BY: Richard W. Humphrey
ARLINGTON, Texas – The last day of Major League baseball at Globe Life Park, nee The Ballpark in Arlington, came and went last Sunday. On the field, the Rangers beat the Yankees 6-1 to take two wins in the final series at the park.
It was another hot day with a start time temperature of 91, but it did not dissuade fans from attending. There were enormous lines to get into the stadium more than an hour before the first pitch, and the official number for the sellout crowd was 47,144.
It was nice that the Rangers won, but the day was not really about a game on the field. It was a day to celebrate the ballpark. Globe Life Field became the nicest ballpark ever to get replaced. The gorgeous exterior, the beautiful arches, the grass field, the remembrances of old ballparks that no longer exist such as Tiger Stadium’s home run porch in right field. It’s a gem and still one of the 10 most beautiful parks in Major League baseball.
On the field, Lance Lynn turned in the best pitching performance of the day in Major League baseball. He completed 7.1 innings, allowing just two hits. One was a home run off the bat of Aaron Judge, his 27th of the season. The other was a Gary Sanchez single. He struck out 10 Yankees.
Manager Chris Woodward sent Lynn out for the eighth inning only to allow him to push his pitch count over 100 to keep his streak of consecutive games with at least 100 pitches alive. Sunday was his team record 31st. Lynn is certainly the work horse of this year’s pitching staff, leading the team with 16 wins, 208.1 innings pitched and 246 strikeouts. His 3.67 ERA was seventh best in the American League.
One batter into the eighth inning pushed Lynn over the 100 pitch mark. Woodward was out of the dugout immediately to remove Lynn from the game which also allowed the big pitcher to leave the field to a rousing standing ovation from appreciative fans.
Jose Leclerc finished the game allowing a single to Clint Frazier. Leclerc retired the other five batters he faced – three by strikeout. The honor of being the last batter in a Major League game at the park went to Giancarlo Stanton, who struck out to end the game.
Before the game began, long time season ticket holders paraded in along the outfield warning track. Long time employees paraded onto the field to assemble around the edge of the infield.
When the first American League game was played in 1994, the most stirring rendition of the National Anthem ever was played by world renown pianist Van Cliburn along with the Ft. Worth symphony orchestra. Van Cliburn is no longer with us, but the Ft. Worth Symphony Orchestra played the National Anthem prior to Sunday’s game.
After the game, there was a parade to take home plate from Globe Life Ballpark to the new field. Prior to the parade, the all-time Globe Life Ballpark team was introduced. There were a number of tremendous standing ovations for players such as Josh Hamilton, the most talented player to ever wear a Ranger uniform, Rafael Palmeiro, future Hall of Famer Adrian Beltre, and the face of the franchise for so many years – Michael Young.
Four of the all-time players sounded like they were booed. Shin-Soo Choo was met with a chorus of “Chooooooooo”. Nelson Cruz was met with a strong chorus of ”Cruuuuuuz”. Yu Darvish was met with a loud “Yuuuuuuu”.
The sounds greeting the announcement of Alex Rodriguez though were clearly ”boos”. A shame. Arod royally deserved to be recognized. He was with Texas for three seasons - 2001, 2002 and 2003. He played in all but one game during those three years. He hit 156 home runs, an average of 52 per year. He was the American League MVP in 2003.
Yankees’ pitcher CC Sabathia announced before the game that he planned to retire after the season. Early in the game, Chuck Morgan announced Sabathia’s intention to the crowd, which responded with a rousing ovation for Sabathia. He’s been a marvelous pitcher for years and will get serious consideration for the Hall of Fame.
The largest ovation on the day however came before the game began. Kenny Rogers was announced as one of the all-time Globe Life Ballpark team, and he trotted out of the Ranger dugout to home plate. Odd. The question was why home plate? Why not the pitchers mound?
The answer came quickly. Former Ranger pitcher and team President Nolan Ryan came out of the Ranger dugout to deliver the ceremonial first pitch. Ryan got the biggest ovation.
* The two officers that ran the ball club when the stadium was built were in attendance Sunday – Tom Schieffer and George Bush. They also were recognized to a hearty ovation from fans.
* Rangers’ outfielder David Hulse got the first hit in 1994, while Yankees’ outfielder Clint Frazier got the last hit. Milwaukee’s David Nilsson hit the first home run, and New York’s Aaron Judge hit the last one.
* North Texas Soccer Club, which is owned and operated by FC Dallas, will play their USL League One games at the Ballpark for the next three seasons. The XFL’s Dallas Renegades will play their home games there beginning in February.