Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Goodbye Alumni Legacy Weekend?

The first thing I noticed this year when the Rangers' Promotional Schedule came out?

It wasn't the ridiculous SEVEN bobblehead giveaways (do they have seven players worth commemorating?).

It wasn't the two t-shirts (give me a wearable over a knick-knack any day, thanks).

It wasn't the four concerts, three of whom I've never heard of in my life (Toadies FTW).

It was the lack of the annual Alumni Legacy Weekend.

Alumni Weekend, as you may recall, is the biggest event I go to every year. The Rangers would typically bring in between 20 and 40 players who would sign autographs before either one or two of the weekend's games. Usually the team would also induct one or two people into the team Hall Of Fame.  This year of course is the much-deserved retirement of Ivan Rodriguez's number. I would have figured that would replace the Hall of Fame induction, but that there would still be an Alumni Weekend.

And yet, nothing.

The prevailing sentiment over at TAC is that a few players will likely be around that weekend at least, but that the Rangers got tired of complaints about how poorly it was run or the terrible selection of alumni who are at the event.

If the latter was your complaint, shame on you. If we're being honest, the Rangers are not the Yankees. No World Series wins, not even an appearance until 2010. They didn't even play a meaningful October game until 1996, and won one whole playoff game--not even a playoff series, a single playoff GAME-- until that 2010 season.

Additionally, it's not like the big names tend to stay in the area. Most have gone onto bigger things with bigger teams, and lived elsewhere in retirement.  While it's true that many teams have better player selections, many of those teams also have more alumni living in their area. Cite Hall of famers Gaylord Perry, Nolan Ryan, Fergie Jenkins, Goose Gossage, Bert Blyleven, and perfect-game pitcher Kenny Rogers all you want: the fact is they aren't going out of their way for a weekend without a big reason, and as far as I know no team will spring for a flight, hotel, food, and ground transportation for them all.  Most of the past alumni who come out live locally or just happen to be in town that weekend.

And I'm okay with that. It's great to see guys I watched as a kid in Cleveland like Pete O'Brien and Jerry Browne. I enjoy getting to chat with Claude Osteen and Toby Harrah (his wife is a hoot). And I finally found a photo of Scott Sheldon pitching that I was hoping to get signed.

Sure, they can run things with it far better. It would be nice to see a list of probable, or at least potential players, further than a few hours in advance. Several teams with similar events have a list out weeks ahead of time. I would rather know a player might be there and not have him show up than to find out a player is there that I had no idea about. That way I can have cards I might not need instead of needing cards I don't have: for example Tucker Ashford in 2016, Mario Ramos in 2014, and Steve Dreyer in 2013.

But Alumni Legacy Weekend is a popular event with fans regardless. And the long lines for guys like Gerald Alexander, Rick Henninger, and Jim Gideon should be evidence of that. None of them even pitched 100 innings in the majors, and yet the fans still flock to meet them.

I hope this is just a one-year thing, that it was canceled this season to keep it Pudge-centric. But when one considers the preposterous greed shown by this organization in jacking up prices for tickets and parking every year, standing strong against having a public transit line that comes into Arlington to maximize that parking money, and most of all making empty threats of moving if the city doesn't replace their still-VERY-new stadium, it just smacks of evidence that we won't be seeing another Alumni Weekend again.

Thank you to the former Rangers that I got to meet. It was good while it lasted.

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