Posts Tagged Texas Rangers
This is my August column published in Hill Country Happenings magazine.
There is no fun more than taking man’s best friend to a ballgame. Roxie and Rex could sense that event was nearing days before the game as they watched me pack Rex’s Rangers bandana, Roxie’s red and blue tutu, traveling bowls, treats and a soft, fleece blanket. Unlike last year’s forty-one degree May freeze fest, this year’s June event was in the nineties! Did that keep the dogs from wanting to go? No… All seven hundred and seventy mutts of all sizes and breeds lined the 3rd base building side for ticket pick-up, and then proceeded to the ramp area to “chill” for about thirty minutes. Soon it was time to start the trek through the bowels of the stadium. For Rex, who was alternating his nose between the ground and air, something was missing this year. No hot dog smell — just a lot of human and dog sweat. Meanwhile Roxie was thankful I had nixed the blue T-shirt for her; the layers of blue and red netting were quite enough of a fashion statement. Finally we reached the huge left-field door and both our dogs wagged their tails and yapped. They knew! Showtime! About a quarter of the way into our walk on the perimeter, a Rangers representative pulled us aside and asked if Rex would mind wearing the doggie cam. Rex was all ears as he explained the pup would be filming the walk for the Rangers Insider. (Keep in mind — this is the same dog that got spooked by a moving pod last November!) How could we say no and let the dog down?!? Rex stood stoic as a stature while the cam was strapped on and we couldn’t help but laugh as he looked so official when he started his gait. At one point in the walk Roxie turned around and placed a big slobbery lick on the camera! The remaining stroll around the field was uneventful (unlike last year’s with someone’s dog getting loose and pooping in center field!). I guess it was just too hot for getting in trouble.
Before the game started, Roxie and Rex sprawled under a picnic table watching other dogs splash in inflatable water pools near the concession stands. Meanwhile I hiked to the media elevator to meet up with Susannah, wife of Rangers first baseman Mitch Moreland. I was glad Rick had to stay with the dogs as there was no doubt why the striking blonde was a former Miss Alabama beauty contestant. She and Mitch had met when they were thirteen and fourteen while on vacation. How romantic can you get — he was on the beach throwing a football to his dad. When their vacations ended, he went back to life in Mississippi while she stayed in Alabama. As in all good fairy tales, they dated others and went to different colleges before linking up again on Facebook several years later. They had a storybook outdoor wedding at the Renaissance Ross Bridge Resort in Hoover, Alabama — complete with a wedding party of twenty-six!
The Morelands have a two-year old son. Mitch wanted him to have a baseball name with a unique spelling so he came up with the name “Crue.” The couple also has two labs. The fox-red named “Sage” is a couch potato. “Judd,” a black lab, is a “duck dog in training” since Mitch’s other sport is Bow Hunting. Mitch has tradition at each game — he nods to the stands — that’s his “hi” to Susannah. Her favorite baseball cities when the wives get to tag along? Chicago and Tampa. Our chat then got cut short as player introductions were streaming over the PA system.
Again, a hike back to an impatiently waiting Roxie and Rex. Once at our seats in left field, I was immediately pleased when I spotted Rex’s favorite hot dog vendor working our section. (Last year Rex howled as the guy ignored his request for a wiener. The vendor had chanted, “Ain’t no dogs for you, bud!” Ironically, Rick’s nickname for Rex is “Bud.) This year was another story — it was too hot to bark for the team, much less a hot dog. It was better to just lay on the pavement panting and save the effort for when the crowd cheered. In the bottom of the first, the Rangers struck fast with two runs including a Mitch Moreland RBI. The second inning, we were again on our feet when a homerun was hit just a few feet away from us. It sure got all of our attention and had us deciding who would go after the ball and who would protect the dogs should it happen again. There was a cute brown and white Cocker Spaniel named Cooper to the right of us, two Scotties behind us and a huge Weimaraner a row in front of us that sat in the chair most of the time when he wasn’t rubbing noses with Roxie. We left after the 7th inning stretch with the game tied 5 – 5. By the time we got to the car, the Rangers had erupted with three more runs.
The following night we watched the Rangers Insider to view Rex’s work. Although his name was never mentioned in the piece, we knew that the wearer of the cam was Rex. Did he do a good job? He sure did! Among the classic shots — the up-close view of Roxie’s tongue and the flying slobber. A shot only a proud Boxer Mom would cherish!
