Josh Hamilton moved into the starting outfield picture for the 81st All-Star Game on July 13 in Anaheim, and he could thank a mother of two in Fort Worth at least in part for his top-three outfielder ranking in Monday's latest American League voting update.
Yes, Alice Cedillo can take a little credit for that. She entered the week as the Rangers outfielder's Campaign Manager on MLB.com. Any fan can join a candidate's campaign staff as the newest 2010 wrinkle in professional sports' largest All-Star balloting program, and she had earned enough points through campaigning to reach the top.
That was great news to Cedillo, who said she was planning to attend this Midsummer Classic at Angel Stadium no matter who is there. She is hoping the momentum continues and that Hamilton starts in the outfield -- even though she knows full well that his prime competition right now is teammate Nelson Cruz.
"There is no one else I would rather see starting outfield than the one and only Hambone!," Cedillo said in an e-mail to MLB.com. "That's why I am doing the campaign and have been beyond blessed to be Josh Hamilton's Campaign Manager.
"I'm also doing it because I was a big fan of Josh's. After reading his book 'Beyond Belief,' I became a huge fan. After he autographed the book for me, I became his greatest fan.
"He has always been a great player, since his Little League days. He has given his heart to the Texas Rangers and I know his fans appreciate what he brings to the game -- even on bad days. He is the epitome of second chances; someone to look at and know there is hope. He is a man of integrity and shows that through his actions both on and off the field."
MLB.com talked to various Campaign Managers and the players they support, and Cedillo was one of the first to respond to the invitation. Fans like her have gotten creative through social networking, using all available means to get the word out.
Here's how it works: After voting with the 2010 All-Star Game Sprint Online Ballot at MLB.com, you are presented with the option to help support the campaign of any of the 17 players for whom you just voted.
If you select a player to help support, like Cedillo did with Hamilton, MLB.com begins tracking every vote that fan helps generate for that specific player -- from Facebook, Twitter or MLB.com links that you forward to friends, leading to that specific player getting a vote.
Fans generating the most votes have their names/aliases appear on a player campaign page. That is where the fun comes in -- seeing your name associated in that way with a Major Leaguer like Ryan Zimmerman or Dustin Pedroia or Miguel Cabrera, no matter what the position on the campaign team. The list is updated every day to reflect the top three fans per player. Fans move up in rank based on the following point system:
For entering, you get 25 points;
Every referral gets you 25 points;
Every vote that referral makes gets you 1 point.
The All-Star Game Campaign HQ Tiers are:
25 points: Campaign Volunteer
50 points: Senior Campaign Volunteer
100 points: Campaign Assistant
200 Points: Senior Campaign Assistant
350 Points: Campaign Coordinator
500 points: Senior Campaign Coordinator.
The Senior Campaign Coordinator is the highest level you can reach unless you are one of the top three spots. The No. 1 Points Earner becomes Campaign Manager, No. 2 is Deputy Campaign Manager, and No. 3 is Assistant Campaign Manager. It will change regularly, depending on the activity of everyone participating in the campaign. You might see yourself as Campaign Manager, reload the page and find that you just slipped to Deputy.
Just being able to say that she was Hamilton's Campaign Manager for at least part of this voting period added some extra gratification for all that hard work.
"I posted the campaign on my Facebook page and sent it to all the contacts in my online phonebook," Cedillo said. "The last Rangers game I went to was on June 7. I encouraged anyone and everyone to vote for Josh Hamilton. Even when they said they wanted to vote for someone else, I was like, 'You can vote for three outfielders. Just make sure one of your votes is for Josh!' It doesn't take much time at all -- just doing something good for someone great."
Will she be disappointed if she shows up for the game and he is not starting?
"Yes. I put an enormous amount of money into attending the game not to see my hero in that case," she said. "But will I have any regrets? No. I'm glad I took a small step in campaigning for the one athlete who I believe deserves it among all others
"After it's all said and done, Josh Hamilton will still be ranked high on my all-time All-Star list. I'm a true-blue Texas Rangers fan. I love MLB and I live for this game."