The Texas Rangers are the hottest team in baseball right now and, with a team that has a swarthy 15-4 record going into this weekend’s homestand against the Rays, the Ballpark is a very crazy place. The fans are so overcome they are actually buying the freakish two-foot-long hot dogs that cost $26 and all of Dallas is abuzz with joy.
In spite of the merriment, it was found a Grinch had wormed his way down to the field-level seats during Wednesday night’s 7-3 win over the Yankees. It was in the eighth inning when Mitch Moreland, the Rangers’ third baseman, noticed a kid about five years old wearing his glove and sitting in his dad’s lap.
So when an errant ball was called foul and skipped down towards Mitch, he quickly fielded it and flipped the ball right towards the grinning little boy.
It was wonderful, all that baseball should be about, but that’s when El Jerko, the bum sitting beside the little kid, jumped in front of the throw and turned to his ugly girlfriend to show her the prize and prove what a hero he was.
The little boy was crushed. He burst into tears because, in his heart of hearts, he knew the Ranger player wanted him to have the ball. His dad tried to shrug it off, trying to console his son rather than make a scene but neither he nor his wife could stop the tears.
“The Biggest Bum in Texas” seemed oblivious to the child’s agony. Oh, he was too busy taking his ugly girlfriend’s picture with the ball and – in a more dastardly act – the cameras then showed El Jerko making out with his ugly girlfriend. It was absolutely unbelievable.
What the bum didn’t know was that the whole thing was being shown on the Major League baseball network and that Yankees play-by-player announcer Michael Kay was ripping the lout, saying what every parent in America wished they could tell El Jerko. Stealing joy from a kid is the only thing worse at a ballpark than betting against your own team.
Fortunately, somebody in the Rangers’ dugout was watching the telecast and – within seconds – a better baseball was tossed to the little fan by the players. The boy immediately brightened, socked the ball deep into the pocket of his glove, and was laughing delightedly by the time Texas put New York away.
What are people thinking when they do that to a child? The irony is that by Thursday afternoon the tape of one man’s greed was all over the Internet and, with Rangers fans in a frenzy, you can bet El Jerko doesn’t need to be seen at the Ballpark in Arlington for quite a while.
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Those who wonder about the tall posts that now circle Engel Stadium should remember that the old baseball stadium on Third Street is being retrofitted to look like Ebbets Field, where Jackie Robinson broke baseball’s color barrier in 1947. If you’ll look at pictures of Ebbets Field on a website like Wikipedia.com, you’ll see why sports writers back in the day called the Brooklyn, N.Y., structure a bandbox.
Ebbets Field was built in the Sagebrush section of Brooklyn and had massive walls all around it, thus the reason “our” Engel Stadium will change dramatically in appearance by the time the movie “42” begins filming in Chattanooga in a few weeks. Ebbets Field was demolished in 1960, two years after team owner Walter O’Malley took the team to Los Angeles.
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Speaking of Robinson, I think it is a classic tribute that every player on every team in the Major Leagues wears the same number – 42 – every year on April 15 to commemorate the day 65 years ago that Jackie became the first African-American to play in the big league.
Ironically, a recent issue of USA Today reported that African-Americans make up just 8 percent of those now on major league rosters. The all-time high was 27 percent in 1975, but an influx of Latin American players and poor inner-city recreation programs have eroded the presence of blacks.