ARLINGTON, Texas — If San Francisco's turn with the World Series was painted with earthy Bay Area tones and highlighted by black-and-orange trim, the arrival of the Fall Classic in the Lone Star State was marked with an abundance of two primary colors.
Red and blue.
Highlighted by even more red and blue.
The attendance for Saturday's Game 3 at Rangers Ballpark was announced at a stadium record 52,419 and if any of those people weren't wearing one of the aforementioned colors, they were probably rooting for the San Francisco Giants. It was quite a sight to see — the most American of sports being played before an explosion of America's colors in what is arguably the most American of states.
Of course, the crazy part is that this was Dallas-Fort Worth's first spin with baseball's crown jewel. Rangers Ballpark had never hosted a home World Series game before Saturday and the Rangers were still looking for the first Fall Classic win for a Texas team, Astros included.
Texas Rangers fans — whether diehards for decades or those borne of more recent October vintage — acquitted themselves well. The parking lots filled with tailgaters hours beforehand, t-shirts featuring claws and antlers flew off the shelves and everyone couldn't seem to stop smiling. "Y'all having a good time?" I was asked by more than one ballpark worker and the looks of their faces suggested that they sure were.
Once everyone filtered in the ballpark, the pomp and circumstance was kicked up a notch. Giant U.S. and Texas flags were unfurled on the field. A former President took his seat. Kelly Clarkson — a quintessential American celebrity created exclusively by television —sang the National Anthem and fighter jets roared overhead once she was done.
Once the game started, the crowd was loud. It roared when pitcher Colby Lewis(notes) hung two strikes on any Giants batter. It exploded like the red fireworks on the roof when Mitch Moreland(notes) and Josh Hamilton(notes) knocked Jonathan Sanchez(notes) pitches over the outfield fence. It cheered and whooped and hollered like the Series had just been clinched when Neftali Feliz(notes) recorded the final out of the game for a 4-2 victory that narrowed San Francisco's series lead to 2-1.
This was also my first-ever trip to Rangers Ballpark and I'd be lying if I said I wasn't initially hesitant about the experience. The stadium is located off the highway, next to a Six Flags amusement park and in the shadow of Jerry Jones' monument to himself. Like many of its contemporaries, it wasn't built downtown and integrated into the patterns of urban life that many purists prefer. You take one look at the place and you try to figure out how it's any different or more special than a 30- or 40-screen movieplex, just another entertainment option plopped down the street from the wax museum.
I assume it's that suburban aesthetic that keeps Rangers Ballpark out of many top 10 stadium lists, but that's also not entirely fair. It's a beautiful park that matches its population perfectly and a lot of its features — it had me at the double-decker in right field — are deserve the biggest stage imaginable.
On Saturday night, it looked its best as it and its team stood up and shined in the national spotlight. Now it'll shine for the next two nights, too.