The beauty of the Rangers Reaction is there are few, if any, rules.
My colleague Jeff Wilson and I, can go off on tangents if we want, and they don’t always have to be baseball-related. Last week in Houston, I used it to call out the Houston Astros’ woo birds at Minute Maid Park.
Tonight, I’ll use this space to pay tribute to a wonderful woman.
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Celeste Williams, the Star-Telegram’s sports editor for the past 19 years, passed away Monday night in Arlington. The Rangers honored her with a moment of silence before Wednesday’s game. They showed a picture of her on the big video board. It was a very classy move by the organization. Thank you, Rangers!
I arrived at the Star-Telegram two years before Celeste, and she quickly became one of my favorite people, even before I realized she was a huge rock and roll fan.
Some of us in the sports department had a sinking feeling this news was coming. Even still, her death comes as a shock. It’s shocking because her presence at the Star-Telegram, not only in the sports department but in features (which she also headed) and throughout the entire paper, was deep and substantial. She was respected, loved and GREAT at the job.
And she was the coolest boss anyone could ever have.
Most of us were shocked to learn that she was 65. Not only because she didn’t look it AT ALL, but because she was so cool and so in-tune with pop culture. We bonded quickly over our shared love of Pearl Jam, plus U2, Bruce Springsteen and Wilco.
I mean, she loved them all, knew their music backwards and forwards and never missed a show. In fact, she and her long-time partner David Martindale would often meet me for shows in far-flung places. We saw Pearl Jam at the Fox Theatre in St. Louis in 2004 and in Kansas City and St. Louis in 2010. We saw Eddie Vedder in Memphis in 2009 and Wilco in Oklahoma City and Austin various times.
When she couldn’t attend a show (I mean, she had an important job!) she would encourage me to go anyway, to take a few days off and report back to her. Even in the middle of our busy football season, she was cool with me going to Toronto to see U2 and Pearl Jam in a three-day span in 2005 since I was certain they would join each other on stage. I went. And they did. Vedder joined U2 on stage during their show and a day later Bono joined Pearl Jam on stage for an awesome version of “Rockin’ In the Free World.”
Celeste was excited for me and that felt good. Not only because she was a fellow fan, but because she was my boss and she knew how much it meant to me.
When I saw Pearl Jam at Wrigley Field last August, Celeste requested a shirt, and like a proud, hunting dog bringing the bird back to his master, I loved bringing her Pearl Jam mementos. And raiding the stash of candy she always had in her office.
Celeste never raised her voice, at least not with me. When she needed to make a point, she did it calmly and with respect, usually behind closed doors and never to embarrass you. You wanted to work hard for her and make her proud so we all did.
When U2’s 30th Anniversary Joshua Tree tour was announced in January, I knew something was off when she wasn’t interested in tickets. I told her of my plans to try to score tickets to the shows at the Rose Bowl, which are May 20-21.
“I saw the Joshua Tree Tour [in 1987], with great, great seats in The Summit [in Houston],” she wrote in an email. “A wonderful show. The only concert I’ve seen at AT&T was U2 and I was so disappointed in the sound quality and overall experience that I swore I’d never see another big show there. This one is tempting, but I’ve always got Houston (when they all had lots of hair!). They’ll probably sound better in the Rose Bowl than here anyway!”
That’s all the encouragement I needed. I bought tickets to both Rose Bowl shows. I’m sure I’ll think of her during the show, especially when it undoubtedly gets emotional.
She wasn’t a sappy person, but she’d understand. She always did.