This is the tale of my following the Texas Rangers to all 9 of their 2011 postseason playoff games.
2 games at Tampa
3 games at Detroit
4 games at the World Series in Saint Louis
I did not start out with the intention to go to all of these games, but favorable circumstances over and over allowed these trips to happen for me.
Following a great summer baseball trip to 15 ball parks and stadiums (Check this out at www.grandslamtrip.blogspot.com -- the June entries), it was playoff baseball time.
This is Jeannie and me (Walter) at Game 1 of the Tigers-Rangers Series. (Courtesy of Bill and Bob Utter).
Tampa won the first,
and Texas won the second.
This meant that the next two games would be in Tampa in the best 3 out of 5 series.
Since Tampa is a "small-market team," (but with the biggest heart in baseball) it would be easy to get tickets from fans outside the Tampa stadium. I decided to try to go.
Thanks to a Southwest Airlines Award ticket provided by one of the world's greatest AP Biology teachers, Alan Cotten
I got to Tampa's Tropicana Field about 4 p.m. for the 5:07 p.m. first pitch and was able to purchase a ticket from this girl's boyfriend's father. I joined the three of them.
This is Bill, the boyfirend's dad, who grew up in Boston.
We are the same age and had a great time talking about baseball and the "old days."
This is a picture of the pregame activities. At the opening playoff game in any ballpark, both teams line up on the foul lines and each player, coach, manager, trainer etc. is introduced. The blue is a tarp that covers thousands of seats which the Rays were not able to sell.
Raymond, Tampa Rays Mascot
Texas won Game Three 4 to 3, scoring all 4 runs in the 7th inning. Texas takes a 2 games to 1 lead for the best 3 out of 5 series.
Tuesday, October 4, 2011: Game 4 between Tampa Rays and Texas Rangers -- First Pitch at 2:07 p.m.
I got to Tropicana Field about 1:00 p.m. to try to purchase a ticket, and I got one from Paul, a season ticket holder who grew up in New Jersey right across the Hudson River from Yankee Stadium.
Again, Paul was close to my age, and we talked about the old days especially those at Yankee Stadium when Mickey Mantle, Yogi Berra etc. played with Casey Stengal as the manager.
Very nice seats for Game 4.
The Rangers won the game 4-3 again and won the series. The Rangers scored all 4 runs by home runs, three, all on the first pitch, by third baseman superstar Adrian Beltre.
Texas would now play for the American League Championship (The Pennant) against the winner of the Yankees-Tigers series.
I decided that if the Tigers beat the Yankees that I would try to travel to Detroit to watch the Rangers play the Tigers in Games 3, 4, and 5. New York would be too expensive and too much trouble. The first two games of the American League Championship Series would be in Texas if Detroit were the opponent.
I put a Detroit plane flight and hotel on hold at great rates to be ready in case the Tigers beat the Yankees in Game 5, which Detroit did 3 to 2.
Game 2 was a great game as the Rangers won 7-3 on an 11th inning grand slam home run by Nelson Cruz, his second of the night. His first home run tied the game 3-3 in the bottom of the 7th inning.
Grand slam pictures:
Game 3 would be the next night, Tuesday, October 11, in Detroit's Comerica Park
Tuesday morning, I boarded a plane for Detroit accompanied by many members of the Dallas Fort Worth media along with legendary country singer, Charlie Pride, who sang the National Anthem at Game 2 the night before.
Jeannie and I had been to Detroit in June for a game and we really enjoyed it along with eating at the Pegasus restaurant in nearby Greektown.
Upon arriving at the Detroit Airport about 1 p.m., I asked a lady if she would like to share a cab (about $50) to go downtown. She said that she was on the company dime, and invited me just to ride with her. An auspicious start to the trip.
Soon, I was back in Detroit's Greektown.
About 6:30 I headed toward Comerica Tiger Park to find a ticket. I encountered this trombone player, and I offered him $1 to play "The Eyes of Texas."
This is Bill. He sold me a ticket. His friend was not able to come. We had a beer before the game. Bill had recently moved to Detroit from Boston, but he said that he was going back to Boston in a few days to see his Patriots play the Dallas Cowboys.
This is a view from our seats of the Tigers' opening ceremonies.
The Rangers scored 1 run in the first, but by the 7th inning stretch, the Tigers were ahead 4-1.
View of Comerica Park after the game from my hotel room.
Game 4: Wednesday, October 12: Texas Rangers at Detroit Tigers: 4:05 Eastern
This is a view of downtown Detroit from my hotel room on Wednesday afternoon. A cloudy dreary day that would be a harbinger for Detroit Tiger fans.
The First Pitch
In the bottom of the 7th, Tiger Brandon Inge hit a homerun to tie the game at 3.
The game went to extra innings, and I moved to a standing room section behind the plate.
Naturally Cruz hit a 3-run homerun to make the score 7-3. Here is the celebration at the plate.
A spectacular game 4 in Detroit. Rangers lead the Series 3 games to 1.
The game 5 pitcher for Detroit is possibly the best pitcher in baseball, Justin Verlander, and Texas would have its best regular season pitcher going, C. J. Wilson.
View from my seats sold to me by three old intoxicated Detroit guys whose friend was not able to make it.
