We moved to Dallas in 1994. That coincided with the year the Rangers grew up. When they went from being a placeholder in the American League to a franchise that was actually trying to take itself seriously.
It was the first time in my life I lived in a town that had major league baseball. Well, the town next to it did. But that was close enough.
I wasn’t able to get tickets to the first Rangers home game. But I went to the first Rangers night game the next day. They played the Brewers who, at that time, were an American League team.
It was an extra-inning game. The Rangers won in the bottom of the tenth off a base hit from Beltre.
Truth is, I had to look up who got the hit. I remember it happening but not the details. But I was in awe of the Ballpark.
The game was tied 3-3 headed into the bottom of the tenth. Chris James led off with a single. James was one of those forgettable players who nobody remembers but who lasted longer than you’d ever expect. James played ten major league seasons with eight seasons. He ended up with an OPS+ of 99, meaning he was an average major leaguer. One nobody remembers.
Next up was the other end of the spectrum, a player everyone remembers, Pudge Rodriguez. He singled James to third.
With two on and no outs, Esteban Beltre hit a line drive single to right to score James and give the Rangers a 4-3 walk-off win.
It would be the first night a Ranger named Beltre would send the crowd home happy.
And it would be the first night I went home a Texas Rangers fan.