still hasn't reached his peak as a player.
"I told him the best of Josh Hamilton is still to come. And if I were you, I'd stick around and watch," Chadwick said. "I was with him last week and the life inside of him is real and fun. It was 1 a.m. and I walked outside and he was smiling, saying he'd just had the greatest workout.
"Watch him before a game. Every time he takes a ball and signs it or pats a kid on the head, he's saying thanks for being here. He knows that kids are looking up to him and he does not take it lightly. It's a genuine sincerity. It's a gift. It's a part of him. He has so much to be grateful for and he knows it. That's the best part."