After three straight baseball seasons of attending Texas Rangers games as a working member of the media, I made it to my first game at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington as just a baseball fan. I was there for the home opener against the Angels and then I went on Monday night to see the Rays.
You may have read my previous blog about taking my daughters to the home opener…just me and my girls (my wife was out of town). I had high expectations, and we surpassed them.
My girls are five years old and almost seven. I took them out of school at around 10:30-10:45-ish am. We live maybe 15-20 minutes from the Ballpark, but I had no idea what traffic and parking would be like for the opener. I also like being early for everything unlike…(well, I will stop there).
I drove the side roads from Grapevine, Texas (the secret backdoor way–maybe not such a secret now). There are several ways to go from where I live. It’s traffic-free, but we might have been stopped by every stoplight. We made it to the Ballpark, and I paid $15 for parking. The parking lot attendant did not ask if we had a game ticket. I heard that would be a new policy to get into the lots. I remembered my days of working in the White Sox parking lots, and that’s a story for another day.
Flanked by my Rangers-red wearing beauties, we walked hand-in-hand through the lot that was filled with tailgaters. We walked past the statue honoring the father who had passed away diving for a Josh Hamilton foul ball (tugs at your heart & I’ll never forget that postgame show), and we entered through the Home Plate gate. We headed to the Kidzone in center field where I paid $20 to let my girls play on the playground for about 45 minutes or so.
Then, the girls ate lunch in the Kidzone. Hot dog, sliders, chips, drinks and candy for $20. The girls wanted to play more, but with less than a half hour to first pitch I wanted to head to our seats and enjoy the pregame festivities and player intros.
On the way, I bought a hot dog with grilled onions for me and a bag of peanuts for us. That was another $10. We sat in section 235 seats and in row 11—Club Level (second deck) and right behind first base at roughly $80/ticket. That’s a gamble with two young ones, but this day was so special for me that I thought it was worth the price risk.
The girls enjoyed the player intros, the unfurling of the huge US flag in the outfield, the flyover, the playing of the national anthem and then there was the ceremonial first pitch. A father, an Arlington native, of a 6-year-old who died in the Sandy Hook Elementary shooting threw out that ceremonial first pitch to Pudge Rodriguez. My youngest daughter, oblivious to the meaning of the on-field happenings, was standing on the chair next to me. I found myself squeezing her oh so tightly as my eyes welled up behind my sunglasses. It was such an emotional moment.
Then, the game began. My oldest asks a lot of questions, but they both watched the game and in-between inning contests intently. I was prepared for questions, and I had answers.
We talked about player uniforms and the fact that Ian Kinsler, Lance Berkman and David Murphy show a lot of red stocking. We are fans of that look. Josh Hamilton was booed mercifully by the fans while at the plate and anytime the ball came to him in the field. My oldest hated hearing the boos because she is a huge Hamilton fan. I explained to her why fans were booing, but she said to me in a stern voice with an angry crunched up facial expression while pointing her right index finger at me, “I will not boo!” I calmly told her she didn’t have to and neither will I.
In the 4th inning and after my oldest had given her chair a workout—folding it up and down maybe a hundred times—I asked the older woman next to her, “do you wonder if the stadium seating company has little kids test their seats before they leave the factory?” She chuckled and didn’t seem to mind the restlessness of the 6-year-old next to her thereafter. Truth be told, my oldest was merely trying to get the best sightline to home plate as she tried looking around or above the big dudes in front of us. My youngest spent much of the game on my lap, and that was fine with me even though she had her own seat.
Before the sun left us in the 5th, it was time for ice cream in a souvenir cup. For $15, why not?!!? My girls were happy.
In the 7th, my youngest wanted to see fireworks. Then, Adrian Beltre hit a home run and she had her fireworks. Then, she asked when we would leave. It was 2-2 at that time, and I said maybe in a couple innings and explained how many outs remained until the 9th inning.
Throughout the game, I asked my daughters what they thought would happen in certain game situations. In the 8th inning, my oldest asked me that question. I responded, “let’s see…with the score tied at 2, two outs and a 2-0 count to Kinsler and super fast Craig Gentry at second base…Kinsler will get a fastball on the outer half and drive it to the opposite way to right field for a base hit allowing Gentry to score from second base.”
Kinsler said after the game that he didn’t intend to hit it to right field. The Rangers beat the Angels 3-2. This year’s version of my postgame show was walking out of the Ballpark holding my daughters hands and driving home. Granted, ticket prices are less for most of the other games, but I now fully comprehend what it costs to take a family to a game in this day and age, but the experience was priceless.