NEWBERG REPORT PLUS — SEPTEMBER 16, 2006
And he did it in style, with a line drive single to center, scoring a run. Michael’s 200th hit of 2006 drove in his 94th run of the season, five short of a career best. Chances are he’ll knock in number 100 three doubles from now, when he collects two-bagger number 51 for the year, breaking Juan Gonzalez’s franchise record.
It was a great, great night at the yard for my family and me and lots of our friends. The 20 of us, along with more than 40,000 others, were on our feet as Chuck Morgan announced what Michael had just accomplished with the seventh-inning base hit, his third of the night.
Moments later, after Mark Teixeira drove in a run with his fourth hit of the game and moved Michael to third base, chasing Angels reliever Chris Bootcheck, Chuck put up a montage on the Jumbotron to honor Michael and what he had done, and what he is. All 40,000-plus had our eyes glued to the screen.
But Michael, the Leader of My Team, stood on third, looking at the ground, to nobody’s surprise. When he notches another 200 next year, going from the fourth player since 1940 to do it four straight years to the third to do it five straight, he’ll once again kick at the dirt, and do everything he can not to soak in the extra attention that he genuinely believes belongs to everyone who wears the same uniform he does. He’ll look down at the ground, unassuming, almost embarrassed, ready to get the game back on.
The man is so damned consistent.
The following is reprinted from last October.
THE NEWBERG REPORT
October 2, 2005
I have this vision.
It’s August 14, 2019, Max’s 15th birthday. His sophomore year in high school won’t begin for another week or two. He’s got his running buddies, but it’s a Wednesday, and what he wants to do that night for his birthday is spend it with Dad at Ameriquest Field. Whether Mom joins us probably depends on whether Erica is home that summer, having just finished her freshman year in college.
My vision is a little fuzzy on whether John Danks is pitching that night, and whether that’s Mike Nickeas or Taylor Teagarden or Cristian Santana he’s pitching to, but I’m pretty sure Johnny Whittleman is hitting second and playing third. And though my gut tells me it’s overly optimistic, there’s first baseman Mark Teixeira, wearing Rangers red.
Hey, it’s my vision.
And there Max sits with his 50-year-old Dad, in that place that through his childhood and adolescence remained a constant for us, a haven where we could always connect regardless of what else was going on in each of our lives.
The scoreboard is blurry and so I’m not exactly sure what inning it is, but I’m going to say it’s the seventh, because it’s clearly dark outside.
And we’re all standing and cheering wildly as 14-year-old Mateo Young, running out onto the field from his seat in the Owner’s Box, gives Dad a hug at second base, where he just pulled up on a double that he rifled to right center, the 3000th base hit of his career. I should note that it’s the bottom of the inning. That part is crucial.
It will be the final big league season for 42-year-old Michael Young. Twenty seasons, all spent as a Texas Ranger.
The next part of the vision is me and Max in Cooperstown, in July of 2025, the first trip there for both of us. It’s Ginger’s first time there, too. Same for Erica (having just finished the bar exam?), who has the same cheerful look on her face and twinkle in her eyes as she did at age five every time she saw “Michael !!” come up to the plate.
As a family, we see Michael Young enshrined. He goes into the Hall of Fame as part of a class that includes his friend Alex Rodriguez, the man he replaced as shortstop for the Texas Rangers way back in 2004 and almost as quickly surpassed as a team leader.
In this vision of mine, Michael is appropriately appreciative of the Hall of Fame recognition, a validation of the conviction he always had that he could do absolutely everything on the baseball field that his ever-decreasing set of doubters doggedly said he couldn’t. Three thousand hits is no longer a lock for induction by the ’20s, but there are extra bullet points that made Michael’s entrance a slam dunk, including those three batting titles and the World Series MVP trophy. Plus the fact that the only things he ever gave the media reason to write about occurred on the field.
He was also appreciative of that August 14, 2019 ovation from a sellout crowd full of kids and their parents, for most of whom Michael Young was the embodiment of the Texas Rangers for as long as they’d cared about their team. I don’t say a word and neither does Max, and we don’t need to. The smile on each of our faces is identical.
Appreciative as Michael was of that reception from nearly 50,000, it didn’t mean as much to him as that hug from Mateo on the field, and it didn’t mean as much to him as the fact that that double to right center drove in two runs to give his team a 4-3 lead in the seventh. Once Michael headed to the Owner’s Box and kissed Cristina and their other kids, and hugged Anna and Fred and the rest of his family, Mateo found his seat again and Michael found his place back on the bag at second base. The ovation still hadn’t died, and there were tears in a lot of eyes in that building and on lots of living room sofas, but not in Michael’s eyes.
With the ovation only marginally losing steam, and most everyone in the ballpark thinking only about the history they were experiencing in that spectacular moment, what instead was apparent in Michael Young’s eyes was that he was zeroed in on the pitcher and the second baseman, methodically extending his lead to improve his chances of scoring on a single and extending the Texas lead to 5-3.