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Nice to see the reigning American League champs haven't forgotten about those Texas Rangers associated with all those seasons in hell -- chief among them Jeff Burroughs, the top draft pick in '69 (for the Washington Senators) and my first boyhood ball-playing hero. Burroughs, who came to Arlington with the Senators, was the A.L. Most Valuable Player Award in '74 -- only to become a journeyman, finishing out his career with stints in Atlanta, Oakland, Seattle and Toronto. But he comes home Friday, to toss out one of two ceremonial pitches on Opening Day against the Boston Red Sox at the Ballpark in Arlington.
Joining him will be Charlie Hough, the knuckleballer and chain-smoker whose 25-year career was highlighted by a decade-long stint with Texas following his days as a Dodger, during which he won 139 games -- and threw 98 complete games.
In a press release sent out by Rangers Executive Vice President of Communications John Blake, club president Nolan Ryan said it was important to kick off the 2011 season by acknowledging them who'd come before: "As we recognize the Rangers' 40th season in Texas, we felt that the first pitch ceremony should reflect the history of the club. Jeff Burroughs was the first great offensive star for the Rangers in the 1970s, and Charlie Hough was the club's ace throughout the 1980s. It is a very appropriate that they take part in the opening day activities."