You know well enough what Chuck Greenberg and John Rhadigan bring to expect that they'd be as solid, as easygoing and energetic, as they were last night. Ben Rogers and Jeff "Skin" Wade: consistent awesomeness. Luther Davis running an auction, Ted Price live-streaming things, Norma & George & Ryan Wolfson helping move things along seamlessly, you guys generously stepping up to help raise thousands of dollars to help local kids - if you've been to any Newberg Report events, there are certain things that are known quantities.
But, for me, what stood out last night like an excessively red sportcoat was the presence of Don Welke, who was establishing himself as one of baseball's most well-respected scouts and advisors before many of us, including the Texas Rangers franchise, were born.
I've been around Don (who even the people he works with every day refer to as "Coach") a lot the last six years, and if I had to put together one of those dream dinner tables and the category was people to talk baseball with, he'd be there. But all those times I'd been around him, he was almost invisible, in a stadium seat or pacing on the back fields behind a chain-link fence, wearing standard issue scouts' attire and watching, quietly. I'd never seen him speak to a group of 10 people, let alone the couple hundred we packed into the room last night.
But Coach was the star of the show. I didn't count but I bet he ended up fielding as many of your questions as Chuck or John did. He talked about the Rangers' farm system as a whole and about specific prospects, about scouting philosophies, about what he thinks this team needs, about Michael Young. In holding forth about Elvis Andrus and what he gave the team in October, one of the things he keyed on was a young player's capacity for stepping up when the lights go on.
It may be strange to say the same thing about someone who has had 45 years in the game, but for me, Coach was the one who put things into a gear last night that I didn't realize he had. In a jacket that ought to keep our local optometrists' phone lines busy today.
Ted has loaded the video of the two-hour Q&A with Ben & Skin, Chuck, Rhads, and Coach at http://dallassportsnetwork.tv/2011/02/10/dsn-tv-newberg-book-release-party-210/. Check it out.
Thanks as always to Marcus White and his staff at Sherlock's, to Karin Morris of the Rangers Foundation and Brad Newton and Allen Cordrey and Pat Payton, who provided most of the auction items, to Fox 4 News, who came out and grabbed some footage for last night's sportscast, and to all of you who were out there with us.
I'm more ready than ever for some Rangers baseball.
By the way, here's a writeup that blogger Brandon Wilson did from last night's event: