When you play Monopoly, your “get out of jail” card frees you from just about anything. For baseball players, it’s, “We’re talking baseball.” Remember that later.
Sunday night after a sour defeat to the Cubs, the Texas Rangers regrouped for the Eighth Annual Triple Play Game Show Extravaganza at the Anatole hosted by Cristina Barbosa-Young and Michael Young, Dana and Josh Lewin and Lisa and Ken Schnitzer. Benefiting the Texas Rangers Baseball Foundation that supports programs for improving the lives of children in need, this was definitely a big league event. With Tivo’s set for Lost Sunday night, baseball fans of all ages were chatting it up with their Rangers. Ron Washington, Jim Sundberg, Rusty Greer, José Guzmán and other Rangers, both past and present, moseyed around the aisles and aisles of silent auction items talking with fans like Oscar Howard and Chris Batiste (pictured right with from the left Oscar and Ron).
As if it wasn’t enough for Alex Ardemagni, 7, and his brother Bryce Ardemagni, 5, to get pitcher Scott Feldman (pictured left with, from the right Bryce and Alex) to sign their baseballs, they were thrilled at the prospect of having dinner with a Ranger.
You see that’s what this event is all about — Rangers hanging out with the fans. For instance, adorable pitcher Dustin Nippert (pictured) as happy as a lark at his table. Even when he was told that someone was passing himself off at Dustin, he laughed and agreed that in the future his bills should be sent to the impersonator.
As folks settled in their seats, players and staff members were introduced as the band played “Sweet Home Alabama.” Texas Rangers President/baseball legend Nolan Ryan, a man of very few words, commented that it was “the biggest fundraiser of the year for the Texas Rangers Foundation.”
Then outfielder Josh Hamilton gave the invocation. Now, normally that’s an accepted protocol that no one really recalls ten seconds afterwards. But Josh doesn’t do anything is less that memorable. He ended his prayer with ” … bless this food as we take it to our bodies so we can kick everybody’s butt the rest of the season.” Interesting.
Hey, this is a baseball crowd and they loved it. Plus they loved the dinner. Well, most of them did. While guests and players dined, over in the silent auction area Nolan was chatting with pitcher C.J. Wilson (pictured left with Nolan), who had lost the game to the Cubs earlier in the day.
When approached for a photo, C.J. very politely asked for a time out, saying, “Could you excuse us? We’re talking baseball.”
They continued to talk and it was pretty obvious to observers that they weren’t talking about the hey-day of Billy Martin and Bobby Valentine. While fans were kept on the sidelines by a smiling guard dog (pictured), the legendary pitcher/soon-to-be-owner and the young baby-face pitcher looked like a scene from Bull Durham. Finally, the private conversation that was so painfully public was over, and smiles immediately appeared for pictures with fans.
As others headed to their seats, Nolan strolled through the silent auction area looking at the items. Someone interrupted him, asking about his conversation with C.J. Nolan said, “We were just talking baseball. He had a rough first inning today …. Part of it is just being new to the rotation. But overall, I’m very pleased with him.”
Then someone else asked him, “Which is harder — playing or managing?” His reply? “Watching.”