Two historic events - One historic place
Billy Joel Closes Out Texas Rangers Ballpark - October 12th - Globe Life Park - Arlington, TX
On its face, the decision to enlist Billy Joel, making his first North Texas appearance in more than four years, as the final act to perform at Globe Life Park might seem curious. (Take it with a grain of salt that this will be the “final concert” at Globe Life Park; life always finds a way SEE XFL).
There undoubtedly were was the expected notion that a Texas-born or -bred act should have been tapped to close out the stadium’s quarter-century as home to the Texas Rangers professional baseball team. However, this makes perfect sense to have Billy Joel close out this chapter.
First of all, who are you gonna get that can FILL this place? So you need a major star, secondly, just like his contemporary Elton John who has filled a baseball stadium or three himself, it needed to have that "Big Fight Feel" and once Joel was onboard it did.
Let's unpack a few things first to illustrate my interest & involvement.
1) I was here on Opening Day in 1994, having just turned 20 years old.
2) I was here just a few short weeks ago for the Final Game here, this time as a proud father, this bookends a quarter-century of growth, memories & magic.
3) That include: Both pennant wins, Nelson Cruz's ALCS Grand Slam, Adrian Beltre's 3K hit & a million more.
So not being here for the final hurray really wasn't an option (even though we have now learned since that this might not actually be the last time we enter these hallowed grounds as we are now hearing that it will host XFL Games & other sporting events. At least it's going to good use, as though we are 25 years in, there doesn't seem much wrong with this place.
Now, in the moment, Joel’s presence made sense: Nostalgia on a grand scale was the order of the evening, and Joel’s awards-bedecked catalog provided the foundation for a satisfying two-hour excursion into the past.
Early on, the 70-year-old hit-maker turned to the crowd of more than 40,000 to confess.
“I just want to let you know, I don’t have anything new for you,” Joel said. “Same old shit.”
He then offered to let the crowd choose the kind of show he and his eight-piece band would perform. Holding up two different setlists — one filled with deep cuts and some “random, obscure tunes” and one that was “nothing but hits.” Guess which one the crowd roared for?
Whether it was a legit offer or just Joel’s cheeky way of introducing a two-hour, hit-filled night of his classic, pop-rock canon, is not clear. But the fan response came back loud and clear.
Joel and his band took the stage, which was set up in center field facing home plate, as Randy Newman’s theme from the film The Natural played, a nod to the history of baseball at the ballpark. They quickly busted into a peppy version of My Life, from Joel’s 1978 hit album 52nd Street & peppered the song’s piano intro with a quick run through the melody of The Yellow Rose of Texas before the band kicked the show into high gear.
He even covered a couple of hits from the 1970s not his own, including ZZ Top"s Tush & a rollicking take on the Eagles' Take It Easy, which was sandwiched in the middle of The River of Dreams & donned a black cowboy hat while performing Shameless, a song from his ‘89 album Storm Front that later was a hit for Garth Brooks.
The highlight of the night was perhaps the one-two punch of “Nessun Dorma,” an aria from Puccini’s opera “Turandot” and “Scenes from an Italian Restaurant,” a song that wasn’t a hit for Joel in 1977 but has remained a fan favorite. The combo has become a standard in Joel’s set and with the aria sung by his guitarist Michael Delguidice, who showed off a beautiful voice. He also sang “Tush” and “Take It Easy.”
Joel’s most famous song, “Piano Man,” closed out the main set before an upbeat, five-song encore of “We Didn’t Start the Fire,” “Uptown Girl,” “It’s Still Rock and Roll to Me,” “Big Shot” and “You May Be Right.”
And two hours exactly after the hit parade began, it was done at 10:35 p.m.
I Go to Extremes
Just the Way You Are
Movin’ Out (Anthony’s Song)
Tush (ZZ Top cover)
The Downeaster Alexa
Don’t Ask Me Why
She’s Always a Woman
Only the Good Die Young
River of Dreams
Take It Easy (Eagles cover)
Scenes from an Italian Restaurant
We Didn’t Start the Fire
It’s Still Rock and Roll to Me
You May Be Right (snippet of Led Zeppelin’s “Rock and Roll”)
Getting in & outta here was a workout all it's own but it beat the alternative of not being here for this & so glad I was. Finally made it onto this field!
