ARLINGTON, TEXAS – The arrival of the Minnesota Twins in suburban Bloomington in 1961 and the arrival of the Texas Rangers in suburban Arlington in 1972 had this in common:
Both previously had been Washington Senators.
Arlington was a favorite stop in the AL during my five years (1974-78) as the Twins beat writer for the St. Paul newspapers. Later, Texas was also a spot on the schedule if a columnist wanted to take a road trip and do double duty; the Twins beat writers were willing to sacrifice three days in that summer heat.
The reason I enjoyed Rangers road games was the corps of beat writers from the Dallas and Fort Worth newspapers. It was a cast of characters led by the Morning News’ Randy Galloway, who for a time feuded with owner Brad Corbett and would bring a small cooler of Lone Star Longnecks to the pressbox rather than accept Brad’s free booze.
A man must have his principles.
Also in the 1980s, Dallas became home to a newspaper war — Morning News vs. Times Herald — that produced outstanding sports sections. The Morning News won in 1991, purchasing its bitter rival.
There was a period earlier when the Times Herald teamed Blackie Sherrod, the great Texas wordsmith, with egomaniac Skip Bayless. Blackie and Skip had a mutual disregard for one another, to the point they would use an intermediary to relay their column topic when sitting near another at a Cowboys game.
Family and friends assembled Friday at the Rangers ballpark for a memorial celebrating Gerry Fraley, an all-time great ball writer at the Morning News, who died May 25 at 64.
Fraley was hard-core when it came to competition. Legend had it, Gerry and T.R Sullivan, formerly at Fort Worth now at MLB.com, didn’t speak for 25 years. T.R. was the last to do a tribute Friday.
It was outstanding and also revealed they did talk twice: When Fraley’s cancer diagnosis became known a couple of years ago, and when T.R. returned from a three-week absence after a health event in 2018.
Gerry and T.R. talked for a few minutes, wished one another the best, and went back to competing.
Read Reusse’s blog at startribune.com/patrick.
Memories shared Friday on Arlington Stadium, the Rangers’ original home (1972-1993):
Me: “Those giant crickets; they were the Bob Beamons of crickets. They would long-jump from the field and smash into the heat-smoked windows of the press box.’’
Claire Smith (Spink Award, 2017): “Snakes! Walking to the visitors clubhouse under the third-base grandstand. … Donnie Baylor told me he had seen snakes. I was terrified.’’
Me: “Yes, but waiters in the press box in the ’70s. Young lady would bring a gin-and-tonic right to your seat a couple of times a game.”