Part XII: Globe Life Park in Arlington
(AKA: The Start of the “Texas Two Step”)
Before leaving to Colorado, I received something in the mail I didn’t expect to get so quickly, or even to the extent. I got a big envelope containing two tickets to an Astros game, and also a free parking pass! These were down on the field level, too, so they were very tough to pass up. At that point, I decided that a trip to Texas was in order, but then I thought, “What if I can get to both stadiums in Texas in a matter of a few days?” After a couple days of serious planning, I had places to stay at both stops, and would get to visit some wonderful friends and family. All of a sudden, this trip was becoming very possible. Then, I found a very cheap rental car in Houston, and stumbled upon a very affordable flight to the Dallas/Fort Worth area… both costing me under $200. So far, this entire tour had gone way under budget, and I knew I had some extra money. So I bit the bullet and decided to do the “Texas Two-Step!”
Yeah, I did it.
Ballpark 10: Globe Life Park in Arlington, elevation 550 feet
The game: Royals @ Rangers on August 23, 2014
I have family that live near the Arlington area, so they were more than happy to have me come and visit for a few days. My aunt and uncle have some farm land about an hour away, so it was great to see what that property was like. Plus, I hadn’t seen my favorite cousin since he was visiting my place a couple years ago. He took me to my first Rangers game over a decade ago, so I already had my hat from there. He has coached high school baseball and high school football, but is now an assistant principal. Since the school year was starting soon, he had Saturday as his day off. Thus, we began looking for tickets online, and StubHub really came through in the clutch…. but more on that later.
We left early because it was Hall of Fame day in Arlington, and there were former players signing autographs. Parking wasn’t too bad, but my cousin is smart. He knew Six Flags Over Texas was closing soon, and so we parked about a block away from the park, but in the outside of the theme park area. Apparently, this is allowed (later after the game, he’d also try to use the secret exit to avoid post-game traffic). Of course, most people didn’t seem to care where we parked since there was a small crowd there before the game. In fact, the first fans we saw were all Royals fans.
The fans: I knew going in that the Rangers were mired in last place. This season has been nothing short of a disaster for them with the rash of injuries they faced all year long. By that point in the season, they were nearly mathematically eliminated from playoff contention… in August! Entering the stadium, I asked myself, “Where are all the fans?” My question was answered when I entered the ballpark and saw that Ivan “Pudge” Rodriguez was signing autographs inside the stadium. Unfortunately, his line was already closed off. While the rest of the ballpark was virtually empty, all the true Rangers fans wanted to meet a Hall of Famer, and who could blame them?
The other autograph stations were virtually empty as some of the biggest names at the other tables were Frank Catalanotto, Jose Guzman, and a fan-favorite, Rusty Greer. Those were the only names that really stuck out to me because that were all fairly recent, and I’ve actually seen them all play. Rusty Greer is the one that stuck out to me because that guy just played all out every day, and his catch to preserve a perfect game (Kenny Rogers) still plays on highlight reels. The rest of the players giving autographs were former Rangers players that didn’t play much in the majors, but still wanted to come out for the ceremony.
After some autographs, my family and I decided to take in some batting practice, and for the first time, I had a little luck on my side. With the Royals taking BP, Nori Aoki blasted one in the right field seats… just over where I was. My cousin was right next to me, he picked it up and gave it to me. How awesome! First one of those I got during a live batting practice. Of course, since there wasn’t many fans there, I knew my chances for a ball might be pretty good.
We walked around the gorgeous stadium and were greeted very kindly everywhere. This was real southern hospitality at its best. The team store is vast and just as friendly as any I’ve been to. Just outside the team store, the Nolan Ryan statue stood where we got our pictures with the statue. The outfield buildings near where this particular statue is located resemble something out of an old steamboat with the white facades and old-style patterns that are unique to this ballpark.
