Long Ago and Farr Away

By Dave Ervin

As the Rangers battle the Red Sox this weekend for early season AL supremecy, I’ve found myself in a nostalgic baseball mood. Sometimes the best memories we have of the game have very little to do with what happened on the field.

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They Don’t Make ’em Like They Used To

Steve Farr was a middle reliever and occasional closer for several clubs in the late 80s and early 90s. He was never an all-star or major player on the MLB scene, but he remains one of my favorite players of all time because of an interaction I had with him when I was ten years old.

The Rangers were playing the Royals and my dad had six tickets to the game. He took me, my brother Jacob, my cousin Johnny and my best friend Zach. Our seats weren’t great, but after about three innings my dad gave us the go ahead to move to the seats in the front row, right next to the visitor’s dugout. This was back when you could do that sort of thing. We’d all be shown a quick escort back to our seats if we tried that trick today. But Arlington Stadium in 1990 rarely had to deal with any issues of fan rule-breaking. The Rangers were probably just thrilled there were folks in the stands at all.

My dad kept his seat and the four of us watched the game from our new primo spot. It was great, not only because we got a close-up view of the action, but we were right next to the Royals bullpen and Mr. Farr took it upon himself to chat with us for the remainder of the game. He talked to us about baseball, about school, about who knows what else. At one point he flexed his muscles for us and we all oohd and ahhd.

Jacob thought it would be funny if he heckled the bullpen catcher. He started singing “Bob Boone was a man! He was an UGLY man!” The four-time All-Star catcher sneered at us with a look that let us all know he didn’t much like kids. Of course Boone had a couple of kids of his own that would grow up to be all-stars themselves.

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My Brother Might’ve Been Right…

Sometime around the fourth inning Johnny waved a player toward him.  He held out his ratty baseball glove. “Hey, do you think you could get Bo Jackson to autograph this at halftime?” The guy laughed and shook his head. “This isn’t football, kid.” Poor Johnny didn’t know he’d just semi-insulted George Brett. We did get a smile and a wave from Jackson later in the game.

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Glad He Had a Sense of Humor About it That Day…

The game continued and we soaked in every bit of it, not completely aware of just how lucky we were to be hanging out with real Major Leaguers. When I got home I rifled through my baseball cards and found one of Steve Farr. His big burly mustache cocked over a playful grin, his hands under his biceps in an attempt to make them look bigger than they actually were. In retrospect Farr might’ve been a little full of himself, but jeez, what a nice guy.

I’m currently in the process of paring down my collection. Three kids and a small house has a way of weeding out baseball cards. But I can’t depart with that Steve Farr card. It’s going in the box with my Don Mattingly rookie and the Nolan Ryan autographed ball.  Farr would retire with 132 save and an ERA in the 3s. A respectable Major League career.

Zach and I still talk about that day at Arlington Stadium from time to time. Jacob and Johnny didn’t grow up baseball fans, so I wonder if they remember much about it at all. But any time I see my brother I can bust out with “Bob Boone was a man…” and he’ll shoot back the next line without hesitation.

Now that I’m a dad I can’t wait to take the kids out to the ballpark and give them a similar experience. It’s a shame I’d probably have to fight through three levels of security to get close enough to the players. Maybe I’ll have to settle for a walk around the ballpark and throwing away my paycheck on some overpriced food. In the grand scheme of things, not much has changed about the game in the last twenty-plus years, but unfortunately days like the Steve Farr game may be a thing of the past.

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Posted on May 4, 2013, in 2013, Rangers, Red Sox, Royals and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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