Rangers Final Game at Globe Life Park (vs Yankees) - September 29th - GLP - Arlington, TX
On Sunday afternoon, 90-degree heat be damned, close to 50K fans who like me, grew up and came of age, just like the Texas Rangers did in this stadium, came to say goodbye to what's been like a second home for most for a quarter century.
As mentioned above, I was here on Opening Day in 1994 after just turned 20 years old & now for the Final Game here, this time as a proud father, this bookends a quarter-century of growth, memories & magic that include: Both pennant wins, Nelson Cruz's ALCS Grand Slam, Adrian Beltre's 3K hit & a million more.
And while those moments live inside me and cherish them dearly, a new (last) one came to be on the final day in this stadium before moving across the street next year at what will be Globe Life Field. I had waited till the very day of the game and wanted to take my 14 -month old son Miles (who attended his first game last season at the ripe old age of six weeks. To my surprise I was able to score a great seat behind home plate for $20! However when we got to the seat there was no room for anything + it was in direct sunlight (just like on Opening Day in '94 haha). So we were able to move up a dozen rows to a covered area that thankfully had several seats empty so we could have room for Miles needs for the day. But just as we were able to move up, I saw a familiar face walk out of the Rangers dugout headed to the mound.
From the moment surprise guest Nolan Ryan was introduced to throw out the final first pitch till he disappeared back into the clubhouse I had long streams of tears running down my face. While I'm grateful for the current & new generations of players to come, I have lamented that Miles will have never seen the greatest of all time until this moment he did. Even if it was just a ceremonious first pitch by Nolan as a senior citizen that Mies will surely not remember, it meant everything to me & set the pace for one more unforgettable afternoon on these sacred grounds.
The game itself moved quickly. Behind crisp work of Lance Lynn, who pitched into the eighth, the Rangers won for the second straight day to finish at 78-84, an 11-game improvement over last season. Lynn finished the season with 246 strikeouts and a club-record 31 consecutive outings of at least 100 pitches.
It broke a mark held by the aforementioned Ryan, who, quite frankly, was the only thing that constituted a "legacy" for the organization before it moved into this stadium. It was a nice way to finish.
Even the final score was a salute to history. It was the same score by which the Rangers beat New York in Game 6 of the AL Championship Series in 2010 to advance to the World Series for the first time that I took my sister to.
When everything was officially done the Rangers toasted the legacy that grew there. One by one, an all-time team of those who called Globe Life Park home was introduced. The crowd responded with throaty "Yu's" and "Cruz" when Yu Darvish and Nelson Cruz, both unable to attend because they are still playing elsewhere, were introduced. They chanted Mike Napoli's last name, just as they had in the 2011 World Series, when he was introduced.
Delirious when Josh Hamilton strode from the bullpen on to the field but Miles & I remained seated & quiet just as we had when they did this nauseating introduction of local War Criminal George W. Bush. Disgusting to see but Bush as hero is just part & parcel of the bullshit that's woven into local culture here. Not all of us feel that way.
On to better moments as Adrian Beltre, Rusty Greer & unthinkably Will Clark all took their spot in their previous positions on the field. I'm a massive fans of Clark's and his first game as a Ranger was on Opening Day in this very park so first Nolan & now Will the Thrill.
Michael Young delivered a ceremonial final pitch to Rodriguez, who then fired a strike to Elvis Andrus at second base.
What followed was all ceremony - First, home plate was dug up, then transferred into a convertible with former Arlington mayor Richard Greene, who had been in charge of the city when this park was built. The former Ranger greats, the Southlake Carroll High School marching band, the costumed Texas legends, the racing dots, front office staff and the hotdog-shaped Boomstick Mobile all formed a procession to the new stadium where home plate was ceremonially installed.
One final chance to take in a memory at a 26-year-old, still sparkling stadium that was done in only by the weather. It is the nicest baseball stadium ever to close. Globe Life Field when it opens in March, the new stadium will have a retractable roof, climate control and exceptional technology. There will be plenty to celebrate & you can count on Miles & I being there for the new Opening Day. Thank you Rangers for giving us 25 years of joy, here's to 25 more.