Film and TV

This Year's Dallas Video Festival to Pay Tribute to Chuck Morgan. About Damned Time.

During its 22 years of existence, the Dallas Video Festival has paid tribute to a great many pioneers and visionaries, among them Monty Python's Terry Gilliam, Robert Smigel, Paul Reubens, Martin Mull, Mike Judge, Mystery Science Theater 3000's Joel Hodgson and Slam Bang Theater creator Bill Camfield. To that list, add another great: Chuck Morgan, otherwise known as The Voice of the Texas Rangers.

"He's the auteur of stadium video," DVF founder Bart Weiss tells Unfair Park. "What other stadium do you know of where you know the guy running the video?"

Morgan, whose official title is vice president of in-park entertainment, tells Unfair Park this morning he had no idea that

his event, scheduled for 7 p.m. November 2 at the Angelika Film Center, was a tribute. He just thought he was comin' over to show some old clips from Arlington Stadium and the Ballpark, talk about birthing the dot race and whatever else he could think of to fill 90 minutes.

"I didn't know I was kind of the center of attention, but it's really great," says Morgan. "I just thought I was part of the program. Then I read more about it, and I was like, 'That's awesome.'"

After the jump, a Q&A with Morgan. Me, I could talk to that man all day. Hard to keep it brief.

So what are you bringing to the Angelika next week?

I'm bringing some old dot races; I've got some old wedding proposals. We were probably one of the first places to start abusing the wedding proposal thing.


It's gotten out of hand. But people don't realize it provides income for foundations, and you get thousands of calls from people who want to do 'em. But I'm also bringing a clip that George Michael had as one of the great moments of 2000. I was watching TV, and he showed a clip from a fake wedding proposal we did out at the Ballpark. I have to admit: I got that idea from listening to The Ticket. Greg Williams said, 'I want to see one where a girl rejects a guy.' So we had some interns film a bit where he asked her to marry him, and she threw Coke at him and walked off. They did a great job, and George Michael had it on his Top 10 list of sports moments from 2000. So I'll have little stuff like that. And some musical pieces.

Bart says you're the only announcer he can think of whose name fans know when they go to a major-league ballpark. Can you think of another?

Well, I don't know. I don't know if people know in L.A. who came up with the Rally Monkey. I know the guy, but I don't know if people do. But, see, I came from a semi-celebrity background as a hillbilly disc jockey in Nashville, then I did some TV here, I've been on Hee-Haw. It's because of this ... personality maybe, and because I do the P.A. and the scoreboard. And I do a lot of speaking around the area, and I do some of the Rangers' TV spots. So it all adds up.

Hence, your being feted by the Video Fest, your name alongside Pee-Wee Herman's.

Well, I don't know if I rate like that, but it's a real honor. It's just a real honor. It's unbelievable.

When did you do your first video piece for the Rangers? And when did you realize, hey, this is something that just might work?

We were the second club to add a video board. This was in the winter of '83. We followed the Dodgers, who put one in in 1980 for the All-Star Game. We did this wraparound scoreboard in the old Arlington Stadium. It was one of the biggest in the world, and with my having a radio-television background, management said, "You're doing the video board stuff." And they sent me to Dodgers Stadium to see what they were doing.

But in Arlington, the first piece was just running an old clip of The Lone Ranger during a rally situation. People responded to it -- and it was nothing but the introduction to The Lone Ranger. That year we did also some blooper pieces, and I said, "You know, this thing's going to work." It was pioneering in that we were putting music to funny things that happened on a baseball field. And the fact you could put a fan on the video screen and get poeple to laugh is still the greatest. You never know what people wiill do. We do a Kiss Cam, a Flex Cam, and parks around the country have cams for everything now. But stuff like that back in the early days was what made me. And the dot-race thing came out of nowhere.

When was the first dot race?

1987. I Nashville we had a black-and-white matrix board, and the A light would chase around the B light. And Jim Reeves said, "They have this thing in Oklahoma City called The Dot Race, you oughta come up with something like that." I went into Mike Stone's office -- he was the president at the time -- and I said, "I am going to run something, it has nothing to do with baseball, the fans will get nothing out of it, but let's see what happens." And they went nuts. The red light won that night.

Well, don't think I won't use that as a trivia question somewhere down the line.

And now the last lap's live. The video part of it is the most meaningless part. The most important thing now is how they come out to the gate. And at first, I was leery of doing stuff live. But we added this stolen-base thing, and it's as hot as the dot race. We get thousands of requests for that too.

Yes, I know of one particular 6-year-old who now thinks that's the coolest thing in the history of ever. Me, I've always been a big Chuck Morgan fan. There's a reason the team was particularly awful during your season in Kansas City, you know.

I'm just a Texas Rangers fan. And I have the greatest job in the world.

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Robert Wilonsky
Contact: Robert Wilonsky