The baseball is season is only a week old and I’m still reminiscing about Opening Day. Sure, it was a bummer that we didn’t win, but there were some fun things that made the day special. Here are my favorite photos from Opening Day.
By Kaylan Eastepp
I smell freshly cut grass.
I see hot dog buns being delivered to a concession stand and refrigerators of beer being stocked. Food is being prepped for a 1:05 start.
I feel the heat of the sun as it warms my face.
I close my eyes and listen to the sounds of the park before gates open and the crowds descend into the seating bowl.
Only the songs of birds can be heard. All is calm. All is right.
I step onto the field and know that many legends have stood where I now stand.
Nolan Ryan. Pudge Rodriguez. Michael Young.
Future legends will take the field this afternoon. But for now, it’s just me and the field.
It’s been far too long since I’ve stood on the grass. Far too long since I’ve heard the pop of a ball into a mitt. Far too long since I’ve heard the crowd swell with pride as their Texas Rangers take the field.
Today is the day we get reacquainted. All is calm. All is right.
It’s time to return to work; to focus on the things still left undone.
Report to the clubhouse. Managers Meeting. Open the Gates. Batting Practice Begins. Crowds stream in and steal the sights and sounds I enjoyed only hours before. I gladly share this day with them… for it is because of them that my job exists.
The bustle begins to slow as the National Anthem rings through the ballpark speakers. It is 1:05, time for the first pitch to start another season. Baseball has returned.
Emotions will get the best of me today. They always do.
The calm has vanished, but all is right. This is Opening Day.
Dear reader: I apologize that I haven’t kept up with my blog. Honestly, I didn’t think I had anything to write. I got to a point in the season where I felt like everything was common place and you wouldn’t be interested in what I had to say. But I’m trying to a take a step back and look at things differently this year.
So for now, here are a few images & descriptions of what it has been like in 2014 from a social view.
MICHAEL YOUNG RETIREMENT
It was very cool to be in the room when Michael Young addressed the media on his retirement. It was always a great guy in the clubhouse and very nice to me. I wish him nothing but the best in his new endeavors. Selfishly, I want to see him back in a Rangers uni as a coach/manager/staff member of some kind.
I visited several Academy Sports + Outdoors during Winter Caravan. Fans never cease to amaze me on what they bring to sign. From over-size posters, to bobbleheads, to the largest bat I’ve ever seen… fans bring it! Plus, the guys are great with the little kids that come through the line. I love this little man giving Wash a fist pound. A big kid meets a little kid. Love it!
AWARDS DINNER & FAN FEST
The sweetest time of year, Spring Training. The warmth of Arizona. The relaxing tempo of the players. I get so much accomplished in my short time in Arizona. It’s so much fun. If you haven’t visited the facility in Surprise, I highly recommend you go!
Next item: Opening Day
After the exhibition game in Arlington, I traveled with the team to one of my favorite cities in Texas, San Antonio.
I haven’t had time to go to my usual haunts, but I’ve seen some cool things.
The team plane awaits.
Tanner Scheppers feeding the birds at the Quadrangle at Fort Sam Houston.
Michael Kirkman got right in there and fed the deer.
The people with Fort Sam Houston said this was the nicest deer. I think he just likes me for the corn.
Earlier, I was trying to get Tanner to let the birds eat out of his hand. He said he’d be crazy to do that. You can see he wasn’t as worried about the deer. Maybe it’s the fence…
However, I’m not sure he really enjoyed feeding the deer either. :)
On the other hand, Josh Lindblom really had a good time.
It was his idea to go see the deer. I wish I had taken a picture, but at one point I looked over at him and he was sitting down in the grass trying to feed some of the birds. They didn’t get very close but he made a valiant effort.
Before we left, Josh got a chicken to eat out of his hand. #WishGranted
This is my favorite picture from the Alamodome. I’m right behind the dirt around home plate and Holland stood on the mound. One of the coolest things for me. #DoesntTakeMuch…
Tonight we head to Houston for the season opener but it will be bitter sweet for me. I love Easter and I love baseball. Missing my church service tomorrow will be tough but I’ve located a church within walking distance from the hotel. Yea!
