Back in March I wrote a little bit about my love/hate relationship with the Texas Rangers. How they're so ingrained in me that I just can't stay away, no matter how maddening they are and how much I dislike their owner. Likewise in that piece, I wrote a little bit about a day when I was a kid....couldn't have been more than seven or eight years old....when my mother took me to a local Dallas rec center to meet a few of my heroes, the then Texas Rangers. I got to meet Chad Kreuter, Scott Fletcher, and Jeff Kunkel (whom all probably work at a Home Depot now...), got them to sign a baseball....seriously-at that point in my life, it was probably the coolest thing....ever. Now fast forward to today....
A few months back when Bob Sturm moved his blog to D Magazine's Inside Corner I became a bit of an avid reader. It's got great content, good writers, and a decent reader base that gives me an oppurtunity to interact with other Rangers fans (all 6 of us.....) during the games. Even better, about a month ago they announced that they'd do a "Home Run Happy Hour." The idea was that a few players would come out, mingle with interested fans, do some Q&A, have drinks....it would be a low key affair at the Pappadeux on Oak Lawn. An awesome idea that got even awesomer when it was announced Michael Young, Ian Kinsler, Marlon Byrdand Chris Davis would be there.....and even more awesomer than that when Derek Holland, Scott Feldman, and Taylor Teagarden agreed to show up (so too did Darren O'Day, but he did not...). The event was scheduled for today at 5:30 at the aforementioned Pappadeux location, and I was stoked-while it made it's rounds on the blogosphere I knew that wouldn't have the mass appeal to make it a circus. Then Evan went on The Ticket talking about it this afternoon, and I thought it was going to be a madhouse....after all, The Ticket is the no. 1 station in D/FW for men 25-54 aka the demographic that would show up at this sort of thing. That said, figured I'd roll the dice and drive by there (its just a few blocks from a couple of my accounts....) at 4:45 and see how crowded it was.
It wasn't. At all. I walk in, grab a beer ($4 24oz beers for Happy Hour....for Dallas, that's a bargain), and walk up to about a dozen people in Rangers garb asking where the line was.....and I was in it. About ten people back. Over the next 45m maybe another 30 people show up, and by the time it was all over there couldn't have been more than 150 people. I was given a free baseball to get signed (I hadn't planned to get autographs, just wanted to shoot the shit, but hey, why not?), a coupon for a free beer (so wait, I get to meet the Rangers and get a free beer?), and stood there talking with other fans. The players finally show up, and they were awesome....each one shakes my hand, signs the ball, and we shoot the shit for a bit. After about an hour of signing at a table that ends and they get up, and start mingling with the crowd which was followed by a Q&A session with about 30 of us looking on. As you can see here, I'm about a foot from Mike Young, as well as Marlon Byrd. In case you were curious, Young says he got that hat in Baltimore but couldn't remember the name of the store. I even had a funny conversation with Derek Holland while he was at the urinal next to me (it may be a breach of male etiquette, but im ok with that), as he told me things he would like to do to a couple Hooter's girls.
They were all just really cool dudes. Michael Young was having a Shiner Bock, Marlon Byrd a Crown Royal & soda...and all of them willing to fight through autograph requests and conversation. I even talked to Eric Nadel for a while (his son apparently also went to Jesuit)-a man legendary in my mind and linked forever to Rangers baseball as their radio voice. I always wonder if players are as cool in interviews/on the field as they are in person, and in this case I'm happy to say that they are...these were good dudes. Kinsler even managed his anger quite nicely when some jackass spilled a glass of water in his lap. The entire time I was there I just had this shit-eating grin on my face....and while I know they're just dudes, most of them younger than me....they're still the Rangers. And for a couple hours I was 8 years old again, like I was meeting Jeff Kunkel.....except with a beer.