Harvey Christensen is one of the most loyal Texas Rangers fans. But he didn’t come to the Rangers; the Rangers came to him.
He retired to Surprise in 1999, four years before the Rangers relocated their spring training facilities to Arizona. Christensen, 90, has been a Rangers spring training season ticket holder since 2003. He grew up both a San Francisco Giants and New York Yankees fans since he lived in the Bay Area, which produced several Yankee greats. After retiring to Surprise, he made the hour-long trip to Scottsdale to watch the Giants during spring training but that drive tended to get old.
Enter the Rangers, who opened up just a few miles from his house.
“We met some of the young fellas and we liked them very much,” he said of those 2003 Rangers. “And the coaching staff were all very nice. So we just said, ‘Let’s be Rangers fans.’ And we were very happy with them.”
He’s been coming to spring training games since, with two season tickets four rows back from the Rangers’ on-deck circle.
Christensen knows baseball, too. He played for a few years in the St. Louis Browns organization after serving three years in World War II. After graduating from the University of San Francisco in 1952, he coached its baseball team for two years.
“I just enjoy baseball a lot. I enjoy a hustling team,” he said. “I think [the Rangers] are a hustling team. They’ve always had a very classy type of player whenever they sign somebody.”
During the regular season, he watches most games on television.
“Even last year when things went so poorly,” he said. “Their fans are absolutely great.”
His favorite current player is Adrian Beltre, who he calls one of the greatest infielders to ever play.
“I taught young kids to catch ground balls with their bare hands,” he said. “And [Beltre] does that out here in practice. I’ve never seen anybody else do that. If you can catch them with your bare hands you can catch them with a glove.”
Christensen is just like many young Rangers fans, however. Like many, he’s eager to see prospect Joey Gallo blossom.
“I think he’s going to be one of the great ones,” he said. “If he can get a good strike zone. I think Gallo would be the one I would want to watch.”
Elvis the disc jockey
Frank Sinatra’s Fly Me To the Moon boomed through the Rangers’ clubhouse Wednesday morning, thanks to music maestro Elvis Andrus. Sinatra had some players singing and dancing along.
Manager Jeff Banister entered the clubhouse just as the song kicked in, providing a nice soundtrack on the morning of his first game with the club. Banister said he approves of Andrus’ music mixes, which usually provide hits from many genres, including hip-hop, salsa and rock.
“A kid comes in in the second half of the game and is laying it all out on the line. We talk about respecting 90 [feet] and I got to believe that’s the definition of it, and I wanted to let him know that I was proud of him.” — Manager Jeff Banister, who shook Jorge Alfaro’s hand in the dugout after the catcher ran hard to first base on a flyout in the ninth