If I may exercise a bit of personal privilege, I would like to express my gratitude for those who made my induction into the Texas Rangers Baseball Hall of Fame a reality.
I’ve tried to say thank you in other forums, but there’s no larger one than this newspaper to speak of those responsible for the lifetime experience my family and I shared on the field of Globe Life Park last week.
Up front are Arlington voters who showed up in record numbers in 1991 to say “yes” to creating a partnership between the city and the Rangers by using a half-cent sales tax to fund the city’s portion of the cost to build The Ballpark in Arlington.
After all the efforts to craft an agreement with the team, the final say, as it should have been, was in the hands of Arlington citizens. They would decide if the city was to maintain its Major League status or watch that privilege unfold in some other place.
So, to those 21,924 voters who delivered a 65 percent landslide victory to seize the opportunity that would enhance the city’s presence on the national stage and propel our entertainment economy, I say thank you for your legendary “can-do” spirit that defines who we are.
I will always believe the size of that victory was, in large part, a tribute to the integrity of the Rangers ownership group led by Tom Schieffer, George W. Bush and the late Rusty Rose. Their approach to our negotiations was to always focus on how the ambitious project would create a win for both the city and the ballclub.
What resulted developed beyond a business relationship into lasting friendships. And the sense of shared success has been fully embraced by the Rangers’ current owners, represented by Ray Davis, Bob Simpson and Neil Leibman. Ultimately, it was their decision to include me among the storied members of the team’s hall of fame, and I will be forever grateful for that awesome honor.
Mayor Jeff Williams and my former City Council colleague Judy Rupay have been instrumental in helping those owners come to their decision. Their friendship has been multiplied by hundreds of others who have delivered messages of congratulations that have flowed in throughout the past week.
In my acceptance remarks, I shared the sentiment expressed by Nolan Ryan on the occasion of his induction in the National Baseball Hall of Fame -- that finding words to express his gratitude and love for his wife was harder than pitching a no-hitter.
Sylvia and I are celebrating 55 years together this Sunday, and we have spent almost half of those years, along with children and grandchildren, attending Rangers games. She is the love of my life and led our family’s support to make room for life in the public arena.
There were 21 of those family members who traveled from three states to join the induction ceremony and share the occasion with me, and we loved having all of them with us.
In Tom Schieffer’s address on Opening Day in 1994, he said that ballparks are museums for memories. They are the backdrop for people to play out the most touching moments of their lives.
That rang more true than ever for us last week. So, for all those mentioned and those I should have, may I say one more time, thank you all very, very much.