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So...as far back as I can remember, I’ve been a Texas Rangers fan. Some of my earliest memories are of going to the games at old Arlington Stadium with my parents, back in the 70s. My dad still talks about how, when I was very young, I insisted on keeping score at the games -- he tells how I would sit in my seat, hat pulled down on my head, glove on one hand, and a pencil in the other, as I meticulously kept score at the age of 6 or 7.
Back then, there were just a couple of pro sports teams in D/FW to follow...the Mavericks didn’t exist until 1980, and the Stars didn’t move to town until the 90s. The Cowboys were the biggest game in town, but we lived in southwest Fort Worth and Irving was a long ways away, while Arlington Stadium was closer, cheaper and less crowded, not to mention more frequent. So for my family, trips to the ballpark were regular events, and I started becoming obsessed with baseball.
Helping me on that journey was the fact that my dad’s aunt spent most of her life working for Tom Vandergriff, the former Arlington mayor who was instrumental in bringing the Rangers to Arlington. His dealerships sponsored the media guides the Rangers issued before each season, and knowing I was a fan, she would procure a copy for me each year. As a nerdy, loner child, I would spend hours pouring over the guides, analyzing the details of Rangers players’ biographies and historical stat lines, ready to spout out random facts at the games.
That analytical obsession only increased when someone (I don’t know who) got me the Macmillan’s Baseball Encyclopedia, with stats through the 1975 season. In those pre-internet days, you couldn’t just look up historical facts online whenever you want...but with the giant, 1000+ page Macmillan, you had all that data in print form. I can’t imagine how much of my childhood was spent going through that book, looking at individual player data, each season’s information for each team, the all time leader boards.
Back then, the games were broadcast on WBAP 820, and during baseball season, lying in bed listening was a nightly ritual. I was one of those obsessives, wanting to listen to the pre-game, the whole game, then the post-game report (assuming I hadn’t dozed off beforehand). On those rare occasions a game was televised, I was glued to the TV — I remember one of those times was August 27, 1977, when Bump Wills and Toby Harrah had back-to-back home runs off of Yankee pitcher Ken Clay. As a kid, getting to see history be made on television by “my team” seemed magical.
My middle school years dove-tailed with one of the worst stretches in franchise history, in the early-80s, but I kept the faith, and ended up being rewarded by the Tom Grieve/Bobby Valentine years, which brought fun, and oftentimes winning, baseball. I learned about guys on the farm like Ruben Sierra, and later Juan Gonzalez and Pudge Rodriguez, guys who I was sure would lead the Rangers to greatness.
Come 1990, I moved to Austin, away from D/FW, but bought the Dallas Morning News each morning to keep up with Rangers news, would watch games on TV down there or listen to them on the radio. They finally made the playoffs in 1996, for the first time, then in 1998 and 1999, only to fall short.
By 1999, I had moved again, to Houston, for law school, and had people urging me to switch allegiances. Especially after I graduated and started my practice, people asked, why are you still a Rangers fan? You’re a Houstonian now, you should switch to the Astros.
I couldn’t fathom that. Switch? Stop being a Rangers fan? The very notion was unthinkable. I’ve been a Rangers fan all my life, from the time I was a very small child. This is the time I’ve always rooted for. Its in my blood. I can’t change -- wouldn’t want to change — now.
And so it is now...I’ve been a Rangers fan for over 40 years, and hopefully, will be a Rangers fan for more than 40 years more. Why am I a Rangers fan? I was just born one, I guess.
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