Your Attention Please…

May-Speaking-of-Sports-1


I believe the clinical term for it is “yard envy.”

That is when you are driving through the neighborhood and you see a yard so sweet, so awesome, that you do not even want to go home. I got yard envy in a big way late last summer. The truth is, my yard was looking great last year, if I do say so myself. But then I drove past a house with the Texas Rangers “T” carved into the front yard. I turned red with yard envy – or was it green?

Anyway, the worst part is I know the neighbor – it is Chuck Morgan, the voice of Globe Life Park. I knew Chuck was a talented man, but I had no idea he was so good with a mower.

Chuck’s talents have been on display at Rangers games since 1983. His official title is Executive Vice President of Ballpark Entertainment and Production. That title is a long way from the guy who invented the dot race … in his kitchen. “Jim Reeves told me about a race they had on the scoreboard at a minor league park in Oklahoma City,” Chuck says. “Two lights on the scoreboard raced each other, and the fans went nuts.”

Although crude by today’s standards,

the scoreboard at Arlington Stadium was much more sophisticated than the one in Oklahoma City, and Chuck put it to use. “We had a 1980s character generator, which we used to create the dots,” Chuck recalls. “I made the track in my kitchen. I tried using real Arlington Stadium dirt for my base paths, but it did not look good on camera. So we used cinnamon.”

The dot race, which now includes the Texas Legends, is his most famous innovation, but Chuck is also responsible for creating the Texas Rangers Baseball Hall of Fame. “The Hall of Fame is my favorite because the players in it deserve that kind of recognition,” he says. Chuck is also credited with the invention of the annual Rangers Fan Fest and the mascot known as Rangers Captain.

He was destined for greatness

long before he came to the Rangers. His career began in Nashville, where he was an announcer at the Grand Ole Opry. He was also the host of several nationally syndicated radio and television shows. His greatest accomplishment in Music City might have been holding a pitchfork and standing in a cornfield. But not just any random cornfield – it was the cornfield on “Hee-Haw,” in the fictitious land known as Kornfield Kounty.

In Kornfield, jokes were much more plentiful than corn. Chuck says most of them referenced his “real job” as a Nashville disc jockey, but not all of them – he recalls this exchange between him and Roy Clark: “Hey, Roy, last night I crossed an elephant with a gopher.”

Roy replied, “Oh yeah, what’d you get?”

“I don’t know, but I sure have some big holes in the backyard.”

Much of the humor was in the delivery and the over-the-top rural look that these two men were throwing down. The show was the country music version of Rowan and Martin’s “Laugh In” and was on national TV in some form or fashion from 1969-1992.

Chuck might have become a regular

on “Hee Haw” except that in 1983 he moved to Arlington to become the PA announcer for the Rangers. Chuck is proud to have lived in Arlington/Mansfield all but one year since. His kids, Rhett and Kelly, both attended Arlington schools and were in all sorts of activities in the area. Still, Chuck has not missed a home game since he began his job back in ’83.

That is 2671 straight games. Most of them have started with the signature phrase that he borrowed from the late great Mark Holtz, “It’s baseball time in Texas.” I don’t know about you, but I can’t wait for the next time I hear Chuck say that.

Chuck is like a one-man band at games

– he plays the walk-up music, triggers the fireworks and “The Natural” after a home run, coordinates the video board and announces the game. One thing he doesn’t do is cut the grass. Not even at his own home. He credits his lawn man Arqui Vargas for creating that perfect Texas T in his yard last year. Chuck came home after a night game last year and noticed the carving; Arqui said he will cut it that way as long as the Rangers are AL West Champs. That’s just great?! For me that means another summer of lawn envy.