In September of 1984, I was four months into my first job in sportscasting. I was a sports reporter at WJRT-TV in Flint Michigan. And on a balmy September night the team of my
childhood clinched the division title.
After starting that season 35-5, the Detroit Tigers were paying it off – they were headed to the playoffs and ultimately the World Series. I did my first live shot that night from a champagne-wet, beer-soaked clubhouse in old Tiger Stadium. I will never forget the look on Lance Parish’s face when he popped a cork and it hit me right in the cheek.
He looked like he thought I was going to sue him. I actually wanted to ask him to sign the cork. But I didn’t – it was my first year on the job and all. So while I have loved every minute of this career, baseball was my first love.
Fast forward to July 4, 2020. The strangest Independence Day of my life. I did not spend it at a parade or a picnic or watching fireworks. I spent it covering the Rangers second spring training. Just sitting in the press box at Globe Life Field wearing a mask with a bird’s eye view of
guys practicing baseball. I am not sure I have ever felt a greater sense of freedom than I did that day. I was so glad that baseball was back!
Every day for the next three months I had a reason to go to the ballpark. The second training camp of 2020 took us to the end of July, then there was the 60-game schedule which got us to the end of September. Every night I was there at the brand new Globe Life Field, as happy as I have ever been to broadcast baseball.
But something was missing: You!
All of you were missing the opportunity to experience this place. This beautiful new cathedral. Most of you saw me broadcasting from there each night, you saw me exploring every nook and cranny of the place and trying to share just how great it was. Still when you saw me you would ask, “how is it?”
I was effusive, every time extolling the virtues of the new palace and the character and the sight lines and the A/C. Still I was a little nervous for all of you to see for yourselves.
I hoped you would like it as much as I did.
In October, Major League Baseball threw us all a bone and assigned the National League playoffs and World Series to Globe Life Field. This is when I got the first indication that you would like it as much as me. There were plenty of you who couldn’t have cared less about the Padres or the Rays or even the Dodgers. But you got tickets, and you came out to the new ballpark. The sample size among Rangers fans was small but the reviews were great. Like me, you loved this place.
So here we are halfway through the first season, when fans are allowed at the new park and the reviews remain great.
It might look like a hanger from the outside, but how much time do you spend outside? Once inside, you see it: the character, the comfort. There are subtle reminders of the beloved Globe Life Park, like when you are sitting in the outfield and look back towards home plate. The press box and broadcast booths look very similar to the one we loved across the street.
Here’s how I know you are enjoying it: The Rangers lead all of MLB in attendance. You are showing up in droves. And, believe me, the team has noticed. Last month they came home after a record-setting losing streak on the road. In the first game at home they beat the team that had the best record in the American League, the Tampa Bay Rays, who had represented the AL in past year’s World Series.
As he walked off the field that night, former Tampa Bay farm hand Nick Solak praised the fans, “They make so much noise. It’s really fun to win in front of them,” he told my colleague at Bally Sports, Emily Jones.
Rangers manager Chris Woodward noticed, too. “With the fans, it just gave us a lot of momentum,” he said. “You’d have never known we’d lost nine in a row.”
During last month’s sweep of the Astros the crowd was whipped into a frenzy and it gave a glimpse of the future. This team will get better and better. And while I don’t know if they will ever start a season 35-5, I can’t imagine how loud Globe Life Field will be if they do.