Arlington enters the New Year hosting the nation’s World Series championship team.
We’ll be celebrating it throughout the coming months and especially on Opening Day of March 28. That’s when the World Series banner will be proudly raised in its permanent home at Globe Life Field.
And, regardless of whether or not the Rangers repeat the feat, it is a first-time triumph for the team that’s been ours for 52 years.
There are uncountable tipping points in that five-decades of our history with the team – some well known and others that many have never realized.
I’ll share the first of those of my experience in this month’s Finish Line – maybe some more in the months to come.
It was the day after my first election as Arlington’s new mayor in 1987. I thought I should check in with then Rangers owner Eddie Chiles – just as a courtesy to introduce myself to him.
A couple of days later, I called his office and left a message that I would like to talk to him. I got no reply to that call nor a couple more that followed. I surmised that the founder of one of the nation’s largest oil industries, the Western Company of North America, must have a very busy schedule.
My next attempt would be to write him a letter for which I received no reply. The same result came with my next letter a couple of weeks later.
By now, I was concerned there may be some reason he was ignoring me.
My solution was to have my picture taken while riding high on the back seat of a vintage convertible, wearing a Rangers jersey, in front of the big, cheering crowd in the city’s Fourth of July Parade.
I had the photo printed in an 8×10 format and sent it to Mr. Chiles with a note that read: “I thought you would enjoy seeing how much Arlington loves the Rangers.”
It had been since April that I had first reached out to him but in just a couple of days after I had sent that photo, my phone rang and the unmistakable commanding voice of one of the area’s premier figures declared, “This is Eddie Chiles.”
That was the tipping point.
My eager response was to say that I, of course, recognized him, and said I was so pleased to get his call.
His next response was shocking. “I got the picture you sent me, Mayor, but quite frankly, we don’t feel very welcome in your city.”
I asked what made him feel that way. He explained that he had tried to get the city’s help in addressing some city maintenance issues relating to the conditions of the streets and curbs around the stadium parking lots.
I listened to some more complaints on other matters and apologized. Then, I tried to set the stage to cover all of that.
I declared, “Mr. Chiles if you give me a chance, I promise to make it possible for you to tell your MLB fellow owners a your next meeting that none of them has a host city that appreciates their teams more than Arlington does the Rangers.”
We made plans for lunch together where he said he would hold me to that promise and he looked forward to working with us.
Had I just given up making the effort to get him to call me back all those previous tries, likely would have resulted in him telling the next owners of the Rangers, that Arlington would be of no help to them.
Instead Mr. Chiles was able, a year later, to assure George W. Bush when his group contracted to buy the Rangers, that he knew Arlington would work with them. Later he invited me to join him in his Arlington Stadium suite when he was hosting Bush for the game. Eddie introduced me to him as “my good friend.”
I’ve always believed – without that recommendation – the future president, who lived in Dallas, would likely have concluded that the team’s future would be in that city.
Richard Greene is a former mayor of Arlington.