Wednesday, October 15, 2014

How to Be a Giants Fan In Dallas

“I’m in hell!” – Morgan Freeman
“Worse: You’re in Texas!” – Chris Rock
-- Nurse Betty

This Sunday, the Giants travel to face the Dallas Cowboys, in what Texas native Molly Ivins – frequently sarcastically – called The Great State.

An example of her writing: “In the Great State, you can get 5 years for murder, and 99 for pot possession.” (I once sent the late, great newspaper columnist an e-mail asking if it could be knocked down to 98 years if you didn’t inhale. Sadly, she never responded.)

If there is one thing that fans of 31 out of the 32 NFL teams can agree on, it's that they hate the Cowboys. Or, as is said from New York to San Francisco, from Seattle to Miami, and especially in Philadelphia and Washington, "Dallas Sucks!"

Disclaimer: I have never been to the State of Texas, and thus I have no firsthand knowledge of what the ballpark is like. Nevertheless, I would like to make it easier for Yankee Fans to visit.

Before You Go. It's not just The South, it's Texas. This is the State that elected George W. Bush, Rick Perry, and Bill Clements Governor; Dick Armey, Tom DeLay, Ron Paul and Louie Gohmert to the House of Representatives; and Phil Gramm and Ted Cruz to the Senate -- and thinks the rest of the country isn't conservative enough. This is the State where, in political terms, somebody like Long Island's conservative Congressman Peter King is considered a sissy. This is a State that thinks that poor nonwhites don't matter at all, and that poor whites only matter if you can convince them that, no matter how bad their life is, they're still better than the (slur on blacks) and the (slur on Hispanics).

So if you go to Dallas for this game, it would be best to avoid political discussions. And, for crying out loud, don't mention that, now over half a century ago, a liberal Democratic President was killed in Dallas. They might say JFK had it comin' 'cause he was a (N-word)-lovin' Communist. (Some people have included Clint Murchison, father of Clint Murchison Jr., the Cowboys' original owner, in the conspiracy theories, due to JFK's interest in eliminating a tax break known as the oil-depletion allowance.)

No. I'm not kidding.  Like I said, I've never been to Texas, but I've seen enough Texans elsewhere, in actual meetings and on TV, to know that there are some of them who think like this -- and, among their own people, they will be less likely to hold back. So don't ask them what they think. About anything.

At any rate, before we go any further, enjoy Lewis Black's R-rated smackdown of Rick Perry and the State of Texas as a whole. Perry is so stupid and myopic, he makes Dubya look like Pat Moynihan.

Also within the realm of "It's not just The South, it's Texas," you should be prepared for hot weather. It's not just the heat that's so bad, it's the humidity. And the mosquitoes. You think it was only the heat that made the Houston Astros build the Astrodome? Sandy Koufax said, "Some of the bugs they've got down there are twin-engine jobs." And, unlike Houston (then as now), the Dallas-area team does not have a dome, or even a roof over the stands. It's hot, it's humid, it's muggy and it's buggy, and they have that shit all the time.

Granted this is mid-October, and AT&T Stadium has a retractable roof. Still, before you go, check the websites of the Dallas Morning News and the Fort Worth Star-Telegram (the "Startle-gram") for the weather. Right now, they're talking about it being in the high 70s at gametime, a bit warmer than it will be here. And the roof is likely to be open. Regardless of what the newspapers say, bring bugspray, and remember to keep yourself hydrated.

Texas is in the Central Time Zone, 1 hour behind New York. (The exception is the southwestern corner, including El Paso, which borders New Mexico, so it's in the Mountain Time Zone.) Adjust your timepieces accordingly.

