Lil Ron & the World Series

So, if you haven't opened your web browser or turned on your tv in the last week, then you might not know that my eldest son, Liam, dressed as Lil Ron Washington, the Texas Rangers' manager, for Halloween. His photo spread like wildfire on Facebook and Twitter, and before we knew it, we needed our own assistant to help us field calls for interview requests.

No, I do not have an assistant, but it sure is a nice thought.

Lo and behold, the Rangers called last Friday and invited him to the 4th game of the World Series and to say "Play ball!" in costume.

For those of you that have missed my previous posts on this whole outer body experience, they are here, here and here. (Is the phrase "outer body" or "out of body"? Words...sometimes they fail me.)

The Rangers gave us two tickets. Rick was able to buy two more, so that he and I wouldn't have to have a knock-down-drag-out over the whole issue. People often ask how we decided which little brother to take with us. One of our little boys can sit through an entire game without falling out of his chair, and the other can't. It was an easy decision.

But if Jackson had been with us, we would have the perfect Christmas card.
The Rangers requested that Liam not arrive in costume as a safety precaution.

Let me tell you that walking from our car towards the Ballpark was a surreal experience for me. I have been a Rangers fan since I was a little girl, and I can't tell you how many games I attended in my high school and college years. I have loved this team since before they were anything big, and here I was walking up to the beautiful Ballpark with a World Series ticket in my hand! And my son was getting to say "Play ball!" Yes, I had to breathe deeply to keep myself from passing out.

Liam's disguise didn't do much good. We were spotted a few times, especially after Fox 4 found us and put a camera on our tails. Actually, we were happy to give them and The Dallas Morning News each an interview while we waited.
At 4:30, we were swept away by our very own Rangers promotions rep, Cherie. She was an amazing asset to us for the next 3 hours! She put bracelets on the four of us, which told all Security personnel to let us be. And with that, we were whisked into the bowels of the Ballpark. She continually asked me if I was okay with how my son was being treated. She said, "Our number goal is to make sure you all have a safe and fun time."

First on the agenda: change Liam into Lil Wash clothing. Because the two former President Bushes were there, bathrooms and dressing rooms were at a premium, so we took Liam into the Groundskeepers' bathroom. Those guys acted as if we handed them the best Christmas gift ever when we asked to use their restroom as Lil Wash's dressing room.
They waited with their cameras and iPhones ready for Lil Wash's first appearance.
Yes, the Rangers made a #38 jersey just for him! He ended up not wearing it for the game because of the size, but I can assure you that he wore it to school the next day.

As a side note, Jack and Garrett were also given some fun gifts. Those Rangers know how to make some boys happy.

Cherie took us to the players' equipment room next. Liam enjoyed touching the bats and counting the helmets.
While we were waiting around, the players began to walk through the hall next to us. The first player we saw was David Murphy. He is very personable and now my favorite player.

The rest of the players filed by, and each one of them took one look at Liam and smiled. Some laughed. Some gave him a high five or knuckles. But each one of them welcomed my boy, and they all couldn't wait for their coach to see him.

Then, the moment we had all been waiting for! THE Ron Washington came to talk to Liam.

I'm kicking myself for not having my good camera out for this moment. My cell phone was the quickest thing I could get to. Wash was very gracious to us. He shook all of our hands, asked us our names, and then talked directly to Liam. He wanted to talk about baseball, of course.

After a few minutes, it was time for a press conference in the dugout.
Wash took Lil Ron to the bench. We were told there were 100 media present for this press conference, and Liam felt the heat. He clammed up in a big way, so Wash handled the questions for him. Liam did, however, give them the antlers and the claw.

Meanwhile, I was standing in the background trying to hold myself together. I was overcome with emotion. I couldn't believe that the Lord loves us so much that He chose us to live this big adventure! He loves us so much that He chose something so big to us, yet so trivial in the grand scheme of things, to bless our socks off with. Yes, tears flowed.

Once we saw how nervous Liam became during the press conference, we scratched the idea of him announcing the starting lineup. It would have been really cool to hear, but we needed to make sure that Liam would remain excited about his main job of saying "Play ball!" instead of becoming overwhelmed.

We were then taken back into the tunnel to wait. Everywhere we waited, Rangers' employees took pictures with Liam. Eventually, Mrs. Washington wandered over and said, "Are you my husband?" Liam gave her the deer caught in the headlights look.
Liam, Rick and Garrett were then taken into the clubhouse, where they were able to meet every single player, except for CJ Wilson. Rick said it was amazing to see these star athletes taking pictures of his son.

