ARLINGTON — Elvis Andrus wasn’t going to sit out the season finale of the long-eliminated Texas Rangers, not even on a scorching afternoon that illustrated why Globe Life Park is getting replaced after just 26 seasons.
“I know it’s super hot, but it’s a lot of memories throughout the game,” Andrus said of the park where he debuted as a 20-year-old a decade ago and played in the club’s only two World Series in 2010 and ‘11.
On the seventh day of the fall, the temperature reached the mid-90s for a sellout crowd that included former President George W. Bush, who was the managing partner of the club when the ballpark opened in 1994.
After a 6-1 victory over the New York Yankees, a parade long enough to make a ring around the field took home plate across the street to Globe Life Field. The retractable-roof stadium, which officially opens with a March 31 game against the Los Angeles Angels, will have the option of air conditioning once the Texas heat kicks in next spring and summer.
Greer was among 15 former Rangers introduced as part of the all-time Globe Life Park team. Hall of Fame catcher Pudge Rodriquez also made the finale, as did Adrian Beltre, a little more than two years after getting his 3,000th hit in the park he called home for his final eight seasons.
The former Rangers hopped in pickups for the short ride across the street along with hundreds of fans headed by a police escort and a firetruck.
The crowd of 44,144 — bringing the park’s final total to 66,744,029 — went wild when strikeout king Nolan Ryan emerged from the dugout to throw out the ceremonial first pitch to Kenny Rogers, who threw Globe Life’s only perfect game in its debut season.
The fans didn’t seem to care that Ryan, who had the last two of his record seven no-hitters with the Rangers, bounced the pitch. They were just happy to see the tall Texan six years after he resigned as team president — he later became a consultant for rival Houston.
“It’s definitely sad,” said Will Clark, who hit the first regular-season homer by a Ranger at the new park. “When you played in the first game, 25 years for the most part is a fairly young ballpark. To see it go, yeah, it’s pretty emotional.”
Same for the fans, including a woman who was among those who stayed in their seats long after the parade had wound out of the stadium. She was seen crying on television, with her husband’s arm draped over her shoulder.
Those emotions weren’t saved for the last day. Shirley Kost, who has been going to games since moving to the Dallas area 40 years ago, said she and her friends were crying the day before they said goodbye to Globe Life — and she said they probably would be again Sunday.
What the 80-year-old Kost will miss the most is what so many others say is their favorite thing about the park: the curb appeal. The granite and red brick facade, lined with high-arched openings for a view of the concourse and steel support beams, has always been a favorite.
“I wish we could take it with us,” Kost said. “But we’re going to love the new one, too. It’s just going to take a little time.”