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Tales from Texas Rangers ballparks of the past

Tales from Texas Rangers ballparks of the past

2019 marks the final season that the Texas Rangers will play at Globe Life Park in Arlington. Of course we all remember when it opened in 1994 as “The Ballpark in Arlington.” Several years later the Rangers joined the trend of selling the naming rights for ballparks as the park became known as “Ameriquest Field.” There was one cool addition which was a huge bell in left field that would ring after every Texas home run. Ameriquest went bankrupt and it was renamed “Rangers Ballpark in Arlington” or RBiA for short. I still refer it to this day as the “Temple”, a nickname bestowed upon it by Mike Ryhner from 1310 the Ticket, one of the local DFW all-sports stations. A few years ago the naming rights were sold to the Globe Life Insurance company who still own the rights and the rights to the new park that opens next year that will be known as “Globe Life Field.”

But before that the Texas Rangers played at Arlington Stadium from their inception in 1972 until 1993. The following are my favorite memories from the games that I personally attended from both Arlington Stadium and the Temple.

image courtesy of ballparksofbaseball.com

Arlington Stadium

Arlington Stadium was built in the late 60’s and was originally known as “Turnpike Stadium.” It was the host of the minor league D/FW Spurs baseball team. It was designed to be expanded to host a major league baseball team if the opportunity came about. It eventually happened when Arlington Mayor Tom Vandergriff convinced the second Washington Senators franchise (the original had moved to to Minnesota to become the Twins less than ten years earlier) to come to Texas in 1972.

It wasn’t until I was 12 that I became a die-hard Rangers fan. I had went to several games but it wasn’t until high school that my tales begin.

The Picture Booth

I can’t remember the exact date, but there was some construction going on at the Stadium. Arlington Stadium didn’t have escalators. It was all ramps. I went to the game with my best friend David Stanley, Linda Hamrick (who was a classmate’s mom that lived down the street), and her son young Chris. As we’re walking up the ramp, Chris (who was about 8 years-old at the time) gets excited seeing a port-a-potty. He runs up and gets in. He immediately comes out with a disappointing look on his face. He thought it was a picture booth. After that we referred to going to the bathroom by saying, “I’ll be right back. I have to take a picture.”

Rickey Henderson Salutes Us

It was 1989. 19 year-old catching prospect Ivan Rodriguez had been called up by Texas. My buddy David and I were at the first game in which the Rangers, with Ivan catching, faced the A’s. “Pudge” threw out Rickey Henderson twice trying to steal second. After the second time, Henderson came back out to left field. The crowd began chanting “Rickey” really slow. He eventually put one hand behind his back and, well, let’s just say that he wasn’t telling us we were number one.

Taken when the Angels faced the Rangers on September 28, 1996.

The Ballpark in Arlington

Call it what you want now, but for the purposes of this article I am going with the original name because that’s what it was when I first went.

The First Tour

I remember when the Rangers held the first tour of the newly completed ballpark. Everybody had to walk in through the home plate entrance. Walking in and going down to the field was so amazing. It was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen in my life (structurally wise). I could not believe this was favorite team’s new home.

Juan Gonzalez Plays Catch

Okay so this didn’t actually take place at the Ballpark. I was working at a local grocery store as a cashier. We were allowed to wear Rangers’ caps on game nights which I did. My register faced the toy aisle. I see two kids playing with plastic gloves and balls. Suddenly Juan Gonzalez shows up and starts playing toss with the kids. Juan ends up going to the express lane. His translator comes over to me and says “Juan saw your Rangers hat and wanted to talk to you but you were on a busy lane.” I missed a chance.

Pudge’s Son

So I go to a game with three friends, We go to buy tickets and there is this guy standing outside yelling “free tickets!”. My curiosity was piqued so I had to ask. He said that he owned a company and four of his employees didn’t show. So he gave us four ticket that were four rows behind home plate. We’re sitting there soaking it in when this little kid starts coming up to us and others, slapping our legs and having fun. Pudge comes over the railing and restrains the kid who turned out to be his son! At that point I didn’t care. I would have gladly babysat him.

The Press Box

That brings me to this year. I have been writing about baseball since 2011. This year I joined the Dallas Sports Fanatic team. I work with a great group of writers. The first day I got credentialed was so surreal. Being able to walk on the field. Going to the clubhouse. Sitting in the same Press Box with Evan Grant, John Rhadigan, Emily Jones McCoy, Levi Weaver and others is amazing. I hope to keep the dream alive.

Please comment with your favorite memories that you witnessed firsthand. And here’s to future memories at the new Globe Life Field.

Until next time, I’ll see you in the cheap seats!

James Holland is a staff writer for Dallas Sports Fanatic. He's a lifelong fan of baseball and his hometown Texas Rangers. He's also a karaoke addict who hosts shows at his favorite bar in Arlington.

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