Twenty years later, Tom Schieffer remains proud of what he accomplished in spearheading the construction of The Ballpark in Arlington.
He called it the joy of his distinguished career and it’s certainly the signature moment from his years with the Texas Rangers.
And, as the Rangers celebrate the 20th anniversary of The Ballpark which is now known as Globe Life Park, Schieffer will become the 17th member of the club’s Hall of Fame.
The Rangers announced that Schieffer would be given the team’s highest honor during an induction ceremony on Aug. 23. He’s the sixth inductee in a “non-playing capacity.”
“I am sure most of you were surprised when you got the announcement, I was surprised,” said Schieffer, who graduated from Arlington Heights and the University of Texas.
“It’s a great honor. I always said that the definition of a good job was when you got paid to watch a baseball game and I thought I had a really good job. Building this ballpark was really the joy of my life.
“I’ve done a lot of different things. I’ve had some successes and some disappointment with others. But, from a purse sense of joy of doing something, building this ballpark was the thing that had given me the most pleasure in my life.”
Schieffer is proud of how well the facility has aged, saying: “I always thought it would be better when it had a little patina on it from use.”
Schieffer spoke at length about the ballpark and the importance of it as thousands of people have and will continue to experience their first big-league game in it. He went on to say that a domed stadium was not economically feasible at the time and that he’s been disappointed that more development hasn’t occurred outside the ballpark.
But Schieffer, who was an original investor in the ownership group headed by George W. Bush and Edward (Rusty) Rose that purchased the club in April 1989, also reflected on his years with the team, specifically his tenure as team president from February 1991 until April 1999.
Schieffer recalled the day he signed Ivan Rodriguez to a five-year, $42 million deal on July 31, 1997. Earlier in the day, the Rangers had worked out a trade that would have sent the star backstop to the New York Yankees.
“His mother called him the night before and said, ‘You need to get up there. If you want to be a Ranger, you need to tell them you want to be a Ranger,’” Schieffer said. “We did the deal in five minutes.”
After his baseball days, Schieffer served as U.S. Ambassador to Australia (2001-05) and Japan (2005-09).