FanPost

My Life as a Texas Ranger

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There's a scene in the movie City Slickers where the lead character Mitch tells the story of his first baseball game.  It's that old tale about going to Yankee Stadium as a kid.. with your dad.. and remembering the colors and smells.. and how Mickey Mantle capped the game off with a big hit.. and how his dad taught him to keep score.. and how it was the greatest day of his life..

..whatever.

I don't remember the first game I went to - I was too young.  The only things I know to be true about my first game is that it was at Arlington Stadium, it was the Rangers, and that the area underneath the right-field bleachers smelled like tinkle

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I grew up in south Arlington in the late 80s.  My dad worked as a vendor at the ballpark during the summer for extra bread.  I remember him buying me and my younger brother our first pack of Topps in 1987 from the Howdy Doody Grocery on Sublett and Matlock.  In his first pack, my brother pulled a Ruben Sierra

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I was jealous - Ruben was mom's favorite player, which is why we always sat in right field, but moreso, I didn't get a Ranger in mine.  Naturally this lead me to buy more and more cards, and it took me a few Fridays of saving change, buying packs, crying like a weener when I wouldn't get a Ranger.. until the day I finally pulled an Oddibe McDowell. 

And that's pretty much my first memory of being a Rangers fan.

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 We went to Photo Day in '89.  Here we are with Ranger greats Toby Harrah and Cecilio Guante

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Julio... just didn't have the time

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The late 80s and early 90s were always disappointing.  I was too young to understand the logistics of the ballclub - it always seemed like we'd get off to a great start, be in first or second at the All-Star Break and then stink it up in August and September.  Bobby Valentine was a cool guy I guess.  He had a restaurant in South Arlington and would drop in occasionally and sign autographs for everyone. 

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My aunt married some rich guy with silver hair around that time.  He had tickets to every Ranger game!  whoa!  four rows up from the visitor's dugout!  He was my favorite uncle of all time

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In those days, Bo Jackson was the big star - he always brought a crowd to the park.  The reason why it doesn't look like it in this picture is because it was taken on a Sunday in September when the Rangers were 10 back of the Royals.  My refrigerator magnet standings prove so

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I heard a lot about Pudge around the time of his call-up - a 20 year-old catcher who had a laser to second base and would someday be as good as Johnny Bench.  I watched his debut at Comiskey on TV with my father.  When he threw out his second would-be base-stealer of the night, I turned to my dad and declared that I had a new favorite baseball player.  Many years and an autrographed MT condition '91 Bowman rookie later, he is still the greatest player I've ever seen play the game 

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I don't have too many pictures of the Ballpark opening in 1994.  My aunt divorced the rich guy and we pretty much lost dibs on season tickets

I did go to the All-Star Game in '95 though - it was my first taste at seeing baseball on a national scale

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My mother and I made it to the clincher in '96, when they hung the 'F' card on the left-field scoreboard, but I couldn't find any pictures 

I did find this one though - it's of me and my uncle during the '99 playoffs - last game of the year 

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His family was in town at the time so we decided to scoop up a whole bunch of tickets and go as a big group.  This is the last photo I have of me with him.  He passed away from a malignant brain tumor a year or so later.  Note the scoreboard prompts that read 'You Gotta Believe' - one of life's cool little moments I suppose

 

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I stopped watching the Rangers shortly after the A-Rod signing.  I was getting more involved with college and girls and wasn't real impressed with the direction the team was going

I never forgave Tom Hicks and John Hart for all those terrible signings in the beginning (John Rocker?...wtf.??).  They threw money around thinking it would solve problems.  And it took me a good seven years before I started watching the team again

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The Brandon McCarthy trade is what ultimately got me interested again.  I heard a lot of great stuff about Danks, but didn't know a thing about the guy we traded him for.  It became apparent by June BMac had little else but a bag of injuries.  Ranger hopelessness settled in

It was around this time that I discovered Lone Star Ball.com.  I can't recall how I got here, just that I kept coming back.  The flurry of trades that eventually followed kept me around for good - LSB allowed me a range of opinions and ideas instead of confining me to the worldview of newspaper writers or their talk-radio cronies.  I got a sense in the community that something was going to change.. and I've never looked back. 

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The Ron Washington era is not the final chapter of this story, just where it ends today.  The last few years were met with a lot of challenges, a lot of patience and, ultimately, perserverance.  I've always believed he'd be the one to lead us to the promised land, and am fortunate I was able to jump on board when I did and be a part of it when I could

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One of the things I still look forward to in this lifetime is getting to play a game of catch with my kid, when I have one.  I'll get to show them how to play, to appreciate the history, patience and strategy of the game, the same way my parents did with me I guess. 

And they'll do it wearing red and blue

Thank you Texas Rangers

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