Tickets. AT&T Stadium -- not to be confused with AT&T Park, home of the San Francisco Giants; or the AT&T Center, home of the San Antonio Spurs -- is the largest in the NFL, and, last season, the Cowboys averaged 88,043 fans per home game, the highest in the league. Officially, there are 80,000 seats, but, with standing-room, they can reach 108,713 (for the 2010 NBA All-Star Game, the largest attendance ever for a basketball game, at any level, anywhere in the world). For the stadium's opening game, against the Giants on September 21, 2009, 105,121 people crammed in, a record for a regular-season game in any of the 4 major North American sports. (You might remember Jason Tynes winning the game for the G-Men with a last-second field goal. The largest crowd ever to see an American-style football game is 112,376, for a preseason game between the Cowboys and the Houston Oilers at the Azteca Stadium in Mexico City in 1994.)

What I'm trying to say is, if you haven't already found tickets, you're not going to get them from the Cowboys' website, and you're certainly not going to walk up to the stadium 5 minutes before kickoff and say, "Gimme the best pair of seats you got left" and walk away with anything but frustration. You'll have to go to the NFL Ticket Exchange, StubHub, or (not that I would ever recommend this, especially for an away game) a scalper.

You know the old saying that everything is big in Texas? Count football ticket prices in that. The best seats available on StubHub are in the Main Level, the 200 sections, and are going for over $500. Standing room tickets are going for $41. I don't know about you, but I'm not standing for 3 hours unless they pay me at least $41.

Be warned: Those giant viewscreens hanging from the roof block some views, so that, despite being arguably the "most modern" stadium ever built, some seats at this place are obstructed-view, as if it had been built 100 years earlier. Jerry Jones had years to plan this stadium out, and he's no dummy, so for him to have allowed this to happen is inexcusable.

Getting There. It is 1,551 miles from Midtown Manhattan to downtown Dallas, and 1,564 miles from MetLife Stadium to AT&T Stadium. So unless you want to be cooped up for 24-30 hours, you... are... flying.

Nonstop flights from Newark, Kennedy or LaGuardia airports to Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport will set you back over $1,000 (round-trip). That's a bit expensive and if that’s too much, and you want to wait until the next Yankee series – and thus order tickets after your next payday, in the hopes that your flight will be cheaper – you’re out of luck, as this is the only series the Yankees will play in Texas this season. Yet another thing that Interleague play has futzed up.

So, if it’s a choice between being cooped up or spending that much dough, what is being cooped up going to be like? Amtrak offers the Lake Shore Limited (a variation on the old New York Central Railroad’s 20th Century Limited), leaving Penn Station at 3:40 PM Eastern Time and arriving at Chicago’s Union Station at 9:45 AM Central Time. Then switch to the Texas Eagle at 1:45 PM, and arrive at Dallas’ Union Station (400 S. Houston Street at Wood Street) the following morning at 11:30. It would be $792 round-trip, and that’s with sleeping in a coach seat, before buying a room with a bed on each train.

Dallas is actually Greyhound’s hometown, or at least the location of its corporate headquarters: 205 S. Lamar Street at Commerce Street, which is also the address of their Dallas station. (The city is also the corporate HQ of American Airlines.) If you look at Greyhound buses, you’ll notice they all have Texas license plates. So how bad can the bus be?

Well, it is a lot cheaper: $486 round-trip, and advanced purchase can get it down to $437. But it won’t be much shorter. It's a 40-hour trip, and you'll have to change buses at least twice, in Richmond, Virginia (and I don't like the Richmond station) and either Atlanta or Memphis.

Oh... kay. So what about driving? As I said, over 1,500 miles. I would definitely recommend bringing a friend and sharing the driving. The fastest way from New York to Dallas is to get into New Jersey, take Interstate 78 West across the State and into Pennsylvania, then turn to Interstate 81 South, across Pennsylvania, the “panhandles” of Maryland and West Virginia, and across the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia into Tennessee, where I-81 will flow into Interstate 40. Take I-40 into Arkansas, and switch to Interstate 30 in Little Rock, taking it into the Dallas-Fort Worth metropolitan area, a.k.a. “The Metroplex.” In Texas, I-30 is named the Tom Landry Freeway, after the legendary Dallas Cowboys coach. Exit 28B is used for the stadium. If you've ever seen TV footage of the team's previous home, Texas Stadium, it will look like an updated version of that.