The players needed to get their mental game on, so we left them and went into further hiding. We were able to spend most of the time watching the Giants warm up.
When it comes to baseball, we don't get bored.
When it came time for Liam to be prepped for his announcing job, Garrett and I had to leave. Only one parent was allowed with him from that point. Liam originally said he wanted me with him, but Daddy gave me the boot, as if it wasn't a girl's job. I may never forgive my husband.

Garrett and I had a long walk to our nosebleed seats, so I had to suck it up and get movin'. The crowds in the breezeway were so tightly packed that I was afraid we wouldn't make it to our seats in time to see Liam's part. I was even more afraid I would lose Garrett in the crowd. He clung to my hand for dear life, and I prayed like crazy until a man finally reached out and parted the crowd for me to get through. I didn't even tell that man I was desperate to move, but he saw the emotion on my face. Thank you, dear man.

We made it to our seats with time to spare. Our seats were true nosebleeders, and I had to use binoculars to find my men. But I did find them in time to see Liam playing with Captain, the mascot. Once I saw him having fun, I knew he would be okay. Rick said it was awesome to see Nolan Ryan, the two former Presidents and their wives, and a big whig with MLB all waving at his son. Joey Votto, recipient of the 2010 NL Hank Aaron award, even stopped to have his picture taken with Lil Ron.

At one point, Liam seemed to be taking it all in. He asked Rick, "Daddy, can I just down reach down and touch the dirt?" He just needed to feel it to make it real.

Finally, his big moment came! I held my breath from my seat, as I watched him through the binoculars and waited to hear his voice in the Ballpark. "PLAY BALL!" He came through loud and clear to 52,000 fans, and I cheered with tears pouring down my face. It was a proud mama moment.

After Lil Wash's big job, he and Daddy were taken to meet Chuck Morgan, the big voice behind all Rangers' games. He specifically requested that Liam be brought to see him.

Once Rick and Liam were ready to find their seats, they plopped a hat on Liam's head, removed the mustache and his glasses, and put a new jersey on top of his t-shirt, all in hopes to disguise him. It didn't work. A white dad with a black boy is an automatic giveaway, especially when that particular child has been all over the internet and television for the past four days.

Finally, MLB found out where they were seated and asked if they would like to be moved to their suite. YES! He was able to call me, and all four of us were escorted to a much more comfortable seating arrangement. We had plenty of elbow room, and they fed us well. Most importantly, we were left alone to watch the game. Thank you, MLB!!

And we were ten feet away from Lyle Lovett!

Liam said, "Lyle who?" We said, "Just smile, son."

After the game, we were interviewed with Fox's post game show. Liam was asked what his favorite part of the day was. He thought about it for a few seconds and replied, "Church." The news caster giggled and repeated, "Church was your favorite part of the day?" Liam nodded.

Everyone asks me if that made me proud. Yes, it made me proud but not the way you might think. I'm proud because only God could do that kind of work in his heart. Only He could keep a 7 year-old boy grounded through several days' worth of television, newspaper, and radio interviews. Only our Father could form Liam's heart to keep Him first in spite of the biggest day of his life. But for the grace of God....

At 11:30pm, we called it a night. Lil Ron and his baby brother fell asleep within minutes of buckling up. Rick and I talked all the way home about how amazed we were at our experience. "We just went to the World Series! And met the coach! And the players!..."

No, our Rangers didn't win. And they lost the next game to end the Series with a Giants' win. But they made some amazing memories for us. And we are forever grateful.

Once the Texas Rangers' promotion office has time to sort through their photos, I will have some good ones to share. I can't wait to see what they captured on camera!


Carly A. K. said...

Wow, what an amazing night! This just proves even further that our God is all-wise and all-knowing. As much as we enjoyed watching the World Series, we could NOT have handled all the media attention and fame like your family did! I would have freaked out to have strangers calling personal phone numbers and recognizing us on the street.
Thanks for posting the full report and pictures.

Jessica Hogan said...

oh boy...story of a lifetime. i'm just shaking my head in amazement....still. you guys made everyone so proud. love you all!

The Dedwylder Family said...

I have been following your blog ( which by the way you are an excellent writer -love the humor!) and I, like many people out there received the email with "lil ron's" picture. I immediately thought it looked like liam. So I checked your blog but there wasn't anything...then I saw you on the news! What an amazing memory your precious family will be able to treasure forever!