A bittersweet season for one special Rangers fan

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by JIM DOUGLAS

Bio | Email | Follow: @wfaajdouglas

WFAA

Posted on October 12, 2011 at 10:19 PM

Updated Tuesday, Nov 26 at 2:51 AM

There is a bittersweet side to the Texas Rangers' dramatic run in the playoffs.

Two former nuns who've been in the stands since the Rangers came to Texas can no longer share that experience; Alzheimer's disease has made it impossible.

Sister Frances Evans, 85, misses her friend. Sister Frances can still go to the games... a tiny woman stepping gently towards her familiar prime seat behind home plate.

She's been a season ticket holder since the 1970s. Frances lives for games, banging loudly on her drum to rev up the crowd.

But it's not the same anymore. Not without Sister Maggie Hession in the seat beside her.

"I do miss her," said Sister Frances. "We've been with the Rangers since 1972, the two of us."

They went to fantasy baseball camp, where Frances broke a finger on an inside pitch.

They went to Yankee Stadium, where they were photographed in the dugout with Rangers players.

So many memories;  but only Frances can replay them now. Alzheimer's disease throws curves no one can hit.

"Maggie doesn't have the memories we've shared all these years. God knows we have enjoyed life," said Sister Frances. "We've been friends since 1954."

Friends. Roommates. Part of baseball history.

"Maggie and I were the first two through the turnstiles at the Ballpark," she said.

Now Frances guides Maggie through the halls of an assisted living center.

Holding her arm. Counting off steps.

Maggie's homey apartment at the center brims with all things Rangers, from the bedspread to the bathroom. And despite the separation brought by Alzheimer's, Sister Frances still finds endless reasons to smile.

It's magic when Maggie smiles back.

"If you don't go forward you go backward, and you get nowhere. God doesn't want you to do that," Francis said, sitting close to Maggie's chair. "It's hard. I wish she was there, but she isn't."

Frances did take her dear friend to one playoff game, but the noise and crowd overwhelmed her. She realized their nights in the stands together are now over.

But just try to keep Frances away.

Ask her if she'll be there if the Rangers make it to the World Series again. "Honey," she laughs, "Is the pope Catholic?"

Frances witnessed Monday's walk-off grand slam, then celebrated with a cold beer.

And no matter what happens this season, she'll be back next season. Frances will be without her teammate, but they're still one team.

"Our lives have been very, very blessed, and we've been very happy," she said with a smile, adding:  "But Heaven is even better."

Sister Frances will be happy to go. But until then, look for her at the game.

Follow the beat of the drum to a place Sister Frances still calls "Heaven on Earth."

E-mail jdouglas@wfaa.com

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