ARLINGTON -- For Bobby Valentine, Monday night represented the first chance for him to manage a game in Arlington since the Rangers dismissed him during the 1992 season. Then there was rookie third baseman Will Middlebrooks, who had a chance to play professionally for the first time in his native state.
"I'd like it a lot better if they didn't have such a good team," Valentine said of managing in Texas for the first time in 20 years.
The last time Valentine managed here, the Rangers played at Arlington Stadium. The Ballpark in Arlington opened in 1994.
Valentine much prefers the new stadium. His memories of the old place?
"Jumping as the rats came by," Valentine said. "It had a lot of nice features. I remember a lot of the aromas of the park. One time they had a cricket thing. Do you guys remember the cricket thing? The cricket invasion?
"They had a cricket thing where, we had these big walls in the parking lot. Big white walls. Six, eight feet high. They were all black. There was this cricket game where they were throwing balls in between the crickets. There were so many millions of crickets."
Middlebrooks played at the Ballpark as a high school player.
"I remember how hot it was," Middlebrooks said. "It was in July before my senior year of high school. I don't remember much. It was an All-Star game or something. I'm excited to play here. It's a fun place. I remember watching Juan Gonzalez, Pudge Rodriguez, Rusty Greer, and [Alex Rodriguez] was here for a little bit."
Middlebrooks grew up in Texarcana, which is about two hours from Arlington. But he now lives in the Greater Dallas area during the offseason.
Valentine also still has some roots in Texas, where he got his start in Major League managing.
"My son lives here. I've got friends that I've been talking to all day long," Valentine said. "Tom Grieve is still here. [Public relations vice president] John Blake's still here. It's great for me personally coming back here, but it doesn't have anything to do with the game, that's for sure."