Michael Choice grew up in Mansfield and quickly became a Texas Rangers fan, but had to give up that allegiance due to his job.
Last week, Choice, a 2007 Timberview graduate, can think about being a fan again.
In a trade with the Oakland A’s, Texas acquired Choice in a trade for Craig Gentry and brought the former Wolves catcher and UT Arlington star back to town.
Choice, though, said he never really left.
“I live there now and never really moved away, you could say,” Choice said of making Mansfield home. His mother teaches at Mansfield High School.
The commute from his home is exactly 16 minutes, too, after Choice timed the drive to the Ballpark in Arlington prior to his meeting with the local media last week.
“I’m very excited,” said Choice of coming back to pursue his professional baseball career. “I got the call and had so much adrenaline flowing, thinking of being home and playing in the stadium I grew up watching so many games.”
And it’s not that he gave up being a Rangers fan, necessarily, but being drafted by the A’s eight spots ahead of the Rangers’ pick, Choice knew it was time to focus on his job, not his childhood idols.
Choice had to put away his love for the Rangers. “It was time to not become a fan anymore and become a player,” he explained. “I couldn’t worry about being a fan anymore. I think you keep that same attitude. You go forward and progress as a player and take a business approach and go to work.”
For Choice’s father, the trade to Texas was icing on his birthday cake.
“We couldn’t calm my dad down yesterday,” Choice explained. “It was his birthday, so it was like a birthday gift for him.”
Choice doesn’t really see any drawbacks to playing in his childhood backyard.
“It all depends on how you look at it,” Choice thought. “I’ve heard from my college and high school coaches. They’re pumped up because they’ll get to see a lot of games.”
Playing in front of friends and family could have other advantages for Choice. Rather than just the pressures of playing in the big leagues, Choice said he’s possibly going to feel a sense of ease.
“If anything, I think it’ll be a little less nerve-racking because it will be familiar,” he said of playing at the Ballpark. “Not many people get that chance.”
Although his phone was being bombarded with texts from familiar 817 area codes with well-wishes, Choice said he actually hasn’t received ticket requests – yet. “I’ve had none so far, but I’ve got a feeling they’re coming.”
The new indoor hitting facility at UTA will likely keep Choice in view of his old stomping grounds, as he said he plans to get in some practice back on campus in the off-season.
While at UTA, Choice set a record for 72 straight games of getting on base. Asked when the streak ended, he responded, “Probably my first professional game. It was a rough one,” he laughed.
When Choice played at Timberview, he said his junior year was highlighted by making it a few rounds deep into the playoffs. His senior year, he said, the Wolves lost to Mansfield the last game of the season, keeping them out of the playoffs.
Choice is keeping the proper perspective of what lies ahead, though.
“My plan is going to spring training and go win a job, basically,” he said. He’ll be wearing No.15 for the Rangers, after wearing No. 14 in high school. He said 15 was his first pro jersey number.