Tomorrow will also be my first opening day in another park. I’ve seen countless opening days at Rangers Ballpark but I’m pumped to see one in another park.
And, this one isn’t from the road trip…
Thursday before the exhibition game, I went with A.J. Pierzynski to the Florida Gators basketball practice at Cowboys Stadium. You can’t tell it’s me, but I’m the one in the black jacket. With my job I always have my head in my phone. #SocialMediaProblems
Until next time… Let’s Go Rangers!
Saying it’s been a while since I posted something is a bit of an understatement. To be completely honest with you, I was so upset at the way the season ended last year that it took me a while to crawl out of my baseball-induced depression.
I’m sure you’re thinking what do you have to be depressed about?!?! You have a cool job where you interact with players, you work for a Major League team, and you work out of a ballpark everyday… how bad can it be?
But the passion I have for this team goes beyond the walls of the ballpark. I live, eat, breath, sleep Rangers baseball. When I was watching the team crash and burn at the end of September, my heart was slowly being ripped out of my chest. (If you’ve been a fan as long as I have, I’m sure you experienced the same feeling as me.)
But it’s time to realize that it’s a new year… new team… new season.
So, you ask… where have I been?
Here is an update of what my off-season looked like:
ESPN Radio Event in the Captain Morgan Club – December 2012
Jackie Moore, Tanner Scheppers, and Steve Buechele
Buechele didn’t want me to snap his picture because he had candy cane in his mouth. I told him he was crazy… he could just smile with his mouth closed. Or not smile at all. Silly guy.
Fan Fest 2012 – January 2013
We set up a #RangersSocialVIP event on twitter and gave away the exclusive opportunity to meet Cruz. (If you’re not already following along, check us out on @Rangers – #ShamelessPlug)
Top row (L-R): Derek Holland, Rusty Greer – Bottom row (L-R): Robbie Ross, Craig Gentry
In February, we hosted the first Boat Show at Rangers Ballpark. Naturally there was some pre-event promotion at Fan Fest. Can you guess which guy had the best time in the boat?
Winter Caravan – January 2013
Later in January, I went on a week long bus trip with Brandon Snyder, Derek Holland, and Josh Lindblom. Plus, Ian Kinsler and David Murphy joined us at a few points along the way.
It’s not all work… we were treated to a San Antonio Spurs game and we were able to visit the locker room after the game. Stephen Jackson, Spurs shooting guard, hung out with the guys for a bit and took several photos with them.
I witnessed the guys bonding on this trip…
After the autograph signing at Academy Sports & Outdoors in Round Rock, Josh Lindblom and Derek Holland picked out a few things to wear for the night. Yes… they went to dinner and downtown Austin wearing these ridiculous clothes. And, yes, they fit in just fine in Austin. #KeepAustinWeird
While the guys were signing at Fort Hood, one of the soldiers asked the guys to sign his boot. Kind of an unusual request, but as you can see, the guys were happy to oblige.
And, Brandon Snyder and Derek Holland got a little workout in on the lateral ski machine at our stop in Waco.
To say the least, it wasn’t a dull trip!
Spring Training 2013
Then, it was off to Spring Training for a quick couple of days.
Chase Field from the airplane while landing in Phoenix.
No rest for the weary… it’s early days and late nights in Surprise.
Photo day: we start before the sun is up.
First stop for a player during photo day, Rangers Photo Room
Then, around the corner to more people taking pictures.
Head outside (where it was very cold this year) and film all kinds of commercials for various TV station needs.
Get back inside for a press conference with Wash.
Back to baseball for an intrasquad game.
Pretty cool to watch the game from the same view point as the manager.
Something interesting… all players shoes are cleaned after they leave the field. The clubbies make them look like they are right out of the box! #TakesTalent
The second day was all about a day in the life of a player. Mitch Moreland was gracious enough to let me be his shadow for the day. You can check out that day with Mitch here: Day in the Life: Mitch Moreland
I took tons of photos that day and at one point, I felt very intrusive… I was snapping pictures like crazy. I looked at him and said sorry for being so much in his space. He told me not to worry about it and then proceeded to get closer and closer until he was in my space… I snapped this pic while he was walking to me. It was neat to see him open up and joke around; even joking with me.
While I was following Mitch, I captured a few other key moments that not everyone can see.
