An Interview with Chuck Morgan

Patrick Despain: Where are you from, and what is your background in baseball?

Chuck Morgan: Originally from southern Illinois, Marion, Illinois. Played baseball from 6 to 18…All-Southern Illinois outfielder in American Legion, All-Conference outfielder in high school. Started doing baseball PA when I was 14 for Little League games after I had played. Did PA for the Nashville Sounds during my years in Nashville.

PD: How did you land a job with the Rangers? 


CM: Larry Schmittou, who owned the Nashville Sounds, became the Rangers VP of Marketing in 1983. I had known Larry for a long time in Nashville and after he got to Texas, he called and asked if I wanted to work in the big leagues. He knew it was a long shot, I had a very successful career in radio and TV in Nashville, hosting a lot of national shows, appearing on Hee Haw, announcer at the Grand Ole Opry, but he knew how much I loved baseball. I came down to Texas to visit and even though I gave up a lot, I took the job and it has turned to be one of the best decisions I ever made. Baseball has given me so many thrills, as much fun as I had doing what I was doing in Nashville, I don’t think I would have had the thrills that I have had being a small part of the Texas Rangers.

PD: How many people are behind the scenes of the entertainment side of RBIA?

CM: I have eight full time people in addition to me, that includes the promotions department. On a game night, that grows by about 15 people in the scoreboard control room and the promotions department has about 50 to 100 or more depending on whether we are giving away something or not.

PD: Where do you get the inspiration for new things?

CM: Over the years, inspiration comes from just about anything I have done or do. In the early years, a lot of it came from growing up and having parents that supported me and took me a lot of Cardinals games. For example, I played a lot of wiffle ball growing up, thus, we added a wiffle ball park in centerfield in 2000. I collected baseball cards growing up, still have most of them, I use a baseball card them on what I do for a lot of things on the video board, always have. Other inspiration comes from going to other ballparks or other places. Fan Fest was an idea that I started from the Cubs Fans Convention and Mickey’s Christmas Party at Disney World. I get more out of visiting other ballparks than sitting in meeting rooms. I always try to think what would I like to see if I were a fan in the seats.

PD: Where did you come up with the Dot-Race?

CM: We had a “light” race in Nashville, old black and white matrix scoreboard with an A light and B light racing each other across the board. Jim Reeves of the Star Telegram saw something similar to that in Oklahoma City in 1987. He said the fans loved the race in Oklahoma City, he said you should try something like that here. It took me about a month to come up with something for the old video board. So the dot race started as a combination of Nashville/Oklahoma City/Jim Reeves/Chuck Morgan crazy ideas. I am still surprised that it took off like it did.

PD: Who came up with the genius idea of playing the theme to “the Natural” after a Ranger home run?

CM: The Natural was my idea. When Jose Canseco was traded to the Rangers, I remembered that the Oakland A’s did a media guide cover in 1987 or so, that had a movie poster theme. On that graphic, they had a line that said “And Jose Canseco, starring as The Natural”. So I started out just playing The Natural for Jose Canseco home runs, other players started asking for it, and then when we moved over to the new ballpark, I just played it all the time. The only time I don’t like it, is when we are getting clobbered and somebody hits a late home run, doesn’t match the situation, but it’s our home run song.

PD: What is your greatest implementation at RBIA?

CM: My greatest implementation at the ballpark, I think is not to take away from the game on the field. I have been to so many sporting events where they take away from the most important thing, the game itself.  I really concentrate on that. I want folks to leave the ballgame feeling that they had a good time, but that the game was the most important thing. Whatever I did or my crew did, just added to the experience. You really want to take care of someone’s memories. Those are very important, somebody did while I was growing up. My implementations just add to the memory, its seeing the green grass, the scoreboards, Josh Hamilton or Michael Young hitting or Derek Holland and Yu Darvish pitching, but those players are the best part of going to a ballgame, I don’t want to do anything to take away from that.

PD: Who is the best player you have ever seen in person?

CM: Willie Mays or Sandy Koufax, heck even Nolan. I saw Nolan pitch when he was with the Mets. I was lucky. I grew up about 2 hours from St. Louis. My parents took me to a lot of Cardinal games. I saw a lot of the great National League players in the 1960s. Willie Mays, Pete Rose, Hank Aaron, Roberto Clemente. But Willie Mays is the greatest player I have ever seen in person. I never saw Mickey Mantle in person, but on TV in the 1960s. Josh Hamilton reminds me a lot of Mantle, especially running at top speed from first to third heading for a triple.

PD: What is the most satisfying thing you do at the ballpark?

CM: I think this question is a lot like number 7. Making sure we don’t take away from the game on the field. When you get an email or a tweet from a fan that had a good time or enjoys something that you did, that is very satisfying. Again, if a fan can leave the ballgame and had a good time, that makes me very happy. Very important to take care of fan’s memory of going to a Major League game.

PD: Have you ever had an embarrassing moment behind the mic?

CM: I have had my share and I am sure there are more to come. The worst for me was a time I wasn’t paying attention. I was looking for a CD or something at old Arlington Stadium…I heard the crack of the bat and I assumed that Pete Incaviglia had made an out, so I introduced Juan Gonzalez…but Inky had fouled a ball off, “correction Incaviglia still hitting.” The first time I ever did PA at 14, my first words that came out were “Good Ev-ver-ning”…my mom never let me forget that. After playoff games or All-Star Games or announcing at the Grand Ole Opry, she always told people, “yeah, but his first ever words on the PA were “Good Ev-ver-ning”

PD: And do you ever let a fan in the booth during a game, to see how you operate everything? If so, how does one accomplish that?

CM: We can’t have as many people into the booth as we use to have due to the amount of media that attend our games now. But, we can set something up sometime and we can have someone visit for a half inning or so….. 

Patrick Despain is the Editor for ShutDownInning.com. He can be reached at Patrick.Despain@shutdowninning.com or on Twitter @ShutDownInning.
Patrick Despain
Patrick is a member of the IBWAA and creator of Shutdown Inning. He was raised him Arlington, Texas and grew up watching games on HSE and listening to Eric Nadel and Mark Holtz on the radio. He is a long time Rangers fan and never achieved his dream of being a bat boy. He know lives in Georgia with dreams of a Texas return.

Leave a Reply