Once you get across the Hudson River into New Jersey, you should be in New Jersey for about an hour, Pennsylvania for 3 hours, Maryland for 15 minutes, West Virginia for half an hour, Virginia for 5 and a half hours (more than the entire trip will be before you get to Virginia), 8 hours and 15 minutes in Tennessee, 3 hours in Arkansas, and about 3 hours and 45 minutes in Texas.

Taking 45-minute rest stops in or around (my recommendations) Harrisburg, Pennsylvania; Charlottesville, Virginia; Bristol, on the Virginia/Tennessee State Line; Nashville and Memphis, Tennessee; Little Rock and Texarkana, Arkansas; and accounting for overruns there and for traffic at each end of the journey, and we’re talking 31 hours. So, leaving New York at around 7:00 Eastern Time on Saturday morning, you should be able to reach the Metroplex at around 1:00 Central Time on Sunday afternoon, giving you 2 hours before kickoff.

But it would be better to leave on Friday afternoon, reach the area on Saturday night, and get a hotel. Fortunately, AT&T Stadium is in Arlington, midway between the downtowns of Dallas and Fort Worth. Well before either the Rangers or the Cowboys set up shop in Arlington, Six Flags Over Texas did so, as the original theme park in the Six Flags chain (opening in 1961), and so there are plenty of hotels available nearby. They’re also likely to be cheaper than the ones in downtown Dallas.

Once In the City. Dallas (population about 1,250,000, founded in 1856) was named after George Mifflin Dallas, a Mayor of Philadelphia and Senator from Pennsylvania who was James K. Polk's Vice President (1845-49). Fort Worth (about 800,000, founded in 1849) was named for William Jenkins Worth, a General in the War of 1812 and the Mexican-American War. And Arlington (375,000, founded in 1876) was named for the Virginia city across the Potomac River from Washington, D.C., as a tribute to Confederate General Robert E. Lee.

The population of the entire Metroplex is about 6.8 million and climbing, although when you throw in Oklahoma, southern Arkansas and northern Louisiana, the total population of the Cowboys' "market" is about 19 million -- a little less than the New York Tri-State Area, and soon it will surpass us.

Commerce Street divides Dallas street addresses into North and South. Beckley Avenue, across the Trinity River from downtown, appears to divide them into East and West. The sales tax in the State of Texas is 6.25 percent, in Dallas County 8.25 percent, and in Tarrant County (including Arlington and Fort Worth) 8 percent even.

Going In. AT&T Stadium is 19 miles west of downtown in Dallas, and 15 miles east of downtown Fort Worth, about halfway between. Arlington is in Fort Worth's Tarrant County, not Dallas County. The official address is 1 AT&T Way.

Public transportation is a relatively new idea in Texas. While Dallas has built a subway and light rail system, and it has a bus service (get a Day Pass for $5.00), until recently, Arlington was the largest city in the country with no public transportation at all.

If you got a hotel near the various Arlington attractions, you're in luck: The Arlington Entertainment District Trolley goes to the area hotels and to the stadiums and theme parks. But if your hotel is in Dallas, you'll have to take Trinity Rail Express (TRE) to Centerport Station, and then transfer to bus 221, and take that to Collins & Andrew Streets. And even then, you'd have to walk over a mile down Collins to get to the stadium. The whole thing is listed as taking an hour and 50 minutes.

But at least it's now possible to get from Dallas to a Cowboy game and back without spending $50 on taxis. So how much is it? From Union Station to Centerport, each way, is $2.50. I don't know what the zones are for the bus, but a Day Pass is $5.00, meaning that getting there and back could top out at $10, which is reasonable considering the distance involved.

There are 12,000 parking spaces on site, and another 12,000 are available at the nearby Rangers ballpark. Parking is $15, and tailgating is permitted.

Most likely, you’ll enter at the northwest corner of the stadium. The field is laid out northeast to southwest, which is usually frowned upon due to the angle of the sun. But the stadium is so large, and the roof, even when open blocks out so much of the sky that the sun is not a problem for offenses. The field is "Matrix artificial turf."

