Baseball history is six outs away as Shelly Adams briskly navigates through the basement of the Rangers Ballpark in Arlington.
She arrives at a playroom for "Little Rangers Buckaroos" to fetch 10-month-old Kaiden and 4-year-old Keira.
"We have to go meet Daddy," she explains to her little girl in pigtails and cowboy boots. "There's going to be a celebration."
Minutes later, it's raining ticker tape as Texas pitcher Mike Adams trots across the diamond and hoists his daughter into his arms.
"One day hopefully she'll remember that and she’ll somewhat understand what I felt," he says.
From Lubbock to Laredo, the Lone Star State is reveling in the Rangers' second straight American League championship and Adams, a native Texan, can't believe his luck.
Less than three months ago, the premier setup man was with the last-place San Diego Padres. He arrived at work on July 31 thinking he was about to become a closer because teammate Heath Bell seemed destined to be traded. Instead, it was the 33-year-old Adams who was told to pack his bags.
Two days later he took the mound for his favorite childhood team, and his big boss is now Nolan Ryan, the Rangers’ legend he grew up emulating.
"It's the best thing that’s ever happened to me in baseball," Adams says. "At the beginning of the season I would have never thought I would have ended up in Texas and competing for a World Series."
Mike Adams was raised in Sinton, a quiet South Texas country town 370 miles from Arlington.
"Coming to the Dallas-Fort Worth area was like a wow for them," says Nelda Chapa, an aunt who had Adams and his siblings stay with her each summer in the 1980s.
The vacations always included trips to the old Arlington Stadium, where the "Ryan Express" pitched from 1989 to 1993.
"Michael was so anxious to be at the games," Chapa recalls. “That was my thrill, to see that excitement in his face."
So fast-forward to this past Sept. 23. The night was like déjà vu for Chapa, who was in the stands to see her nephew and the 2011 Rangers clinch the A.L. West title.
"He had a grin from cheek to cheek," Chapa says. "That was so neat to have watched. He was like a little boy again."
But this time around it was Ryan watching Adams pitch a scoreless eighth to help the Rangers' cause. Adams admits the reversal of roles is still a bit surreal.
"It's one of those things where you want to go out there and make him proud because of who he is and what he meant to me growing up," Adams says.
Unlike Ryan, the lean and lanky Adams is not your typical Texan.
"I love fishing,” he says. "But I don't hunt, I don't wear cowboy boots and I don't listen to country music."
His Texas vices are the Dallas Cowboys and Whataburger fast food, both minutes from his new ballpark home.
"This is the perfect place for me," says Adams, who will be a free agent after the 2012 season. "Hopefully I'm here beyond next year and for a while."
That would bring smiles to South Texas too. Adams has dozens of aunts, uncles, cousins and other family members who can now catch his fastballs and sliders on local TV.
"You can tell the difference from the time he was in San Diego to when he is back in Texas," says Nelda Chapa, who now lives in San Antonio. "All the towns around here are buzzing."
Leading the charge is 77-year-old Amelia Chapa, his maternal grandmother who blesses Adams from her easy chair.
"She gets real excited when she sees him," her daughter says. "She'll do the Sign of the Cross so that he’ll do good with his pitching."
That kind of affection isn’t lost on Adams. He throws hard, but his heart is soft.
"Family” is tattooed across his left collarbone. The names of his children are inked on each arm and stitched on the backs of his baseball spikes.
"The one thing that’s always going to be there is my family,” he says.
It's why Kaiden and Keira were rushed to the field last Saturday.
"She doesn't understand the World Series,” Shelly says. "She just knows the season isn't over."
-- Jason Sickles is the Dallas editor for Yahoo!
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