Next spring Arlington will celebrate its 50th anniversary as a Major League city, and this year seems to be setting the stage to commemorate the privilege of being one of the few places in the world hosting the National Game.
On that stage we’ve seen a dramatic reminder of the passion that people everywhere have for baseball. It came with a game between the New York Yankees and Chicago White Sox that was played last month on the Field of Dreams in Iowa.
Staged in a cornfield, it was a game between two teams vying to make the playoffs in October, and it’s hard to imagine how the outcome could have been more exciting. Reminiscent of the 1989 Academy Award nominated movie, it brought back all the reasons our country has been devoted to baseball for more than 150 years.
The FOX Sports nationally televised game, drawing an audience of almost six million fans, was the most watched regular season game in 16 years.
In the end, it confirmed the famous Terrance Mann quote from the movie, “The one constant through all the years has been baseball. Baseball has marked the time. This field, this game: it’s part of our past. It reminds us of all that once was good and it could be again.”
Our hometown has now been linked to all of that for five decades and, even in a year when our Texas Rangers are mired in last place, attendance at our new Globe Life Field has, as of this writing, exceeded that of all but two other of the Major League’s 30 teams.
If you are looking for evidence of support for the Rangers as they work their way through a multi-year rebuilding process, you can find it on the occasion last month of the addition of two new members into the team’s Hall of Fame.
In an hour-long, on-field ceremony, more than 30,000 fans witnessed the induction of public address announcer Chuck Morgan and third baseman Adrian Beltre as the Hall’s newest members.
Both of these men add significantly to the Rangers’ legacy at the national level.
No other announcer can match Chuck’s 39-year record of never missing a single game, 3,000 of them and counting, in his on-going career behind the microphone.
Former Rangers President Tom Schieffer describes the essence of Chuck’s devotion: “The secret to Chuck Morgan’s success is that he loves baseball, ballparks and the fans who find a special place in their hearts for the greatest game ever played.
“Whether it is to the little kid who is seeing their first Major League game or the wizened veteran keeping score for his thousandth game, Chuck wants them to have a memorable, fun time. When you hear Chuck’s distinctive voice at the game you feel like you have been welcomed home. You know that the smile in his voice comes from the joy in his heart for a game he truly loves.”
Adrian Beltre is destined to join Nolan Ryan and Pudge Rodriguez as a first-ballot entrant into the National Baseball Hall of Fame. For eight years, Rangers fans got to see the performance of a player who, as described by MLB columnist Richard Justice, “Checked every box as a player, teammate, winner and personality.
“He was such a complete player that the numbers blur at times. He was a five-time Rawlings Gold Glover winner, a four-time All-Star and collector of MVP votes in his seasons with the Rangers. In that way, he became one of the faces of an entire franchise as the Rangers made the playoffs five times.”
In Adrian’s words, “I try to lead by example. Play the game the right way and something good will come out of it. I want to be a role model.”
He was and is. The image here of the youngsters and a couple of not-so-youngsters seeking his autograph is strong evidence that baseball’s legacy has already entered the next generation.
And it all plays out in Arlington, Texas.