Originally named Cowboys Stadium, but nicknamed the Palace In Dallas, the Death Star, Jerry World and Jerr-assic Park, it has now hosted a Super Bowl, an NCAA Final Four, some major prizefights and concerts (including Texas native George Strait opening the stadium with Reba McIntire, and recently holding the final show of his "farewell tour" there), and, as mentioned, the 2010 NBA All-Star Game.

It hosts several special college football games: The annual Cotton Bowl Classic, the annual Cowboys Classic, the annual Arkansas-Texas A&M game, the Big 12 Championship, and, on January 12 of next year, it will host the first National Championship game in college football's playoff era.
Mexico's national soccer team has now played there 5 times -- the U.S. team, only once (a CONCACAF Gold Cup win over Honduras in 2013). Mexican clubs Club America and San Luis, and European giants Chelsea and Barcelona have also played there.
The Cowboys offer tours of this Texas-sized facility, which will make the new Yankee Stadium seem sensible by comparison.

Food. Going along with the "Everything is big in Texas" idea, you would think that the Cowboys' megastadium would have more concession stands than any stadium in the NFL, and big portions. They don't disappoint. I can't even list the cardiac-crushing stuff they serve, you'll have to click this link.

Team History Displays. At Texas Stadium, the Cowboys used to hang a Super Bowl banner at each end. Once they started winning them again in the 1990s, the 2 from the 1970s were placed at one end, and the new ones at the other. Now, the 5 are all hung together at one end. Although the Cowboys have won 8 NFC titles and 21 Divisional titles, they do not hang references to those anywhere in the open area.

Cowboy fans aren't very bright. Much like Manchester United fans (who, at least, did have some achievements before the 1992 founding of the Premier League), Cowboy fans act as though anything that happened before the Super Bowl era doesn't count. In other words, to a Cowboy fan, they've won 5 Super Bowls, while the Giants have won "only" 4. An intelligent fan who knows his history will remind them that things that happened in the NFL from 1920 to 1966 do count, and that the actual count is Giants 8, Cowboys 5. (This also boosts the Green Bay Packers past the Cowboys, going from 4 to 13, and the Chicago Bears from 1 to 9. It also makes their arch-rivals, the Washington Redskins, equal, going from 3 to 5.)

Although legendary uniform numbers such as 8, 12, 22 and 74 are not handed out anymore, the Cowboys do not officially retire numbers. Instead, they have a Ring of Honor, originally around the facing of the upper deck at Texas Stadium, now around that of the current facility. There are 17 current honorees:

* From the 1960s, but not lasting until Super Bowl VI: Quarterback Don Meredith and running back Don Perkins.

* From the Super Bowl VI team that won the 1971 NFL Championship: General Manager Tex Schramm, head coach Tom Landry, quarterback Roger Staubach, receiver Bob Hayes, offensive tackle Rayfield Wright, defensive tackle Bob Lilly, linebackers Lee Roy Jordan and Chuck Howley, and cornerback Mel Renfro.

* From the Super Bowl XII team that won the 1977 NFL Championship: Schramm, Landry, Staubach, Wright, running back Tony Dorsett, receiver Drew Pearson, defensive tackle Randy White, safety Cliff Harris.

* From the Super Bowl XXVII, XXVIII and XXX teams that won the 1992, 1993 and 1995 NFL Championships: Quarterback Troy Aikman, running back Emmitt Smith, receiver Michael Irvin, guard Larry Allen and defensive end Charles Haley. Jerry Jones, not one to go out of his way to avoid bad taste, has not yet shown taste so bad that he would induct himself. But, while he seems to have patched things up with former coach Jimmy Johnson, he hasn't inducted Jimmy, who coached the 1st 2 of those 3 titles. Nor has he inducted the coach of the 3rd, Barry Switzer.

