It was 23 years ago today when I started a job that didn’t involve ringing up groceries or tutoring math or official scorekeeping or resident-assisting or courthouse-running or laying out print ads or stuffing record albums.
It was 23 years ago, September 12, 1994, when I walked into an office for the first time as a full-time lawyer.
I’ve practiced law for nearly half my life. That’s weird.
(Not as weird as some of the ads I had to crop for the Dallas Observer.)
(But still weird.)
On September 12, 1994, there was no baseball. A month earlier, Texas — which had never earned a playoff game in its 22 years — had finished its inaugural season in Globe Life Park (then The Ballpark in Arlington) in first place in the AL West.
With a 52–62 record.
A record that was worse than every team’s in the AL East and worse than every team’s in the AL Central, other than the last-place Twins, who shared the Rangers’ mark.
That’s the win-loss record Texas would finish with, due to the Players Association going on strike, and the franchise’s playoff-less streak would persist.
After seven years in Austin, I was back in Dallas, gainfully employed, and Rangers baseball started to get a lot more interesting.
The strike ended a month into 1995, and the Rangers were finally post-season participants in three of the next four seasons, after which Alex Rodriguez was a Texas Ranger in three of the following four seasons, a couple years after which Jon Daniels was handed the keys, the decade-plus following which has featured two World Series and more 162+ seasons than not, and here we are, with another Rangers season we will never forget.
Because Yu was traded and because Adrian not only hit safely for the 3,000th time but also was putting together his second-best offensive season ever and because Joey arrived and because Elvis arrived and because Jake Diekman is a human beast and because, in spite of Adrian missing half the year and Yu being traded and a thousand bullpen meltdowns early and meaningful disabled list time for every starting pitcher and nearly every starting position player, the Rangers are more competitive with three weeks to go than they were in almost every one of those first 22 years that I wasn’t lawyering.
Adrian is out and Carlos is out and Nomar is banged up and Rougie is banged up and now Joey may be banged up and the fact that Nap didn’t start against a lefty last night suggests he might be, too, and all those injuries impact every corner spot on the field plus DH, at least indirectly, and it’s presumably for that reason that Willie Calhoun tweeted this late last night, not long after Napoli wasn’t well enough to participate in Texas 5, Seattle 3 and Joey tweaked his glove wrist in the final inning of the game.
It had looked fairly certain that Calhoun wasn’t going to debut this month, strictly for procedural reasons, but injuries change plans, and there’s a playoff spot (now just two teams and two games out of reach) to chase.
The left-handed-hitting Calhoun, who is now a left fielder (asked about criticisms of his defense, he responds: “I play three-hole”), may not play tonight, as Texas faces another lefty before finishing the Mariners series against a pair of righthanders, but I wouldn’t rule anything out. Calhoun (who hit .300/.355/.572 against AAA pitching this year, though four years young for the Pacific Coast League at age 22, with 31 homers, 42 walks, and more extra-base hits  than strikeouts  in 534 plate appearances) is here to play, or he wouldn’t be here until 2018.
Calhoun was born on November 4, 1994, which was right around the day Bar Exam results were released and didn’t end my law career 53 days in.
Today my law career turns 23, and from now on, the anniversary of my work career, at least at the level I had to prepare years for (not that stuffing record albums didn’t take a little training), will also be the anniversary of Willie Calhoun’s, at least at the level he prepared for and dreamed about for well more than half his life.
And if he helps his new teammates, who are within two games of a playoff spot, win a couple games down the stretch with his bat, the events of September 12 may turn out to be more than just a footnote in the story of why this season, like so many lately, might well be one we’ll never forget.