After taking infield practice, Kinsler asked Washington a question about fielding. Wash spent several minutes with him giving him pointers, different techniques, coaching him on glove position, where the ball comes in, how to move your wrist, etc. Although I couldn’t hear everything Wash was saying, it was a great look into how Wash interacts with the team, how he teaches them, and how the players listen when he speaks.
Another part of my job is helping the players with their twitter account… things like getting them verified, helping them reset their password, helping change their email address to something they have access to so they can reset their password.
That’s what happened to Olt this offseason. The email address he was using was no longer available to him and he’d forgotten his password, so he couldn’t log-in to twitter to change the email address. When he’d try to reset his password, the email was being sent to an email address that he couldn’t access. It was a vicious cycle.
I’m talking to him here about setting up a completely new email address that I can give to twitter to update his account.
Then it was back to Arlington to prepare for the exhibition games and Opening Day at Rangers Ballpark on April 5!
I love when my flight takes me over my second home… Rangers Ballpark.
The team returns home for the Exhibition game next Thursday, March 28. Then I’ll travel to Houston (by way of San Antonio for two additional exhibition games) for the Season Opener on Sunday, March 31.
I can’t wait for baseball, but I seriously can’t wait for Rangers Baseball! 5 Days and counting until the Exhibition Game…
Before today’s two hour rain delay, I had the privilege to see a new player arrive in the clubhouse. While that may not sound that exciting, it was pretty cool to see how the current team responded to the new call up.
The clubhouse was crowded with media. The baseball writers had just come back in from meeting with Ron Washington. Radio and TV crews were busy getting interviews with the players. The clubbies were scurrying around cleaning out a locker for the new guy, with the assistance of Mike Napoli. They were moving Beltre’s extra stuff.
Wilmer Font arrived. He walks in through the back door, through the kitchen from the parking garage. He was wearing a white polo with yellow horizontal stripes, dark blue jeans, and tennis shoes. He was carrying his Rangers travel duffle bag.
He walks into the clubhouse and starts looking for his locker. Shouts from across the room begin… “Hi Wilmer.” “Hey, Wil.” “Congrats, man.”
He sets his bag down and Ian Kinsler and Michael Young call him over. Handshakes. Hugs. Congratulations on the call up. Welcome to the Rangers.
Mike Olt, his teammate in Frisco, comes over with a hug and congratulations.
Jurickson Profar, also a teammate in Frisco, shoots him a smile from across the room.
Elvis Andrus greets him in Spanish.
Each guy made a point to say hi when they saw him.
I haven’t been around another team’s clubhouse. I haven’t met too many players on other teams. But I love our guys. They didn’t have to stop what they were doing to welcome him to the team. Mike Napoli didn’t have to help the clubbies clean out a locker.
Our guys stand behind one another, rookie or veteran.
In doing this job, I’ve found I have to be ready with my camera at a moment’s notice. And, I’ve found I take a ton of photos… more than what’s needed but I try to get that perfect shot for posting on social media.
Because of that (I call it obsessive-compulsive-on-the-camera-button), I have too many photos I can’t use but want to share. Here are a few of my current favorites from today’s 40th Anniversary All-Time Team/Alumni Weekend and Eric Nadel’s Texas Rangers Baseball Hall of Fame induction ceremony.
The weekend beings with the 40th Anniversary Luncheon honoring the All-Time Team and Eric Nadel. They had the most American desert I could imagine… apple pie with a Rangers cookie. It looks amazing and tasted delicious.
Waiting for the celebration on the field tonight, I met several of our prestigious alumni in the media interview room for a little twitter chat. Charlie Hough, Buddy Bell, and Pudge Rodriguez were kind enough to take over the account for a few minutes. I was a big fan of Pudge back in the day, so that was a special moment for me.
In addition to the guys tweeting from @Rangers, some of the alumni were signing an over-sized All-Time Team poster. Here’s Jim Sundberg and Kenny Rogers inking their photo.
When I looked back after snapping a quick photo of Sundberg and Rogers, I saw Nelson Cruz and Michael Young catching up with Rubén Sierra.
After I took my first photo, Elvis Andrus decided to join the party.