Johnson, formerly of the University of Miami, and Switzer, of the University of Oklahoma, not only competed against each other for National Championships -- and for Statewide bragging rights, as Johnson's previous job was at Oklahoma State -- but they are also the only coaches to win both an NCAA and an NFL title. Pete Carroll would have been the 3rd with the Seattle Seahawks' title earlier this year, but his USC team had to vacate their 2 titles.

Stuff. There are souvenir stands and shops all over the place, some of them selling Western wear (actual "cowboy" clothing, including oversized Cowboy hats) with team logos in it. Some of these items may have the always-ridiculous "America's Team" slogan on them.

As you might expect from the glitziest (though not the most glorious) team in the NFL, there are DVDs galore about them. All 5 Super Bowl wins are available in a single highlight package. NFL Films' Production The Dallas Cowboys -- The Complete History is no longer all that complete, only going up to 2003, but at least (if you're a Cowboy fan) you won't have to sit through the failures and foibles of Tony Romo. There are videos about the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders (oh yes, they may have been a product of the Salacious Seventies, but they still exist), and a DVD titled Dallas Cowboys Heroes looks at such figures as Landry, Lilly, Staubach, Aikman, Smith and, yes, Romo.

NFL Films also produced Dallas Cowboys: 10 Greatest Games. It includes the original network broadcasts of all 5 Super Bowl wins, plus the NFC Championship Games from the last 3 Super Bowl seasons, the 1975 Playoff against the Minnesota Vikings featuring the Staubach to Pearson touchdown that made "Hail Mary" a football term for a desperation pass (and which Cowboy-haters still say was offensive pass interference), and a 1981 Playoff comeback against the Atlanta Falcons.

You don't usually think of Dallas having much of a literary tradition -- or of Cowboy fans being functionally literate -- but there are a few books about the Cowboys. Some praise them. But why would you want to read that kind of crap? Two new Cowboy-hater books, just published, are Jeff Stevenson's Dallas Cowboys, "America's Team" No More (note the quotation marks, as he knows they were never really that), and I Hate the Dallas Cowboys: Tales of a Scrappy New York Boyhood by Thomas R. Pryor.

During the Game. I would advise you against wearing Philadelphia Eagles, and especially Washington Redskins gear. However, while they certainly don't like New York in Texas, wearing Giant gear probably won't get you in trouble. And, this being a stadium, you're gonna get searched, and so is everyone else, so Texas' infamously lenient gun laws will be rendered useless. You're not going to get shot. Even JFK and J.R. Ewing wouldn't have gotten shot at AT&T Stadium.

The Cowboys don't have a fight song, and as far as I know there are no common chants. But you might hear fans shout out Jimmy Johnson's old line, "How 'bout them Cowboys!"
The Cowboys' mascot is Rowdy, whose cherubic face bears a striking resemblance to the mascot of burger chain Bob's Big Boy. Otherwise, he wears a Cowboys jersey and a cowboy hat with the team's star logo on it. Interestingly, he debuted during the 1996 season, and the Cowboys haven't been back to the Super Bowl since. Wilford "Crazy Ray" Jones, who began as a vendor at Cowboys games at the Cotton Bowl in 1962, became sort of an unofficial mascot, eventually getting an all-access pass to Texas Stadium, before diabetes claimed him in 2007.
In all that time, he missed only 3 home games, and he became probably the most popular person associated with the team: While even Tom Landry and Roger Staubach had people who hated them, everybody liked Crazy Ray. Zema Williams, the unofficial mascot of the Redskins known as Chief Zee, actually missed his team's 2007 home opener to go to Dallas to pay tribute to his friendly rival, escorting his wife out to midfield for a standing ovation. (His absence as the Redskins' opener, along with his own health issues and the news of Crazy Ray's death, led many Washington fans to be concerned that he had died, too.
After the Game. Dallas has a bit of a bad reputation when it comes to crime, but you’ll be pretty far from it. Not only is the stadium not in a bad neighborhood, it’s one of those stadiums that’s not in any neighborhood. As long as you don’t make any snide remarks about the Cowboys or any liberal political pronouncements, safety will not be an issue.