Rayburn also hit a homerun in the 7th to make it Tigers 7, Rangers 2.
Ten years ago, right after 9-11, my oldest son Stewart (15 at the time) and I were watching game 5 of the New York Yankees -- Arizona Diamondbacks World Series on TV. It went into extra innings and the Yankees won in the bottom of the 12th inning to go ahead 3 games to 2. This followed Game 4 when Derek Jeter (Mr. November) hit a ninth inning walk-off home run for a Yankee win.
I had never been to a World Series game, and I asked Stewart if he would want to go on Saturday to Phoenix to see Game 6 if we could get good plane rates (since it was just after 9-11, that was likely). He said SURE, we got some reservations, and Saturday morning, November 3, we flew to Phoenix, got tickets for face value from scalpers and went to the game.
The 2011 World Series
Texas Rangers vs Saint Louis Cardinals
World Series Game 1: Rangers at Saint Louis Cardinals, October 19, 2011, Busch Stadium
Around noon on Wednesday, October 19, I left Dallas Love Field, the gates festively ballooned-up by Southwest Airlines, for Game 1 of the 2011 World Series in Saint Louis.
In the Saint Louis Airport, lots of Cardinal Spirit.
While looking for the airport's Metrolink train to ride downtown, I met another Ranger fan, Jordan Murray who was looking for the same. Jordan suggested that we just share a cab, and we did. Pictured is Jordan, graduate of Wichita Falls High School (Old High) and the cab driver who reminded me of Samuel (Nyambi Nyambi), who works at the restaurant in TV's "Mike and Molly."
From my hotel room, I could see the top of the Busch Stadium. Since Michelle Obama and Jill Biden were going to attend Game 1, there was increased security. You might be able to see the security person on the top of the stadium.
After a great late afternoon meal, I headed toward Busch Stadium to search for a ticket from either a fan or the dreaded scalper.
But I ran into some Ranger fans from Dallas, Morgan and Keira, freshmen at Missouri U who graduated from W. T. White (where I taught 13 years before they were born) and Ursuline. They drove about 150 miles from Mizzou to try to get into the game, but they have two guy Cardinal fans with them. They were going to drive back to Mizzou right after the game so they would not miss class (or so they said):
These two Cardinal fans below sold me a nice ticket, and they are also famous anthropologists (not as famous as Indiana Jones, but they were featured in National Geographic in the February, 2010 issue). They work with chimps in the Congo. Dave Morgan and Crickette Sanz. They have spent the better part of 10 years in the Congo. I read the NGeo issue, and it was fascinating. Check it out. They also referred me to a website: www.Congo-apes.org.
My seat was not with these two anthropologists, but was next to one of their anthropologist colleagues at Washington University, who has spent a lot of time in Madagascar and may know more about lemurs than anyone on the planet.
Pitcher Alexi Ogando came into the game, but gave up a run scoring pinch-hit single (almost caught by left-fielder Nelson Cruz) to Allen Craig, and the Cardinals took the lead 3-2.
We sang "God Bless America" at the 7th inning stretch.
ESPN commentator booth outside Busch Stadium and happy fans.
The weather got a little better, so I took a walk to look at the sites on the afternoon before game 2.
Plus a suprise visitor is flying in to go to game 2 with me.
Then Elvis Andrus got a base hit, but Kinsler was held at third base. The throw from the outfielder was mishandled and Andrus went to second.
The Cardinals, in a controversial move, replaced Motte with pitcher Rhodes. Josh Hamilton hit a sacrifice fly to score Kinsler and Elvis Andrus moved from 2nd to 3rd. The Cardinals changed pitchers again replacing Rhodes with Lynn. Michael Young came up to bat and hit another sacrifice fly that scored Andrus and gave the Rangers a 2-1 lead. The Cardinals did not score in the bottom of the 9th and the Rangers won game 2 of the World Series 2-1, and they celebrated.
World Series tied 1 game each, and the teams go back to Texas for 3 games beginning on October 22.
I watched Game 3 on television as Albert Pujols hit 3 home runs (previously achieved in a World Series game only by Babe Ruth and Reggie Jackson) to lead the Cardinals to a 16 to 7 win and a 2 games to 1 lead in the World Series.
I also watched Game 4 on television. It was a close one to nothing game until the 6th inning when Mike Na-Po-Li hit a monster 3-run home run to put the Rangers ahead 4-0, which was the final score. The Rangers have now tied the series 2 games each.
About 3 p.m. I took the shuttle to the airport, and the Metrolink to Busch Stadium, arriving about 4 p.m. This is the scene at Busch Stadium.
When I was getting to leave, a man asked me if he could have my table. I said sure, but we started talking, and he offered to buy me a beer. This is Chris and his girl friend of 30 years, Barb, who like my wife Jeannie, is a teacher.
They were a very friendly couple and they were meeting some friends to watch the game at J Buck's.
After J Buck's, I walked all around the Busch Stadium area for about an hour looking for a ticket seller. There were few sellers, but a hundred people were seeking tickets.
The Rangers scored 2 in the first inning, but that would be all of their runs for the night.
The Saint Louis Cardinals won Game Seven 6-2 and won the 2011 World Series 4 games to 3.