A holiday treat: Getting to recall Ranger history

Texas Health Resource Breast Care Oct 2020

So, great news. We made it! 2020 is almost behind us. The year we never expected to see and thought would never end, is almost over. Here in Arlington we have the opportunity to finish it with a flourish. One of the best Christmas displays you will ever see is just a few miles away at Globe Life Field.

It’s called Luminova Holidays, and it features everything you could ever want in a holiday display. There is an outdoor skating rink and an indoor light display featuring 2.7 million lights. It is staged at the new ballpark, so if you have not been there yet, consider this your chance to see the new park while getting in the Christmas Spirit.

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I will leave it to someone much more fashion-conscious than I to critique the light display, but the first time I saw it was with a bunch of Rangers Alumni. Each year the club has a Christmas party for the former players, but, what with COVID and all, that did not happen this year. Instead, the team invited small groups of alums to come to Globe Life Field and take a tour. I accompanied Kenny Suarez, Rich Hand, Claude Osteen and Hall of Famer Fergie Jenkins.

Our tour was led by Ozzie Garza, a wonderful guide who knows baseball and has given over one hundred tours of the new stadium. Still, there is nothing like touring with former players. On the lower concourse there is a full-wall picture of Arlington Stadium. The photo is taken from high on the first base side of the field. You see the bleachers full of fans, you see the left side of the infield (Buddy Bell and Bucky Dent) and you see Charlie Hough winding up for his first pitch in a Rangers uniform. As Ozzie explained what we were seeing on the wall Ken Suarez raised his hand. He said, “You can’t see the catcher in this photo but that was me!” Someone asked, “Wow how do you catch a Charlie Hough knuckleball?”

Without missing a beat Kenny said, “I would just wait until it stopped rolling and pick it up.”

Elsewhere on the tour is the “Don’t Mess with Texas Wall.” On it you see some iconic photos like Nolan Ryan bleeding all over his jersey after taking a Bo Jackson “comebacker” off the lip. There is a shot of Rougned Odor reminding Jose Bautista that there is an unwritten rule about bat flips. Of course, you remember when Robin Ventura charged the mound to be greeted by Nolan’s right fist to the head. Rich Hand saw that picture and said, “Ventura had seven hits that day. A single and six upper cuts from Nolan.”

There were also a couple of pictures from June 4, 1974. That was 10-cent beer night in Cleveland. The Indians drew more than 25,000 fans to the game for the promotion, which allowed fans to buy 12 ounce beers for a dime. You could only buy six at a time, but there was no limit on how many you could purchase throughout the course of the night. By the ninth inning almost everyone in the stands was drunk. One inebriated fan ran on the field and grabbed Jeff Burroughs hat. Startled Jeff fell to the ground, and, led by manager Billy Martin, the Rangers charged out of the dugout.

Once on the field they were outnumbered 8-1 by the drunk fans, so the Indians players came to the Rangers aid and began fighting their own fans. As Ozzie breathlessly described the brawl and the picture where Mike Hargrove had his fist drawn back and was ready to blast an Indians fan, Fergie politely raised his hand and said, “if I may…”

As it turns out Fergie was the starting pitcher that game and reminded us that a woman who had too much to drink ran on the field earlier in the game and flashed the world from the on deck circle. There was a male streaker later in the game, and just before the riot ensued a father/son combo ran on the field and mooned the dugout and the crowd.

Touring the festive park with former players was like walking in a winter wonderland and walking down memory lane at the same time. It was a really fun night full of baseball, Christmas and memories.

I doubt that Fergie or Rich or Claude or Kenny will be there when you go to Luminova. But if they are, ask them to tell you a story.