Chinstraps and Mouthpieces: Take me out to the ballpark in Arlington
It's like a handful of stadiums molded into one.
And it's one of the better ballparks in the country.
Ameriquest Field in Arlington, Texas, formerly known as The Ballpark in Arlington, is home to the Rangers.
It also was a destination spot on my summer vacation to the Fort Worth area.
It's been roughly 10 years since my last visit to the stadium, which was built in 1994.
The park was built during a stadium boom when many cities shelved the bland multi-purpose stadium for a more intimate baseball-only retro feel. Ameriquest's predecessor, Arlington Stadium, wasn't a multipurpose stadium, but rather a glorified minor league ballpark.
That was then, but for the last 11 years, the new stadium definitely has been the now.
Of the 30 major-league ballparks, 12 stadiums are newer than the Arlington ballpark.
I've not been to any of them, but I think Ameriquest Field could hold its own.
The manual scoreboard on the left field wall is said to resemble the scoreboard at Fenway Park, while covered double-decker bleachers are positioned in right field. And in the outfield, a grassy knoll behind the center field wall and bleachers on both sides of the grass resemble Wrigley Field. Other ballparks likely were incorporated into the ballpark as well, making it a great venue to watch baseball.
As for the game, the Rangers were losing to Tampa Bay, 4-1, heading into the sixth inning when the game suddenly turned interesting. Texas scored three runs in the bottom of the sixth, three more in the seventh and six in the bottom of the eighth for an eventual 13-5 victory.
Tampa Bay isn't exactly Boston, but it still was a treat watching Devil Rays manager Lou Piniella, a former Kansas City Royal, stroll ever so slowly out to the mound for a pitching change. Texas manager Buck Showalter, meanwhile, sprinted to and from the mound for his pitching changes.
Tampa Bay starting pitcher Casey Fossum provided some excitement as well. One of Fossum's pitches -- a called strike -- was clocked at 45 mph.
I've seen slow-pitch softballs move faster than that.
Ameriquest Field was a great place to be last week. I hope to be in the area more often in the future, especially with the Dallas Cowboys planning to build their new stadium nearby.
It's a blast watching professional games in large stadiums, but I tend to check out as many college campuses as possible when I hit the road.
Earlier Thursday, I ventured to North Texas in Denton before heading to the heart of Fort Worth and Texas Christian.
North Texas wasn't as aesthetically pleasing as TCU, but a college classmate attended UNT before coming to KU, so I picked up a souvenir for him there.
At Fouts Field, home of the North Texas' football team, workers were installing new artificial turf.
The most interesting part of the trip to UNT was a sign at the entrance to the parking garage in Denton.
"No guns," the sign read, in both English and Spanish.
That's good to know.
The next stop was TCU, home of the Horned Frogs, which is named after the Texas horned lizard. The lizard, when threatened, actually will bleed through its eyes.
Back to sports, I checked out the university's football stadium and basketball arena while on campus.
The football stadium didn't seem to have a bad seat. In addition, the stadium looked as if it could be an intimidating place on autumn Saturday afternoons, as seating is quite close to the field. Although it's not an extremely large stadium with a capacity of 46,000, it still could be an advantageous home field for the Horned Frogs.
Next door is Daniel-Meyer Coliseum, which is a round structure much like Wichita State's Koch Arena.
Although former Oklahoma coach Billy Tubbs once coached there, former KU assistant and Leavenworth native Neil Dougherty now coaches at TCU.
Also while at TCU, we visited a couple campus bookstores. As I walked into one store, wearing a Tonganoxie shirt, the clerk asked me what Tonganoxie was.
I informed him of what it was and where it is.
He then informed me he was from Prairie Village.
It's a small world, even when you're deep in the heart of Texas.