The only bars I could find that have been mentioned as catering to New Yorkers are the Cape Buffalo Grille, at 17727 Addison Road in Addison, north of Dallas, 28 miles northeast of AT&T Stadium; and Humperdinks, at 6050 Greenville Avenue in north Dallas. That’s far from your base, even if your hotel is in downtown Dallas, but the former is an established home for fans of the football Giants, described by one as “a lifesaver for people from New York and New Jersey”; the latter seems to be the local home of Jet fans.

Sidelights. Despite their new rapid-rail system, Dallas is almost entirely a car-friendly, everything-else-unfriendly city. Actually, it’s not that friendly at all. It’s a city for oil companies, for banks, for insurance companies, things normal Americans tend to hate. As one Houston native once put it, “Dallas is not in Texas.” In fact, most Texans, especially people from Fort Worth (and, to a slightly lesser extent, those from Houston) seem to think of Dallas the way the rest of America thinks of New York: They hate it, and they think that it represents all that is bad about their homeland. Until, that is, they need a win. Or money.

Don’t bother looking for the former home of the Cowboys, Texas Stadium, because "the Hole Bowl" was demolished in 2010. If you must, the address was 2401 E. Airport Freeway, in Irving. The Cowboys reached 7 Super Bowls, winning 5, while playing there, made their Thanksgiving Day home game an annual classic, and became "America's Team" there. So many games were broadcast from there that some people joked that CBS stood for Cowboys Broadcasting Service. SMU played some home games there, and the U.S. soccer team played there once, a 1991 loss to Costa Rica.

The Cowboys’ first home, from 1960 to 1970, was the Cotton Bowl, which also hosted the Cotton Bowl game from 1937 to 2009, after which it was moved to AT&T Stadium. It also hosted some (but not all) home games of Southern Methodist University between 1932 and 2000, some games of soccer’s 1994 World Cup, and 7 U.S. soccer games, most recently a draw to Mexico in 2004.

But it’s old, opening in 1930, and the only thing that’s still held there is the annual “Red River Rivalry” game between the Universities of Texas and Oklahoma, every 1st Saturday in October, and that’s only because that’s the weekend when the Texas State Fair is held, as the stadium is in Fair Park. (Just look for the statue of "Big Tex" -- you can't miss him.) While it doesn’t seem fair that Oklahoma’s visit to play Texas should be called a “neutral site” if it’s in the State of Texas, the fact remains that each school gets half the tickets, and it’s actually slightly closer to OU’s campus in Norman, 191 miles, than it is from UT’s in Austin, 197 miles. The address is 3750 The Midway.

Next-door is the African-American Museum of Dallas. 1300 Robert B. Cullum Blvd., in the Fair Park section of south Dallas. Bus 012 or 026, or Green Line light rail to Fair Park station. Be advised that this is generally considered to be a high-crime area of Dallas.

Globe Life Ballpark (formerly known as The Ballpark In Arlington, AmeriQuest Field and Rangers Ballpark) is at 1000 Ballpark Way, off Exit 29 on the Landry Freeway. It sits right between Six Flags and the new Cowboys Stadium (now named AT&T Stadium). The 2 stadiums are 7/10ths of a mile apart. You could walk between them, if you don't mind losing 5 pounds of water weight int he Texas heat.

Across Legends Way from the ballpark is a parking lot where the original home of the Rangers, Arlington Stadium, stood from 1965 to 1993. It was a minor-league park called Turnpike Stadium before the announcement of the move of the team led to its expansion for the 1972 season.

The NBA’s Dallas Mavericks and the NHL’s Dallas Stars play at the American Airlines Center, or the AAC. Not to be confused with the American Airlines Arena in Miami (which was really confusing when the Mavs played the Heat in the 2006 and 2011 NBA Finals), it looks like a cross between a rodeo barn and an airplane hangar. 2500 Victory Avenue in the Victory Park neighborhood, north of downtown. Bus 052 or Green Line to Victory station.