It was the Baltimore Orioles at the Texas Rangers. 770 dogs of all sizes and ages paraded around the perimeter of the field during pre-game. Rex was pulled aside by a Ranger rep and asked to wear the dog cam. Rex had some great footage on Rangers Insider on Fox Sports SW the following evening. More of the excitement was with me having an exclusive with Susannah Moreland (hubby is Mitch, first baseman of the Rangers) for my ‘Lotta Sports monthly column in Hill Country Happenings magazine.
‘Lotta Happenings — Chatting with Tom Grieve
Flying for Delta Air Lines provided me numerous opportunities to meet and interact with sports personalities throughout the years. One of my favorites was Tom Grieve, former baseball player as well as General Manager of the Texas Rangers and now TV Analyst for Fox Southwest Sports. Tom and I reconnected during the playoffs last month and chatted about the good ‘ole days.
Tom is from Pittsfield, Massachusetts, which is only twenty-one miles from my hometown, Williamstown. During one of our annual trips back there, Rick & I were watching the Texas Rangers on TV at a pub. I was telling one of my childhood friends, Mike Haddad, how I worked the Rangers charters. Mike was all excited. “You must know Tommy Grieve then!” he responded in that distinct Yankee accent. Rick and I snickered as we never heard Tom referred to as Tommy, but we quickly found that not only was he known as Tommy, but also thought of as a local hero! Tom’s father passed away at the age of ninety-five this year. My dad, a Vermonter, lived to the same age. I told Tom both men had those hardy New England genes. Tom’s mother, in her nineties, still resides in the same house that he grew up in. Our hometowns are almost the same distance to both New York City and Boston. Because of this, fans in the area are split between the Yankees and the Red Sox. Tom remembers at the age of five while “helping” paint the house, a man said to him, “I’ll bet you’re a Red Sox fan.” Being at that age of doing the opposite, Tom thought a moment and then said, “No, I’m not.” The only other team he knew of was the Yankees so he told the man he was a Yankees fan. His favorite player in baseball …. Mickey Mantle, of course.
What did Tommy want to be when he grew up? Not a doctor… not a fireman…not a policeman. He wanted to be a baseball player, just like his idol, Mickey Mantle. He was one of the kids gifted with the ability to hit the ball and was a star at Pittsfield High School. Upon graduation, he was drafted by the Washington Senators, the sixth pick of the first round. His parents were cautiously supportive of his career choice – his mother giving him sage advice “while it’s a nice dream to have, think of other things to do just in case things don’t work out. “ After playing a few years in the minor leagues, Tommy’s dream came true – the call to the majors – July 5th, 1970. When the franchise was moved to Arlington, Texas the following year and became the Texas Rangers, Grieve was the outfielder. The transition from Tommy to Tom occurred. He also picked up another nickname, TAG, his initials. Many ballplayers are known for their superstitions like stepping on one of the bases before running off the field at the end of an inning or spitting into one’s hand before picking up the bat. Tom limited his to if he had a great game, he would wear the same shirt the next outing. Off the field, he kept (and still does) his bills in descending order facing the same way. In 1976, he was Rangers Player of the Year thanks to an abundance of doubles, homers and RBIs. He was injury free except for getting hit by a pitch and being out with a broken wrist for one month in 1977. In addition to the Rangers, he played with the Mets one year followed by the Cardinals.
Tom was lucky that his dream for a career in baseball continued with the Rangers even after his playing days ended. His stints included Group Ticket Sales and General Manager. It was in 1986 that I met Tom while working the Texas Rangers Charters. Our paths also crossed at several of the charity golf tournaments as well as at spring training at Port Charlotte, Florida. One spring I took my mom, in her early seventies, and she was so excited with our seats right off the first base line. As I was introducing mom to Tom, he diplomatically explained that the location of our seats was a pretty popular area for line drives and then relocated us to seats behind home plate. Sure enough, several hard hits were driven toward our previous seats. One year, three of my friends and I were scheduled with the charters taking the team to Milwaukee and bringing them back, so we stayed there at our own expense for that series. Tom let us sit with him in his box at the games. I was thrilled to be talking the mechanics of pitching with him while the other gals shivered in chilly fall temperatures.
After Grieve’s stint as GM, he went on to become a TV analyst for the Rangers and has been in that capacity for nineteen years. He watched his boys also follow a path through baseball. Older son Tim pitched in AA ball and has been a scout for the Detroit Tigers several years and Ben was Rookie of the Year for the Oakland Athletics as well as spent nine seasons in the majors. What was his advice to his sons and others who yearn for a life in the “national pastime”? It’s very similar to what his mother gave him; “Pursue it with all your heart, cover the academic side and don’t put all your eggs in one basket.”
