Fort Worth Star-Telegram (TX)
Grandfather would have loved Rangers' success
Lee Williams, firstname.lastname@example.org
My grandfather Abe Watson was a farmer. He lived with my grandmother -- we called her "Kike" -- in a modest three-bedroom house on a red dirt road outside of Knox City, a farming community about 90 miles north of Abilene.
A large vegetable garden took up a big chunk of land next to the house. There was a storm cellar out back, plus two barns, grain bins, a water well -- and a big, blue sky that gave way to endless stars at night.
As a kid I spent parts of my summers on that farm, where a wonderfully slow routine was practiced daily.
Weekday mornings, I'd get in Abe's Volkswagen bug and ride with him to downtown Knox City, where we'd go to the American Legion Hall.
While the men -- all of them World War I veterans -- drank coffee out of plain white cups and played dominoes, I taught myself to play pool, usually nursing a cold bottle of Orange Crush.
They'd talk mostly politics, weather and sports.
Sitting next to the domino tables were big brass spittoons -- their sides splattered with tobacco juice. I always wondered who emptied those.
We'd head back to the farm for lunch, usually something like black-eyed peas, okra, fresh-cut onions and tomatoes, pork chops and homemade yeast rolls.
After lunch Abe -- that's what we called him -- would settle into his vinyl-covered recliner and watch Days of Our Lives before taking a nap.
In the evening, after supper, Abe would take a walk down the red dirt road, looking at the crops, enjoying the quiet.
When he got back, it was time for baseball.
Abe was a huge baseball fan.
He had been a pitcher in the Army, and even in his twilight years, he still played catch with me and my brother in the front yard. He'd scold me when I tried to throw curveballs, saying I was going to ruin my arm -- but then turn around and show me the right grip for when the time was right.
Living in Knox City, he really didn't have a major league team to follow; the Astros were just too far away.
Then the Washington Senators moved to Arlington and became the Texas Rangers.
And Abe finally had his team.
Every evening during the summer, after returning from his walk, Abe would grab his bulky black radio and place it on the kitchen table. We'd sit down -- I'd fiddle with the dials to get better reception -- and listen to Texas Rangers baseball.
Every night .
That first year, 1972, the announcers were Don Drysdale and Bill Mercer, followed in '73 by Mercer and Dick Risenhoover.
Abe was a faithful fan, listening from start to finish. Sure, he'd get frustrated and snap off the radio, but he'd always come back. If the game was still going at 10, he'd run to catch the local news on the television in the living room, then hurry back to the kitchen for the game's final innings.
When we were lucky, we'd get to munch on Kike's fried peach pies.
On the mornings after the games, Abe, who didn't see too well, would have someone read him the box score from the Abilene Reporter-News . Not all box scores, just the Rangers'.
Fantasy baseball did not exist.
Abe was a big believer in Toby Harrah and Jim Bibby in the early years.
He thought it was a mistake for the Rangers to start high school pitching phenom David Clyde in 1973 -- though I'm pretty sure he got excited when Clyde struck out three Minnesota Twins in the first inning of his first start.
He did not like manager Billy Martin.
Abe bought one of those monster satellite dishes in the late '70s or early '80s and was able to watch some Ranger games -- hoping someday he'd get to see them in the playoffs -- but that never happened.
Abe died in December 1985 at age 91.
Abe would have liked this team.
Cliff Lee's work ethic would have impressed him. Josh Hamilton's recovery would have inspired him.
Michael Young would have been his favorite player.
He would have disliked Alex Rodriguez.
And he would have been mildly amused by the claw and antlers.
So I'm thinking that for Abe and the many other listeners gone by -- who longed for that day when the Rangers would play in the World Series -- I'm going to dust off an old radio, place it on the kitchen table and tune in for Game 1.
Lee Williams is a metro editor for the Star-Telegram who grew up on Texas Rangers baseball. 817-390-7840.
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