Not related to tonight’s ceremonies, but a couple of the players in the clubhouse were trying to prevent me from taking a picture of Holland’s jersey. It took a few tries before I could get a clear photo…
It’s a short homestand, but some of the best memories were made for Rangers fans… including one in the office.
While the Rangers were on the extended road trip, I was trying to think of something to write. I was at a loss. I had so many Rangers and All-Star hours under my belt that I think I was tapped out. But when I was surfing through the pictures on my phone, I always landed on a few that made me smile and wish the team was back in town.
Here are my favorites for this month… so far:
I know there will be other photos this month that will make me smile. I’ll be sure to share those with you…
Going to the All-Star game on the team plane is as cool as it sounds, but it’s not all glitz and glamor. It’s actually kind of gritty at times.
Before I went on the All-Star trip with the team, I thought their travel and lifestyle seemed cool. Fun and glamorous at times. Chartered flights. Sleek and stylish hotels.
While it’s some of that, but it’s also very late nights, tired days, and not enough time to do anything really fun in the city.
Here’s how the last two days went
After a 45 minute delay and extra innings on Sunday night (July 8), the team buses left the stadium an hour after the last out. You go through security check on the runway before loading the plane. Once in the air, the short flight is broken up by dinner and an inflight show. If I recall after all the excitement of the last couple of days it was reruns of The Office and 30 Rock.
We landed in Kansas City at a small municipal airport and each person had to claim their bag as it was coming off the plane before getting on the bus to the hotel. The bus drops you off at the hotel around 3:00 a.m. CT and there are already autograph hounds waiting near the door of the hotel. Seriously.
The best part of the ride to the hotel was someone going over the next day’s schedule with Elvis Andrus. He was told he needed to be on the player’s bus to the stadium at noon. He had to be told a few times before it finally sunk-in in his tired mind. The person going over the schedule finally asked him:
“Do you want me to call you at 10?”
“No, how about 11:30?” said Elvis.
“Okay, 11:30 it is.”
For the record, he was on-time for the media event the next day.
Rundown of Events for Day One: Home Run Derby
- Media Event at Arrowhead Stadium (Home of the NFL Kansas City Chiefs) – Large room with all the players from the American League team with tons of media running round from table to table. All of the Rangers were on one row at the back of the media room. We jokingly called it “Rangers Row” but it’s really what it was.
- Clubhouse at Kauffman Stadium – Getting settled in for the next two events
- American League Batting Practice
- Team Meeting
- Home Run Derby
- Post-Game event for the players and their families
- Catch the bus back to the hotel
Not all of the guys stuck around for the derby. If they had been through the All-Star festivities before, they took this valuable time to spend time with their family. (Most of the guys had family with them – wifes/fiancés/girlfriends/moms & dads/siblings/friends) When I asked Ian Kinsler where he and his wife, Tess, went he told me they ate at a low-key hibachi grill and went to a second place for a few after dinner drinks. I asked him if he was recognized out at dinner and he said no… which is nice compared to home.
Rundown of Events for Day Two: 83rd All-Star Game
- Red Carpet Show/Parade – The players caught their ride at the hotel and were set to ride the red carpet with family/friends down through the plaza in Kansas City. Some of the guys were interviewed by MLB Network. Fans lined the blocks and cheered and waved at all the players as they drove by. Some threw gifts to the crowd from the back of the truck.
- Head to Kauffman Stadium to prepare for the game right after the parade
- Media Availability in the clubhouse
- Batting Practice
- All-Star Game
- Catch the bus for the airport
The buses rolled away from the stadium an hour after the last out. We returned to the small municipal airport where our plane was loaded and ready to take off. We went through security check and were in the air pretty quickly. An hour and half later, we were landing at DFW around 1:30 a.m. CT. Catch the bus back to the stadium and drive home.
I didn’t expect the two late nights or that it would affect me the way it did, but the tradeoff of late nights and going on the trip to the All-Star game are worth it. Every tired second.
Now I can truly say I appreciate what these guys do every three to four days; catching planes, staying in hotels, suffering through late nights while continuing to play baseball like the professionals they are.
The team has tonight and tomorrow off with the next game in Seattle on Friday. I hope our eight All-Stars can catch up on some well-deserved sleep and additional time with their family.