A bush league of their own

Long before the Texas Rangers, major-league baseball was played in Dallas by a minor-league team called the Dallas Eagles

"I've always wondered what would have happened if Burnett had lived," Merle Heryford says. "He was trying to figure out how he could do something like that before he died. He may not have had the money, but he knew enough people that he could have swung it. I've always thought so."

The Dallas Eagles no longer existed by 1959. The Burnett family sold the team to local businessman J.W. Bateson in 1958, who moved the team from the Double-A Texas League to the Triple-A American Association--where, appropriately enough, the team was renamed the Dallas Rangers. In 1960, the Rangers merged with the Fort Worth Cats to become the Dallas-Fort Worth Spurs, which lasted in the American Association until 1962. The Spurs ended up in the Pacific Coast league until 1965, at which point they came back to the Texas League and their new home in Arlington, a 10,000-seat park known as Turnpike Stadium.

In 1971, Joe Macko was named general manager of the Dallas-Fort Worth Spurs.
The very next year, Turnpike Stadium was renovated and renamed in honor of its new occupants, the Texas Rangers.

Macko still works for those Rangers, 51 years after he got his first job playing pro ball. He was the team's business manager for one year, then became Rangers' equipment manager and home clubhouse manager. Four years ago, he was given the title of visiting clubhouse manager, which means that every night the Rangers are in town, Macko makes sure the out-of-town team's clubhouse is filled with everything they need, from food to tickets. He's the guy who makes millionaire ballplayers happy.

And every now and then, the New York Yankees will come to town, and sometimes, Macko will find slugging third baseman Chuck Knoblauch and talk with the kid about his Uncle Eddie and the good old days when they were teammates on the Dallas Eagles.

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