The food: Located here are several food choices and great stores for everyone to peruse. Sold here is the famous “Boomstick” hot dog that is two-feet long and costs a whopping $26. I passed on that, but saw one fan try this behemoth of a hot dog out. Instead, I opted for a fairly big BBQ sandwich that cost just over eight bucks up in the club level restaurants. Yes, this thing was pretty big. For the size, I thought it was a good price. For the taste, this was more than worth it.
Ticket prices: When my cousin and I were looking for tickets online, we were amazed at how cheap the tickets were. Front row of the upper deck was only six bucks each. Of course we jumped on those tickets, but we soon found out why almost every ticket in the upper deck was only six bucks. There were maybe a couple thousand fans in the entire upper deck area, and a good number of them were Royals fans who were excited to possibly see their team take first place in the AL Central standings.
Another reason the tickets were cheap is because of the annoyingly high railings throughout the entire ballpark. Some of you might remember the Shannon Stone incident where he fell over a railing trying to catch a ball tossed by Josh Hamilton. Sadly, Stone fell to his death and sparked a huge change in the stadium. This prompted all the railings of every seating section to be raised significantly. For those sitting in the front row of any section, this poses a huge obstruction when trying to watch the game as there are multiple wires going across the fence. If that wasn’t bad enough, there are several obstructed seats in the outfield, especially in the upper right field porch, which has multiple beams running across it, just like the old jewel box stadiums (Wrigley Field and Fenway Park).
The game: Pre-game ceremonies occurred before the game honoring Tom Schieffer, who was instrumental in building a new stadium in Arlington, and was the team president through the 1990s. Those Rangers teams were quite successful winning three division titles and having mostly winning seasons during his tenure as the team president. He is still very beloved around the organization, and it was an honor to see a fantastic ceremony, and even better to see many fans come early just for that.
Then the game started. My view of the action was severely hindered by the ridiculous wires, but the visiting Royals fans kept us thoroughly entertained. Kansas City jumped out to an early lead with an Alex Gordon home run. However, on the first pitch of the game for Texas, Shin-Soo Choo hit a monster home run that probably landed in Irving to tie the game. Bonus points to the Rangers for having very loud fireworks after every Texas home run, and for having the Chik-Fil-A sign light up the words “Going Going Gone” as the fireworks go off. After that, it was a ho-hum quick game until the top of the 5th inning when the Royals scored three runs in the inning and never relinquished the lead.
So I know Colorado had their toothbrush race last week. Well, the Rangers upped the cheesiness to a new level by having the “Dots Race.” This is exactly like it sounds. There are three oversized… well… dots for some reason. This was the moment where the between the innings race took such a weird turn that I would be okay if I didn’t see another one of those races again for the rest of the season. Plus, if they were going to do that, the dots should have been red, white, and blue!
Anyway, the game went along with the Royals fans cheering loudly and the Rangers doing what they’ve done all season long, not come through in key situations. Kansas City tacked on two more runs in the top of the 7th inning to make the score 6-1. I was surprised that I didn’t hear “Deep In the Heart of Texas” this time around in Arlington. Then again, most of the fans had left during the 7th inning stretch and didn’t want to see their Rangers lose another one. As expected, the Royals won, 6-3, and were in first place in the AL Central race. How about that?
This is a beautiful ballpark that, unfortunately, has had a tough time filling the stands this season with all the turmoil going on. The park, itself, has one of the most unique designs in all of baseball. The flashing sign for a home run is neat, but those fireworks are something else. The friendly ushers let us stick around for a while, and my family and I even made it down to the field to take some pictures together. My cousin, David, and I took a couple pictures down on the field level, and it was a very fun time.
Again, I have to thank my family for putting me up for a few days, and letting me visit them! Honestly, it was so great to see them again, and it was even better to have them join me for a ball game in Arlington. In addition to getting to see a game, I came away with a batting practice ball, some souvenir cups, and a new pennant to add to my room… or my future game room. Either way, I left the ballpark in very high spirits, though I was sad to be leaving so soon. However, David was starting work the following week, and I was ready to hop on a bus to my next destination in Texas.