Graduates form first lineup at Rangers' ballpark

May 30th, 2020

The new 1.8 million-square-foot Globe Life Field hosted its first public event on Friday afternoon.

What was originally scheduled to be the middle of a nine-game homestand at the new home of the Rangers instead became a high school graduation ceremony.

The ceremony Friday marked the first of more than 40 graduation ceremonies to take place over the next month. Nearly 40,000 students will graduate at Globe Life Field, each getting a final chance to commemorate a senior year that didn't go quite as expected because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It was fun to walk into Globe Life Field this morning, with all the energy and excitement,” said Sean Decker, Rangers executive vice president of events and entertainment. “Certainly not the way we expected to open the building, but it’s an opportunity we’re really excited about.”

The organization will provide the graduation experience to deserving seniors throughout 19 school districts across the metroplex.

“It’s not a baseball game, it’s not the concert that we hoped for,” Decker said, “but, at its most basic level, to give these graduates the opportunity as part of our first event is something we’re really proud of.”

Irving Independent School District will graduate nearly 2,500 students over the course of two days, with Singley Academy’s 400 students marking the first group to walk across home plate to receive their diplomas.

“This is a big deal for our students,” Irving district superintendent Magda Hernandez said. “They worked hard. They deserve it, and they made it to the finish line. Globe Life Field is making [graduation] happen for many, many, students.”

Hernandez understands first hand how important hosting in-person graduation ceremonies is to every student and their families, as her daughter graduated in the first ceremony at Globe Life Field.

“As a parent, I understood what our students were feeling,” Hernandez said. “She is a huge fan of the Rangers. She was looking forward to Opening Day, and it’s amazing how God works. Opening Day is her graduation.”

Kelly Gavin/Texas Rangers

The Rangers worked with each district's health department, as well as followed the Texas Education Agency’s guidelines, to ensure the best safety and health practices were in place for every graduation.

“Ten weeks ago, we didn’t anticipate having our fans and staff in masks,” Decker said. “All [the safety protocols in place] are very different than how we planned to open the building, but if that’s what it takes to open the building, then we’re all for it.”

Facility staff were stationed throughout the concourse to wipe down frequently touched surfaces. Mobile hand-washing stations were also placed throughout the concourse, as well as hand-sanitizing stations.

Graduation ceremonies are set to continue until the end of June. The ballpark also will open to the public starting this Monday for its first public tours.