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Ex-mayor who brought Rangers to Texas dies at 84
Question of the Day
The morning after that historic win, Tom Vandergriff fell and broke his hip, preventing from attending any World Series games, his son said. The Rangers lost the World Series to the San Francisco Giants in five games.
Born in Carrollton, another Dallas suburb, on Jan. 29, 1926, Vandergriff moved to Arlington when he was 11 and later planted the seeds for what many consider the entertainment center of Texas.
He was elected the city’s youngest mayor at age 25 in 1951 and soon helped lure a General Motors plant to Arlington, then welcomed another developer’s idea to build an amusement park for the plant’s employees. Six Flags over Texas grew into one of the state’s top tourist attractions.
In 1965, Vandergriff brought Dallas and Fort Worth officials together to help build a minor league baseball stadium that was later expanded to accommodate the Washington Senators when they relocated. It was renamed Arlington Stadium after Vandergriff declined an effort to name it after him.
Vandergriff gave up the mayoral post in 1977, served one term as a Democrat in the U.S. House of Representatives in the 1980s and was a Republican judge in Tarrant County from 1991 until he retired in 2007. In his last elected role, he was instrumental in the building of Rangers Ballpark in Arlington, which opened in 1994.
The Rangers‘ stately red-brick stadium now sits a few hundred yards from the glass walls and retractable hole in the roof of $1.3 billion Cowboys Stadium, the year-old home of the Dallas Cowboys and site of the Super Bowl in February.
Both stadiums are near Six Flags and just across Interstate 30 from a major water park that is always bustling during Texas’ blistering summer days.
“The thing I prize the most is that I think I helped, at least in part, to develop a confidence, a spirit in Arlington that we could dream the big dream,” he was once quoted as saying, according to a news release from the city.
Vandergriff worked for 13 years to bring Major League Baseball to Arlington, and threw out the first pitch on April 21, 1972, after he finally succeeded.
By Orrin G. Hatch
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