My article below appeared in the June issue of Hill Country Happenings.. Click here for more articles and information about happenings in the Texas Hill Country.
What better way to bond with one’s dog than at a Major League Baseball game and that’s exactly what we did last month! While watching one of the Rangers games, I just happened to catch the promo for their annual Bark in the Park and the next thing I knew I had tickets for my husband Rick and me, along with our two Boxers, Roxie and Rex. The itinerary showed a starting check-in time of 4:00PM. “The game doesn’t start until 7:05PM!” pointed out Rick. “Well, we can’t miss the costume parade and the pre-game ceremonies,” I replied as the dogs looked back and forth at us. The next thing Rick knew, he was hand-stitching a blue and red tutu for Roxie and I was ordering Rex a Ranger bandana. “Seize the moment…” I always say.
Now you’d think a game in May would be a “safe” weather time. Not this year. It just happened to be one of the coldest and there we were at an outdoor baseball game! When we got to the stadium, an orderly line of owners and dogs was already forming at a white canopy at one of the entrances. Being with Rex in public can be like holding a three year old at a funeral. For Roxie & me, it seemed like an eternity to get from the parking lot only a block away. Rex was pulling Rick and being a good “parent,” Rick was patiently correcting him and doing circles to get him in control. Once at the ticket pick-up, I was handed six tickets and two goodie bags each containing dog food samples, a bowl, a blue bandana, coupons for dog food/ treats and a cardboard fan. We didn’t get a whole lot of use out the fans what with temperatures in the low forties with a thirty mile an hour wind.
We were directed to an inside ramp which became our “home” for the next hour and a half. We camped out on the second level in a formed line which turned out to be multitudes of levels of owners and dogs! Rex proved to be a “chick magnet”, especially when the Rangers’ wives came by as they pre-judged the costumes for the parade. Roxie is so calm she’s almost boring and she found a friend in a cute young English bulldog next to us. I was glad to be on the second level as we got to see almost all the creative costumes as the dogs headed to the higher levels and more importantly, it was close to the ladies’ room.
Just before six o’clock the line was escorted down through the bowels of the stadium. The smell of ballpark food wafted through the air and Rex began to drool. Every time the line paused, he left a puddle of slobber. Meanwhile Roxie checked out all the other dogs decked out in tutus, but she knew hers was the best because it was made by “Dad” with love! Within a short time we emerged on the perimeter of the ball field. As we approached home plate, Rick and I privately placed bets on which one of our dogs would choose to potty in front of the Rangers crowd and TV viewers. It was
almost a letdown when neither dog did anything. And according to #Rangers Ballpark on Twitter, of the six hundred and eighty-nine dogs at Bark in the Park, only one soiled left field. Actually, we were already at our seats and it was a mixed lab that had slipped its collar and must have felt that center field was a perfect place to relieve itself. Within moments, several pooper scoopers and the mortified owner surrounded the dog. Needless to say, it was a Kodak moment for the Jumbotron as well as my camera!
Rick and I took a seat at each end of our block of seats leaving the area under the four folded-seats open for the dogs. Rex and timid Roxie joined in barking with other dogs in the area as the crowd cheered. As the Rangers pitcher was being announced, the hotdog man proceeded down our aisle. When he chanted, “Hotdogs! Get your hotdogs!” Rex’s short yaps changed into a gurgling howl. Everyone burst out laughing and as the vendor passed our row, he looked back at Rex and sang, “There’s none for you man…” A dejected Rex sighed and sat down.
Our seats were on the third row and Rex quickly discovered the Rangers left fielder who was in close proximity to us. Rex barked and barked! I explained to him that he needed to wait until the guy in the Chicago White Sox black shirt came out and then distract him instead! The first four innings zoomed by and despite the chilly temperatures, we were having fun. We had several foul balls hit near us and each time we protected the dogs. There were also the fireworks and crowd cheers when the Rangers hit a home run which would get Rex revved up again while Roxie curled up and slept. Rick was ready to leave by the end of the fifth inning and as we packed up our belongings, Chicago scored three runs. “We’re ‘outta here!” says my hubby. Rex and I clearly weren’t ready to leave but we accommodated the other two. Minutes later we were back in our warm car getting lost in the labyrinth of streets surrounding the ballpark while the dogs snored in the back seat.
Would I do it again? Yes…..I assure you……We’ll be back next year!