Shortly after the twentieth birthday of the Rangers’ Ballpark, it was announced that the man behind its construction would be inducted into the team Hall of Fame.
Tom Schieffer served as the team’s president from 1991-99 and was instrumental in the building of the ballpark and its opening in 1994.
“Building this ballpark was really the joy of my life,” he said Tuesday. “It was a pleasure because of the creativity of the people involved.”
Schieffer and his team of executives traveled the country and collected information from fans about different ballparks, and meshed those concepts to bring a beautiful ballpark to North Texas.
Rangers television broadcaster Tom Grieve, who introduced Schieffer Tuesday in the media room at Globe Life Park, described the former team president as "relentless" in the development of the stadium. It became a labor love, Grieve said.
Schieffer said he was surprised to be receiving the Hall of Fame recognition, which can be given to members of the organization who contributed in a “non-playing capacity” in even-numbered year. Remaining humble while being exalted as one of the most influential executives in team history, Schieffer described his line of work in simple terms.
“I always thought the definition of a good job was when you got paid to watch a baseball game, and I thought I had a really good job,” he said.
“When you’re in a position like I was with this franchise you come to realize that baseball is just a blessing. It’s a blessing to so many people because it gives them something to look forward to every single day of the year.”
In addition to his tenure in professional baseball that also includes time overseeing the Los Angeles Dodgers, Schieffer served as the United States Ambassador to Australia from 2001-05 and to Japan from 2005-09. He is the Founder and President of Envoy International LLC, a consulting firm that provides a wide range of services to international companies, including Major League Baseball. But he still considers what is now Globe Life Park his crowning achievement.
“I’ve done a lot of different things over the years,” he said. “But as far as just a pure sense of joy, building this ballpark was the thing that has given me the most pleasure in my life.”
The younger brother of Face the Nation host Bob Schieffer, Tom said he spoke with his brother about how many people came up to him and told him about going to their first major league baseball game. He said he hopes his ballpark has facilitated a great first-game experience for fans over the last 20 years.
“I love coming to the games early and watching people coming in to the stadium, watching them enjoy the stadium,” he said.
Twenty years after the park’s inception, Schieffer still has a vision of growth. When his team of people built the park, they built it with the hopes of a city growing up around it.
“That hasn’t happened yet, but it still can happen because the Rangers have the ability to develop the land around the ballpark,” he said. “I hope it does happen.”
Schieffer’s enshrinement in the Rangers Hall of Fame allowed him the opportunity to reflect on some of his favorite memories from his time as the club’s president. He cited a moment when Pudge Rodriguez - a player he said he had a special relationship with - changed the life of a child with Muscular Dystrophy.
Matt Swinton, who has the muscle disease and uses a wheelchair, had told Schieffer that Pudge was his favorite player. Schieffer set up a meeting for the two, in which Rodriguez told the boy to kiss his game bat for good luck.
After knocking one out of the park on the next pitch and rounding the bases, Rodriguez ran over and gave Swinton a big hug before returning to the dugout for congratulations from his teammates.
“Now that’s baseball,” he said. “That’s one of those magic moments you get to enjoy when you’re in a position like I was.”
Schieffer is the 17th member selected to join the Rangers Hall of Fame. He is accompanied in the “non-playing capacity” group by Johnny Oates (2003), Tom Vandergriff (2004), Mark Holtz (2005), Tom Grieve (2010), and Eric Nadel (2012).
His official induction will take place in a pre-game ceremony on August 23, when he will return to the stadium he helped create, and the stadium in which he never gave up his season tickets.
“It’s the best place on earth,” Schieffer said. “There’s nothing like a ballpark.”