Gaylord Perry and a Texas Rangers first impression

Gaylord Perry
Gaylord Perry pitching for the Seattle Mariners in 1982. (Associated Press photo)

Editor’s note: Major League Baseball and its fans lost Hall of Fame pitcher Gaylord Perry on Thursday, Dec. 1. Perry pitched in the first Texas Rangers game I ever witnessed in Arlington, so I wrote this post to commemorate that event and what I remembered from seeing the Hall of Famer pitch in the game.

Let me tell you the story of my introduction to the Texas Rangers.

In the spring of 1976, I moved to Abilene, Texas, to go to college at Abilene Christian University. I was transferring my credits from a community college and started at ACU in the second summer semester while working at a small retail store in Abilene..

Anyway, I drove back to Fort Smith to visit my folks the week of Independence Day, and then drove back to Abilene on Monday, July 5.

I had grown up a St. Louis Cardinals fan, but became acquainted with the Rangers through their radio broadcasts after moving to Abilene.

So, as I was driving down from Fort Smith that Monday, I tuned the radio to WBAP 820, the Rangers flagship station. I learned they would be playing a home game that evening.

Perfect timing.

I detoured into Arlington and got to the ballpark about an hour before game time. I had read about how sparsely attended Rangers games were at that time, so I was surprised to find the parking lots surrounding Arlington Stadium almost completely full.

I parked and walked to a ticket window, where I was told that the only tickets remaining for sale were general admission in the outfield. It was a July 4 sellout.

Good enough for me.

I bought a ticket and found a spot deep in left field bleachers next to a man and his son, who was approximately 6 years old. The guy had a transistor radio with him that was shaped like Mickey Mouse and had the volume and tuning dials in the ears.

perry lineThe Mickey Mouse radio was tuned to WBAP, so we had radio play-by-play throughout the game while sitting in the stands. I guess that’s how we rolled in 1976.

Don’t remember much about the game except for the fact that the Rangers won and I got to see all-time great Gaylord Perry pitch for Texas (I was saddened to learn on Monday that Perry had passed away.)

The Hall of Famer and spitball legend started that 1976 game, although I wasn’t certain until I looked up the boxscore.

My real adventure started after the game as I left the stadium. I did not know my way around Arlington and had no map to consult. So, as I left the ballpark I found myself on Randall Mill Road, which I thought would take me back to I-30 and then west to Abilene.

Instead, Randall Mill Road seemed to go on forever with no sign of the Interstate. Finally, after seemed what was about an hour on the road to nowhere, I pulled into a 7-11 to ask for directions.

“How do I get to I-30,” I asked the clerk behind the counter.

He pointed to the west. “It’s right there.”

Sure enough, I had come within a few yards of the Interstate without realizing it, although I was actually now in Fort Worth.

So, about 11:30 pm on Monday, July 5, 1976, I pulled onto I-30 West and headed for Abilene and the rest of my life.

But I drove into Abilene now a Texas Rangers fan and a memory of watching Gaylord Perry pitch in a Major League game.

I remain a Rangers fan to this day.  RIP Gaylord.

February: 28 days of yuck

winter weather
This is cruel month of February, 28 forgettable days of cold and dark.

It was dark when I went out to get my paper off the driveway this morning — yes, I still get newsprint delivered to me every day — and noticed there was ice on the windshield of the car.

So, I decided I should pull the windshield wipers up so that they won’t be stuck in place in should I need to drive later in the day.

Big mistake.

The wipers clung to the windshield like the kid’s tongue to the flagpole in A Christmas Story. So the rubber squeegee part ripped into shreds. Arrgh!

All of which made me hate the month of February even more than normal.

In fact, as I brooded later, I decided to figure out which months of the year I dislike the most and why. Here’s what I came up with:

Most hated months from worst to first

No. 12: February — No explanation needed. See February 2021 for guidance.

No. 11: January — Other than a New Year’s Day holiday that gives us time to assess the damage Christmas spending caused us, January doesn’t offer much. Mostly cold and darkness with few redeeming values.

No. 10: November — We’re losing daylight and warmth, plus we’re plunging headfirst into the Christmas buying season. And Daylight Savings ends, throwing our internal clocks out of whack. Thanksgiving and the wonderful weekend of college football it brings is the only redemption.

No. 9: December: — I’ve told my wife for years that my favorite day of the year is December 26. Too much stress and pressure to enjoy Christmas properly. Redeeming value: days DO start inching longer with later sunsets after December 21.

No. 8: August: — Oppressive heat. Little rainfall. Only saved by baseball and the kickoff to the college football season late in the month.  Redemption comes only with rare temperature break or thundershower.

No. 7: July — See August. Oppressive heat. Little rainfall. Plus, Fourth of July fireworks drive our Chihuahua up a wall.  And KD dumped us on July 4th. Rarely do we get a break on temperatures or rainfall.  A bright side: Big vacation month, plus NFL training camp begins and MLB All-Star game.

No. 6: June — June brought so much promise as a kid. Weeks at my Grandparents’ house. Church camp. Lying in the grass and making images out of clouds. Now it means anticipating two full months of oppressive heat. See July and August.  However, June baseball holds my interest.

No. 5: May — Oppressive heat still not in full effect. Vacation season coming. Baseball season in full throttle. School ending. The lake beckons. Downside: Tornado season is in full bloom.

No. 4: March — Spring! We’re starting to see some warmth and daylight here. Baseball Spring Training fully under way. March Madness. We’re making the turn to a happier time. The bad news is the resumption of Daylight Savings, which throws our sense of time into disarray once again.

No. 3 September — NFL season kicks off, which means we have weekend days and nights covered by football. The oppressive heat breaks about the third week. Perfect outdoor walking weather. On the downside, days are noticeably shorter. And the State Fair, but I won’t hold that against the month.

No. 2: October — A glorious month, all in all. Football races shaping up. The World Series. NBA season tips off. Weather is cool but not cold. Leaves morph into beautiful colors, even here in central Oklahoma. Downside: winter’s coming.

No. 1: April — The absolute best month of the year. Opening Day. The Masters. Daily walks through the neighborhood. More daylight each day. The smell of a fresh mowed lawn. April showers. Warm weather with oppressive heat still a couple months away. Tell me what’s not to like