“I don’t think what they are doing in Dallas is right.”
Those words will always be unforgettable to me. They came from the only mayor of any city in North Texas when we, in Arlington, were working so hard in 1989-1990 to craft a public-private partnership with the new owners of the Texas Rangers Baseball Club to ensure its permanent home with us.
It was entirely characteristic of Bob Bolen to do the right thing.
He thought everyone ought to honor that basic principle in the way they conducted their affairs. That was especially true if they were in a position of power or authority to impact the lives of others.
When he said that to me, it seemed designed to accomplish at least two things. First, it was to encourage me during a time when the future of Arlington hung in the uneasy balance of serious decision-making.
Second, it was to confirm that Fort Worth was behind our efforts and that I need not worry that there was anything his city would do to interfere with our negotiations with the Rangers at such a crucial time.
He had seen the media coverage of the blatant attempts by Dallas elected officials, business leaders and others to steal our baseball team.
I think, although he didn’t say so, that he had expressed his feelings to some in Dallas and encouraged them to follow Fort Worth’s example and not attempt to lure away a vital asset from an area city.
I know that he shared that position generally within the regional forums, such as the North Central Texas Council of Governments, whenever the topic arose of where the Rangers would play their games in years to come.
Other cities besides Dallas dreamed of hosting Major League Baseball and had thrown their caps into the ring to attract the Rangers.
Bolen’s position was the honorable one. He felt that Arlington and the Rangers should be left alone to work out a deal.
If those efforts didn’t succeed, then it would be time for other cities to make their desires and interests known to the team’s owners. But, not until all efforts in Arlington had been concluded.
It was Arlington, after all, under the relentless efforts of Tom Vandergriff throughout the 1960s, that had brought the big leagues to the region.
Not Dallas, and not any other city.
Bob’s position of doing what was right came naturally to him. I admired him greatly and learned from him.
Our terms of mayoral service ran concurrent for several years. It was his initiative to suggest that it was in our mutual interest to work together on many things.
Tarrant County was and is the only county in Texas with two cities of populations exceeding 300,000. That made us special and gave us a standing, if we pursued opportunities together, that would be unmatched anywhere in the area and throughout the state.
So we helped each other. When Arlington was working on an economic opportunity or initiatives to improve the quality of life for our residents, our adjacent colleague would be there for us.
We would do the same for him and his city.
It was a demonstration in how things should be done the right way.
All the people of North Texas and beyond will forever be the beneficiaries of the devotion, dedication, work ethic and results achieved in the era of Bob Bolen’s tireless service that spanned nearly the entirety of his adult lifetime.