Big men, big houses

For one sports star, home is where the bowling alley is

About a year and a half ago, while I was sitting in a doctor's office with a tube in my ear, trying to figure out why I always almost black out in the second loop of the Shock Wave roller-coaster at Six Flags, the specialist began telling me how how he lives in the same North Arlington neighborhood as a bunch of the Texas Rangers.

He recalled the day during a bowl game party when an infielder who had come over was a little tipsy and fell, gashing his wrist. The doc hadn't done stitches since Elvis was skinny, but, geez, the guys reckoned, they couldn't let a Rangers doctor know he'd hurt himself drinking, even if he wasn't plowed.

Wound closed. End of story.
Such is the life in a pro athlete's neighborhood. You get to borrow cooking oil and coffee creamer and an egg from some of the best-known folks in America. Just like they were any neighbor with a $4.99 welcome mat from MJDesigns.

But they are not like any other neighbors--because chances are, if the jock had it custom-built, you are now living next to one really big-assed house. And you can thank a sports agent that your $450,000 dream home now looks like an unskirted double-wide next to that thing next door.

No one can tell us just how many athletes live in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, but there are plenty. Some returned after growing up here. A number of baseball players settled in Arlington after their playing years; others got their starter homes in a little brick baseball covey out by Wet'n Wild and have since moved to the custom-built pastures of Colleyville and Flower Mound.

Rafael Palmiero and his wife, for example, were working on their place in Colleyville during the strike. Pete Incaviglia is out there too, and has even opened a Colleyville restaurant. Former Maverick Derek Harper, now with the Knicks, has a large and pretty, but unostentatious, place way out north of the Dallas Galleria.

Arlington real estate agent Jamie Adams, who handles a lot of deals for ballplayers, marketed good friend Julio Franco's colossal north Arlington property--the one with the basketball court, weight room and the rottweiler spit outside the back window--by advertising: "Julio's going to Japan. House for sale."

Pastoral hamlets such as Roanoke and Keller have become enclaves of country-boy jocks with a hankerin' for mini-ranches--including Troy Aikman and Terry Bradshaw. Randy White is in Prosper. Bill Bates and Walt Garrison ranch out toward McKinney.

Now DeSoto, once a country town, is attracting name athletes seeking wide-open spaces for their huge houses. Several grew up here and first became famous at area high schools.

The most gargantuan of the new houses is that of Oakland Raiders receiver Tim Brown, a Heisman Trophy winner at Notre Dame who attended Dallas' Woodrow Wilson High School and has returned to the area. Brown is building something on Pleasant Run Road that rivals, in size, the home of any athlete anywhere.

It's in an early stage of construction, and if you pass by, you can't miss it. It's the castle with dozens of tall windows wrapped in enough plywood to cover Texas Stadium--and a long, long wing that juts out to the north and suggests a cold fusion reactor. In fact, it is a bowling alley taking shape. "I think Tim has two lanes," says DeSoto city building inspector David Jackson, who gets a look-see at all the structures going up in his town.

Word about the house has spread quickly in DeSoto. Everyone from the Dairy Queen to the Winn Dixie knows Tim won't have to go to the Triangle Bowl down on Hampton anymore. And heck, maybe he'll invite 'em over for a few frames.

Brown's house is empty, though Aeroflot could be using it for cargo jet storage. It's got 15,100 square feet of living area--19,000 total, if you include the bowling area and the racquetball court.

In the evening, you see cars pull way onto the lot, just behind the "No Trespassing" sign protecting the dwelling-to-be, and people looking, just looking, at that big house in the small town, says Jackson, that has made a priority out of attracting "development which will have a positive rather than a negative psychological impact on the city."

The nearest neighbors to Brown's palace, which boasts a Gothic facade and a two-story covered drive-through portal, won't be bothered by the sounds of flying pins. The bowling-alley house sits on a 295-by-720-foot lot that puts them far away.

Nonetheless, DeSoto building inspector Jackson says his town already has one to rival it. "Well, we may have [a home] more unique than Tim's, but it belongs to a televangelist who lives out here. It has a pool going from the master suite to the outside."

(For bedroom-access baptisms, we assume.)
In papers filed with the city of DeSoto, Tim's house-in-progress is valued at $1.8 million.

"This is a nice city," said Jackson, trying to explain the phenomenon. "Our tax rate is comparable to others in the area. Our real estate is probably actually cheaper. My guess would be that other places are filling up. We don't have a lot of undesirable properties here. You won't see a lot of apartment complexes, and the ones we have are well-hidden."

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