Texas Rangers

‘Bobby’s friend’ helped orchestrate 1995 Home Run Derby, All-Star Game at Globe Life Park

Editor’s note: The second in a countdown of the most memorable moments in Globe Life Park history. The Texas Rangers will play their final game there Sept. 29 before moving into Globe Life Field next season.

A brand-new ballpark usually doesn’t have to wait long before it is given a chance to host the MLB All-Star Game, and Globe Life Park was awarded the Midsummer Classic for only its second season, July 11, 1995.

That could be a good sign for Globe Life Field, which is scheduled to open in March.

Commission Rob Manfred said as much late in the 2017 season at the groundbreaking for the new ballpark.

“We have a long tradition in baseball where, when communities make the kind of commitment that Arlington has made here to baseball that we like to bring a special event, something like the All-Star Game or the WBC final,” Manfred said. “I think this facility would be perfect for that.”

Though it has been nearly 25 years since the Rangers hosted the game, they have an experienced hand at hosting duties.

Chuck Morgan, the executive vice president of ballpark entertainment, was put in charge of All-Star Monday in 1995, which included an old-timers’ game, batting practice and the Home Run Derby.

He was paired with Joe Garagiola for on-field entertainment for the old-timers’ game. Their job was to walk around and speak with players in the game, which was scheduled for three innings.

Garagiola and the old guys, though, thought it was too hot to play three innings, so they stopped after two. That left Morgan with 45 minutes to fill for ESPN’s time slot.

The solution? An extra round was added to the Home Run Derby, which eventually was won by Chicago White Sox first baseman Frank Thomas and the American League. Morgan interviewed him on the field after he won it.

It was a family affair for the Morgans, as son Kelly caught the Derby and son Rhett shagged in the outfield. One other things stands out with Morgan to this day.

“One thing that still stands out to me, after the Home Run Derby, I watched Cal Ripken sign autographs for what had to be an hour or more in the heat over by the Rangers’ dugout,” Morgan said.

Morgan’s duties were reduced for the game, though pregame introductions are one of the biggest parts of the night. He had also suggested that MLB consider bringing back players who missed the 1945 All-Star Game, which was canceled because of World War II.

MLB decided to bring back only Joe DiMaggio, who was part of the pregame ceremony that again would involved Garagiola on broadcast duties. Garagiola, though, didn’t receive his instruction well from the producer, who he leaned on Morgan to tell DiMaggio what needed to be done.

Garagiola, though, has a problem. He didn’t know Morgan’s name despite working with him the previous day.

“Joe turned to me and sad, ‘Bobby’s friend, what do you want me to do?’” Morgan said.

The reference was to when area baseball legend Bobby Bragan introduced Morgan and Garagiola a few years earlier. Garagiola couldn’t remember Morgan’s name, but he remembered being introduced to him.

“So, I told Joe DiMaggio what we wanted him to do,” Morgan said.

Nolan Ryan threw out the first pitch, which he threw into the stands even though the ball was meant to be delivered to the museum at the ballpark, and Lyle Lovett handled the National Anthem.

The National League beat the American League 3-2, and Jeff Conine of the Florida Marlins was the MVP. Ivan Rodriguez and Kenny Rogers represented the Rangers.

Count Morgan among those looking forward to again playing host, this time at Globe Life Field under a retractable roof.

“It’s a lot of work, but it is fun,” he said. “I’m ready to do it again.

“They won’t have to deal with the heat for the Home Run Derby or the game. I’m not sure we were able to take full advantage of the benefit of having the game in our ballpark coming off of year when the World Series wasn’t played and the start of the 1995 season was delayed due to labor issues.

“But man, its a great experience, especially for a baseball rat like me.”

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After 11 seasons covering the Rangers for the Star-Telegram, Jeff Wilson knows that baseball is a 24/7/365 business and there is far more to baseball than just the 162 games each season. There’s also more to Jeff -- like a family and impressive arsenals of Titleist hats and adidas shoes -- but sometimes it’s hard to tell.
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