Before the AAC opened in 2001, both teams played at the Reunion Arena. This building hosted the 1984 Republican Convention, where Ronald Reagan was nominated for a 2nd term as President. To New York Tri-State Area fans, it is probably best remembered as the place where Jason Arnott’s double-overtime goal won Game 6 and gave the New Jersey Devils the 2000 Stanley Cup over the defending Champion Stars. The 1986 NCAA Final Four, won by Louisville over Duke, was held there. It was demolished in November 2009, 5 months before Texas Stadium was imploded. The arena didn’t even get to celebrate a 30th Anniversary. 777 Sports Street at Houston Viaduct, downtown, a 10-minute walk from Union Station.

The Major League Soccer club FC Dallas (formerly the Dallas Burn) play at Toyota Stadium, at 9200 World Cup Way in the suburb of Frisco. It’s 28 miles up the Dallas North Tollway from downtown, so forget about any way of getting there except driving. The U.S. soccer team has played there twice, both against Guatemala, a win and a loss.

Before there was the Texas Rangers, and before the Dallas-Fort Worth Spurs minor league team that opened Turnpike/Arlington Stadium in 1965, there were the Dallas team alternately called the Steers, the Rebels, the Eagles and the Rangers; and the Fort Worth Cats. Dallas won Texas League (Double-A) Pennants in 1926, 1929, 1941, 1946 and 1953. They played at Burnett Field, which opened in 1924, and was abandoned after the Dallas Rangers and the Fort Worth Cats merged to become the Spurs in 1965. Currently, it's a vacant lot. 1500 E. Jefferson Blvd. at Colorado Blvd. Bus 011.

The Cats won TL Pennants in 1895, 1905, 1906, 1920, 1921, 1922, 1923, 1924, 1925, 1930, 1937, 1939 and 1948. Those 6 straight Pennants in the Twenties became a pipeline of stars for the St. Louis Cardinals, and the 1930 Pennant featured Dizzy Dean and a few other future members of the Cards' 1930s "Gashouse Gang."

The Cats played at LaGrave Field, the first version of which opened in 1900, and was replaced in 1926, again after a fire in 1949, and one more time in 2002, as a new Fort Worth Cats team began play in an independent league. 301 NE 6th Street. Trinity Railway Express to Fort Worth Intermodal Transit Center, then Number 1 bus.

One more baseball-themed place in Texas that might interest a Yankee Fan: Due to his cancer treatments and liver transplant, Mickey Mantle, who lived in Dallas during the off-seasons and after his baseball career, spent the end of his life at the Baylor University Medical Center. 3501 Junius Street at Gaston Avenue. Bus 019.
Merlyn Mantle died in 2009, and while it can be presumed that Mickey's surviving sons, Danny and David, inherited his memorabilia, I don't know what happened to their house, which (I've been led to believe) was in a gated community and probably not accessible to the public anyway; so even if I could find the address, I wouldn't list it here. (For all I know, one or both sons may live there, and I've heard that one of them -- Danny, I think -- is a Tea Party flake, and even if he wasn't, the family shouldn't be disturbed just because you're a Yankee Fan and their father was one of the Yankees.)
If you truly wish to pay your respects to this baseball legend: Mickey, Merlyn, and their sons Mickey Jr. and Billy are laid to rest at Sparkman-Hillcrest Memorial Park Cemetery. Also buried there are Tom Landry, tennis star Maureen Connolly, oil baron H.L. Hunt, Senator John Tower, Governor and Senator W. Lee "Pappy" O'Daniel, bluesman Freddie King, actress Greer Garson and Mary Kay Cosmetics founder Mary Kay Ash. 7405 West Northwest Highway at Durham Street. Red Line to Park Lane station, then 428 Bus to the cemetery.

