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How Dane Dunning is connecting with Ranger fans on a different Level

Photo: Ben Ludeman/Texas Rangers

How Dane Dunning is connecting with Ranger fans on a different Level

Last season, Dane Dunning made 25 starts and 36 appearances with the Texas Rangers. You’ll see numerous stat sites affiliated with other teammates if you search Dunning. While “Dane Dunning, professional baseball player” or “Dane Dunning, Texas Ranger” has a nice ring to them, that’s not all Dunning wants to be known for by the fans. Dane wants to see people looking at him as this,

“Dane Dunning, dad that plays video games.”

In the past ten months, Dane Dunning went from maybe earning a spot on the Opening Day roster as a reliever, moving to the rotation, he and his wife, Rachel, having their first child, Mack, going to the Postseason, winning the World Series, and finally earning the Rangers’ pitcher of the year (for the second time in three years). But for Dunning, it’s more of relating to fans on other levels like video games, golf, being a genuine normal person, and a dad.

“Even though I’m a Texas Ranger [and] even know I’m now technically, [and] I don’t like saying this aloud in public a lot, but even though I’m a World Series Champion, I want people to know that I am a good father and a good person,” Dane said. “I still do childish things like play video games or something like that. I want to be able to connect to fans that way.”

On Friday, January 26th, Dunning teamed up with MS Society and went to Twitch with a Call of Duty MS Charity event. Dane said over 500,000 unique viewers tuned in for the stream and raised about $30,000 throughout the evening. The stream featured former and current players like Derek Holland, teammate Josh Smith, and Marlins’ Jake Burger, and gamer platforms like ChizPlays, Sparky from Dude Perfect, and Crimsix.

“It was a great time,” Dunning said. “Josh Smith joined up with us [and] that was cool to be able to interact with him in a different setting. We had a great group of guys and had a lot of fun. The biggest thing is just having fun spreading awareness and getting donations for the MS Society so it worked out great.”

Dane said that while a piece of him wants people to associate him as a baseball player, he tries to keep that part behind him and relate to fans on a more personal level.

“I try not to share that knowledge as much as possible,” he said. “I tell people that I play golf a lot now and I’ll meet people on the course and they always ask me what I do and I’m like I travel a lot for work and that’s about it. If they pry deeper, then I might open up to it, but I try not to.”

As for Dane’s offseason, it’s been a tiring one (being a first-time dad) but a rewarding one spending time with his family.

“It’s been an absolute blessing of an offseason,” Dane said. “I’ve had a lot of fun spending some quality time with the wife and kid, and that’s the most important thing for me this offseason was being able to spend that quality time. When baseball is all said and done, they’re still going to be there for me. I hope baseball is around forever and that I get to be Pudge [Rodriguez] and Fergie [Jenkins], but I want to make sure I have a great relationship with my wife and kids and stuff like that.”

Dunning told me he is trying to build up his velocity for the upcoming season. He averaged about 90.5 on his 4-seam fastball (244th among qualified pitchers) and 91 on his sinker (151st). That said, the mindset of the offseason and entering 2024 remains the same. Everything that happened last season happened last season and does not weigh on the upcoming season.

“This next season is just like any other season,” Dane told me. “We got to work for it, grind as much as you can in the offseason, and get to the best point that we can be that way next year when it comes to the season, we’re ready to attack.”

Dunning looks to be in the mix to the Rangers’ rotation for 2024 along with Nathan Eovaldi, Jon Gray, Andrew Heaney, and one other individual (Tyler Mahle, Jacob deGrom, and Max Scherzer won’t be able to pitch the first part of 2024). While Dane isn’t necessarily more pumped for 2024 than any other year, it’s all the same mentally.

“Going into each season, you learn so much you have [and] gain so much experience you learn from a lot for people. Each season is unique,” Dunning said. “Each season, I take it with a blank canvas and paint that picture, and then hopefully, at the end of it, we’re holding that trophy again.”

Texas Rangers pitchers and catchers report in less than three weeks as we approach Valentine’s Day 2024 and here’s hoping 2024 is a good year for “Dane Dunning, dad that plays video games.”

Credentialed Media Staff Writer covering the Texas Rangers for Dallas Sports Fanatic | 2014 University of North Texas graduate with a Bachelor's in Radio, Television, and Film. I talk about things. Find me on the tweeter @aplinckTX

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