By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
Sometimes — more often than he'd like, and even though he knows it's not healthy, that it won't change anything — Sean Bass thinks of all the different routes he could've taken to the store.
It was a warm Friday night in late September. Sean had just mowed the lawn. His girlfriend, Heather, was at his house in Garland, cuddling his dog Clementine and waiting on the first pitch of the Rangers-Mariners game. First, though, the Yankees were playing the A's. Oakland made a pitching change, and the whole thing was taking forever. A commercial came on.
"Let's go," Sean told Heather.
Sometimes he thinks about that, too. They could've just sat through the damn commercials.
They left Sean's place and headed to Tom Thumb for groceries. They hopped into his silver Nissan Altima, and he picked one of the three routes at random: a left on Kingsley Road, a right on First Street and another right down West Centerville Road, three busy lanes on each side, bordered with gas stations, strip malls, used-car lots. They'd be back in no time.
Sean Bass is 30 years old, with slightly thinning reddish-brown hair, stubble, and a booming, personable, radio-volume voice. All his life, he's been a Ticket Guy. Before he started working for the massively popular sports radio station at age 19, he was a diehard listener — a "P1," as they're known on-air, an old-timey radio reference that means, depending on whom you ask, "Priority One" or "Preset One." As a young kid, his dad used to let him stay up late to listen on Saturday nights, a time slot Sean ("Seabass" to the P1s) now hosts.
In addition to being his livelihood, the Ticket also brought Sean and Heather together. He's prolific on Twitter, with 12,000 or so followers who check in to banter with him about the Mavs and the Rangers (he hosts the Ticket's post-game shows on both teams), and to argue with him about whether soccer deserves more coverage on the station (that's just one guy, actually).
Heather VanHoozer was active on Twitter, too, using a handle that involved the words "Sports Gal." She was born in Garland; March 31 would have been her 25th birthday. Her closest friend, Stacy Tekstar, describes her as "a fashion queen," with long brown hair, stylish black-and-white framed glasses, and a knack for giving great advice.
"Heather never intentionally had an enemy," Stacy says. "She was kind to anyone she met. She believed in giving a chance to anybody, and even a second chance."
Heather's mother, Debra, says her daughter was that way from the start: an outgoing, chatty, loving child who grew into a woman with an equal passion for sports and taking care of other people. In grade school, she ice-skated and played soccer, then took a spot on the drill team in high school. Six years ago, her father, Alan, started taking her bass fishing, something she took to as easily as she did every other sport. When she wasn't playing them she was watching them, enthusiastically and year-round.
"The other thing that Heather emasculated men with, other than her fishing skills, was her knowledge of sports," her longtime friend, Andy Foster, says with a laugh.
Heather loved the Stars, Mavericks and Rangers. Per recent tradition, she dutifully supported the Cowboys without caring much for Jerry Jones. When they weren't shopping or dissecting each other's potential suitors, Heather and Stacy hopped from football games to basketball games and occasionally over to the horse races, where Heather showed Stacy how to bet.
"She had probably five or six jerseys from any team," Andy says. No matter the sport, he adds, "She could tell you who scored and what their stats were and this and that."
Her head for stats was part of Heather's affinity for science and math; last fall she was accepted into the nursing program at Texas Woman's University, after a few years at community college. She wasn't sure yet what her specialty would be, though she leaned toward surgery or pediatrics. "She pretty much just wanted to take care of people," her mother says.
"She was very nurturing," Sean adds. "She'd have made a great nurse."
It was a little more than a year ago that Heather, a second-generation P1 herself, started tweeting at Sean about sports. That quickly graduated into e-flirting, and the two eventually went for beers in downtown Plano. They took things slowly for a while. Sean had broken off an engagement earlier that year, and Heather was still living at home with her parents, focusing on school. But she fell hard, Stacy says. When she and Sean went to South Padre over the summer to meet his mom, it was the first time she'd ever gone away with a guy. Soon they were inseparable.
"I told her, he was right for her," Stacy says. "He was kinda what we imagined for her: a sports guy, outdoorsy, loved to have a good time. Very social, like she was." Through his job, Sean got Heather and Stacy box seats to a Mavericks game last season. "We were on cloud nine that night," Stacy says, laughing. "We were both flipping out."