If there’s 2 non-sports things the average American knows about Dallas, it’s that the city is where U.S. President John F. Kennedy was assassinated on November 22, 1963, and where Ewing Oil President J.R. Ewing was shot on March 21, 1980. Elm, Main and Commerce Streets merge to go over railroad tracks near Union Station, and then go under Interstate 35E, the Stemmons Freeway – that’s the “triple underpass” so often mentioned in accounts of the JFK assassination.

The former Texas School Book Depository, now named The Sixth Floor Museum at Dealey Plaza, is at the northwest corner of Elm & Houston Streets, while the “grassy knoll” is to the north of Elm, and the west of the Depository. Like Ford’s Theater, where Abraham Lincoln was assassinated in 1865, and the area surrounding it in Washington, the area around Dealey Plaza is, structurally speaking, all but unchanged from the time the President in question was gunned down, an oddity in Dallas, where newer construction always seems to be happening.

John Fitzgerald Kennedy was shot in Dallas and died, while John Ross Ewing Jr. was shot in Dallas and lived. Where’s the justice in that? J.R. was shot in his office at Ewing Oil’s headquarters, which, in the memorable opening sequence of Dallas, was in the real-life Renaissance Tower, at 1201 Elm Street, Dallas’ tallest building from 1974 to 1985, and in real life is the HQ for Neiman Marcus. Bank of America Plaza, on Elm at Griffith Street, is now the tallest building in Dallas, at 921 feet, although not the tallest in Texas (there’s 2 in Houston that are taller).

The real Southfork Ranch is at 3700 Hogge Drive (that’s pronounced “Hoag”) in Parker, 28 miles northeast of the city. (Again, you’ll need a car.) It’s not nearly as old as the Ewing family’s fictional history would suggest: It was built in 1970. It’s now a conference center, and like the replica of the Ponderosa Ranch that Lorne Greene had built to look like his TV home on Bonanza, it is designed to resemble the Ewing family home as seen on both the original 1978-91 series and the 2012-present revival. It is open to tours, for an admission fee of $9.50.
Dallas values bigness, but unless you count Southfork and Dealey Plaza, it isn't big on museums. The best known is the Dallas Museum of Art, downtown at 1717 N. Harwood Street at Flora Street. Nearby is the Perot Museum of Nature and Science, named for ol' H. Ross himself, at 2201 N. Field Street at Broom Street.
The Dallas area is also home to 2 major football-playing colleges: Southern Methodist University in north Dallas, which, as alma mater of Laura Bush, was chosen as the site of the George W. Bush Presidential Library (now open); and Texas Christian University in Fort Worth. The Bush Library is at 2943 SMU Blvd. & North Central Expressway, a 5-minute walk from Ownby Stadium, Moody Coliseum, and the university bookstore, which, like so many university bookstores, is a Barnes & Noble (not named for Dallas character Cliff Barnes). Blue or Red Line to Mockingbird Station.

SMU has produced players like Doak Walker, Forrest Gregg, Dandy Don Meredith, and the “Pony Express” backfield of Eric Dickerson and Craig James (both now TV-network studio analysts), while TCU has produced Slingin’ Sammy Baugh, Jim Swink and Bob Lilly. Both schools have had their highs and their lows, and following their 1987 “death penalty” (for committing recruiting violations while already on probation), and their return to play in 1989 under Gregg as coach, SMU are now what college basketball fans would call a “mid-major” school. Ironically, TCU, normally the less lucky of the schools, seriously challenged for the 2009 and 2010 National Championships, but their own “mid-major” schedule doomed them in that regard. TCU's Among G. Carter Stadium hosted the U.S. soccer team's 1988 loss to Ecuador.


Texas is a weird place, and the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex is no exception. But it’s a pretty good area for sports, and it even seems to have finally embraced baseball as something more than something to do between football seasons.
If you can afford it, go, and help your fellow Giants fans make the Cowboys feel like they’re in the Meadowlands. But remember to avoid using the oft-heard phrase “Dallas Sucks.” In this case, keep the truth to yourself!

1 comment:

Thomas Pryor said...

Uncle Mike, thank you, for the shout out, "Go Jints!", best, Tommy Pryor