John Blake puts everyone else in the spotlight, and that explains why you may not recognize his name. It’s way past time for him to emerge from the background and be appreciated as one of Arlington’s best friends.
His installation in August into the Texas Rangers Baseball of Fame provides just the opportunity for us to applaud his 34 years of advancing our city to the center of the national stage.
Being among only 28 cities privileged to host a major league baseball team is a good starting place. But, we always have to remind the national sports media that the Rangers are our team and not that of one of our bigger neighbors.
During his long career, first as Director of Media Relations and now as Executive Vice President of Public Affairs, John has been, and is today, the person who awakens national reporters to the realization they are covering the Texas Rangers in Arlington.
What’s especially important during the times we have hosted the All Star Game, two Rangers’ World Series, and 52 postseason games. I’m not sure it came up, but John almost certainly would have noted that it also was Arlington that hosted the 2022 COVID-year playoffs and World Series.
It’s on those occasions when the opportunity presents itself to highlight our 50 years as a major league city and how we became and sustained that sought-after celebrity, overcoming in the beginning great odds against us, and later, challenges to our future that the people of Arlington won twice with their votes.
Importantly, all that story is now on constant display across the concourse walls and hallways in the new Globe Life Field. John Blake is a primary source of how that remarkable story unfolds annually for the current generation of two to three million baseball fans and those to come in years ahead.
All of what he does can be traced to the fact that he is a consummate baseball fan dedicated to the success of the Texas Rangers. In his induction speech, former General Manager and fellow Hall of Fame member Tom Grieve gave a tribute to John that included stories of his passion. On occasion when he emerged from his focused attention supporting all the game’s media, Tom said, “[John] probably broke press box etiquette but, in doing so, he showed how much he cared.
“John transformed and modernized the public relations department. He brought credibility and respect to the franchise by developing a culture of trust and honesty with the media, both locally and nationally.
“He made the Rangers PR department ‘Major League’ in every way and became one of the most respected people in his field.
“John has been that one constant for the Texas Rangers, guiding the franchise through  managers, six general managers, and five ownership groups, not to mention three different stadiums, division and league titles, two world series, a bankruptcy, the steroid era and a pandemic.
“Along the way, John has been recognized throughout baseball for overall excellence in his field.”
A standout in his career was John’s promotion of Nolan Ryan’s remarkable achievements in pitching records that will never be broken. Tom Grieve included in his remarks this somewhat hidden tribute: “Nolan was so moved by John’s national PR effort to promote the milestone of his 5,000th strikeout that he later told long-time Rangers media pro T. R. Sullivan that it was a big factor in deciding to keep pitching after his first year with the Rangers.”
All that happened in Arlington, and we have one of baseball’s premier public relations professionals to thank for the notoriety.
Grieve’s closing words as he introduced John to the podium sum it up nicely: “Congratulations, John, and welcome to the Texas Rangers Hall of Fame – it wouldn’t be a hall of fame without you in it!”