This weekend I wrap up my baseball directing journey and I have to say it feels right to finish on the last day of Globe Life Park. How old do you have to be to have directed both the opening and closing game of a major league ballpark?
Old enough to have done games in 49 different stadiums.
Old enough to have brought over one million pitches into your living room over the course of nearly 4,000 games.
Old enough to have worked with fifteen different play by play announcers.
Old enough to have covered twelve different full time and interim managers beginning with Doug Rader in 1983. By the way, he still scares me.
When you have been around that long there are bound to be some highlights. Outside of Globe Life Park that would include Nolan Ryan’s Sixth No Hitter in Oakland and his 300th win in Milwaukee. Perhaps the most famous shot of my career was the ball off the noggin of a dazed Jose Canseco for a home run.
But this weekend is about the magnificent place my friend Mike Rhyner dubbed The Temple. So many memories will flood through my mind as I wrap it up.
Opening Day in 1994 with Van Cliburn performing the best National Anthem I have had the privilege to broadcast.
One of my biggest regrets is that my schedule did not work out to cover the 3000th hit of my all-time favorite Ranger player Adrian Beltre.
So many great moments beautifully captured by the best production crew in television.
But my favorite memory from The Temple is intensely personal. In March of 2006 my wife Joni was diagnosed with an aggressive form of breast cancer. To survive would require a difficult and wearying year of surgery, chemotherapy, radiation, and infusion of a drug targeted to her cancer. My wife is a warrior. She never felt sorry for herself or questioned why. Joni just asked what she needed to do to win the battle.
Fourteen months later Angie Swint of the Texas Rangers asked if Joni would throw out the first pitch for Breast Cancer Awareness Day. The Ranger’s clubhouse staff created a beautiful Ranger jersey for her with the number “1 N 8” to denote that one in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer during their lifetime. Joni’s message to any woman reading this is to get regular testing and be persistent if you believe something is wrong. With early detection the five-year survival rate is 96%. On that day my wife threw out the first pitch in front of dozens of friends and family in the Ballpark. I will never forget her statement that on that day she transformed from patient to survivor.
Joni threw out the first pitch to our friend Jim Sundberg.
Jim is the one with the smaller nose.
Over thirteen years later I am blessed to enter retirement with Joni at my side. Remembering that day at the Ballpark makes this grand baseball cathedral even more special. So many memories at this ballpark. Goodbye old friend. We had a good run.