ARLINGTON, Texas – Gus Walker, 14, knew he would get a behind-the-scenes tour of a Rangers broadcast with the Fox Sports Southwest crew on Thursday.
What he didn’t know was that he would also throw out the first pitch.
“I didn’t know that until the car ride here,” said a wide-eyed Walker, whose family waited to inform him of the honor.
“We figured he’d freak out,” said his father, Reid Walker.
No problem. Gus fired a strike to his new friend, Rangers pitcher Derek Holland, before the home team took the field against the Toronto Blue Jays.
Holland was a surprise visitor as the Walkers, from Dallas, sat in on a pregame production meeting with the Fox Southwest crew.
The Walkers won the exclusive behind-the-scenes tour thanks to a $10,000 donation made to the Wounded Warrior Project benefit broadcast of a game last September.
After Gus threw out the first pitch, the Walkers, including mom Stacey and cousin Reid, went up the pressbox. Gus put on the headsets and sat in with Rangers broadcasters Steve Busby and Tom Grieve for an inning.
“That was cool,” said Gus, an aspiring sports broadcaster. “This is what I’d like to do.”
The Walkers also visited the Rangers radio booth and the public address booth manned by Chuck Morgan.
“He’s been less nervous now that he got the first pitch over,” said his father, Reid. “The booth’s been calm for him.”
The Walkers also met with pregame hosts John Rhadigan and Mark McLemore on the Rangers Live set, and followed reporter Emily Jones to her position next to the Rangers’ dugout.
“Everything’s been fun,” Gus said near the end of the tour. “The radio’s fun, TV’s fun. Chuck Morgan, the PA, was fun, too. All of it was fun.”
It was the best kind of fun, as his father said, because more than just the Walkers benefited.
“This was a great experience and it’s a great cause,” Reid Walker said. “This was his Christmas present from us and we also love supporting veteran’s causes, and the Wounded Warrior Project is a great one. It was a great thing for us to do for him, and it meant a lot to him. It’s been a win-win-win for everybody.”