This particular game is a top-five Ranger memory. Eighteen-year-old Preston was in attendance with a couple of best friends. It was part of our farewell summer tour before we all went off to different colleges.
I remember it being unbearably hot at first pitch. In fact, it was a classic Arlington night in August. 101 degrees at first pitch according to the box score. This Monday night matchup was a fun one despite the heat. The two teams combined for 20 hits, six home runs, and a David Murphy triple.
By the time the ninth inning rolled around, the score was knotted at five runs apiece. The fun was just getting started.
With two outs in the bottom of the ninth, Josh Hamilton walked to load the bases. Yankees reliever Damaso Marte was having command issues. Here is a quick break down batter by batter:
Milton Bradley saw six pitches while working his way to a walk.
Ian Kinsler saw eight pitches before striking out.
Gerald Laird saw five pitches before earning a walk.
Michael Young saw four pitches before flying out to RF.
Josh Hamilton saw six pitches before earning a walk to load the bases.
Byrd’s walk-off grand slam sent the ballpark into a frenzy. Up to that point, it was the most exhilarating Ranger moment I had ever witnessed in person. Hugging strangers. High-fiving strangers. Yelling in your friend’s faces as they yell back. Fireworks going off. “Lets Go Rangers” chants echoing through the concourse well after the game.
If we’re being totally honest, it was made even sweeter since it came at the expense of the Yankees.
I’m reminded why I love the game of baseball every time I think back on that game.
For an eighteen-year-old living out his last summer with his best high school buddies, it was a perfect walk-off.
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