ARLINGTON -- Former Arlington mayor Richard Greene will forever be an iconic person in the history of the Rangers. He was the one who provided the leadership and the political clout necessary to help get the Ballpark in Arlington built in 1994, back when other cities had designs to swoop
ARLINGTON -- Former Arlington mayor Richard Greene will forever be an iconic person in the history of the Rangers. He was the one who provided the leadership and the political clout necessary to help get the Ballpark in Arlington built in 1994, back when other cities had designs to swoop in and take the franchise.
Globe Life Park now enters its final season, but Greene remains a prominent figure within the Rangers organization. It was the Richard Greene Scholars Program -- now in its 22nd year -- that led the Rangers to receive the Allan H. Selig Award for Philanthropic Excellence at the quarterly owners meeting in November.
The program has awarded over $1.2 million in scholarships to 126 Arlington ISD high school students, leading young men and women into highly successful careers that Greene said have exceeded the program's expectations.
"It was tremendous to be honored by other team owners and peers," said Neil Leibman, the Rangers Chief Operating Officer. "For the work we have done off the field, it means a tremendous amount to be recognized by the Commissioner and receive the Allan H. Selig Award. The Richard Greene Scholar Program speaks for itself with the number of kids who have gone on to great things."
Some of those recipients were at Globe Life Park on Monday night for a reception to honor Greene and his wife Sylvia, who is the program administrator, and to celebrate the Selig Award.
"It was a great focus on this program nationally that the Commissioner provided us with the award," Greene said. "It made it possible for the Texas Rangers Foundation to tell this story beyond this community, which is appropriate because the impact of these students that have come through this program the past 22 years are spread out all over the country."
Recipients of the program have been able to attend college not only in Texas but across the U.S., including renowned institutions like Harvard, Brown, Stanford and Columbia. They continue to distinguish themselves in a variety of careers including military service, or as doctors, nurses, attorneys and engineers.
"These students are not chosen based on need necessarily, but many times those who are selected have a tremendous need in their life financially," Sylvia Greene said. "This is an amazing experience for them and they have done amazing things. Many of them are pursuing or have gotten a Masters or a PhD before starting out in the professional world."
One of those is Kris Hawbaker, graduate of the Naval Academy. Hawbaker, who graduated from Arlington High School, is currently a naval aviator with the rank of Commander who has served in the Middle East, Africa and the Mediterranean.
"I think it just gave me an idea of what exists, which was huge," Hawbaker said. "As it turned out, entering the Navy was the idea of community service, community leadership and civic responsibility and how that can translate into service to country, dedicaton and devotion to duty. Those things began here when I saw what existed."
The program was started by former Rangers president Tom Schieffer in collaboration with the late Lynn Hale, who was the Arlington ISD superintendent from 1993-97. It was named for Greene, who spent 10 years as mayor of Arlington and remains active in the community.
One student is chosen from Arlington's six high schools: Arlington, Sam Houston, Martin, Lamar, Bowie and Seguin. They are selected in their junior year.
"The idea was to identify students who not only had academic achievement in their schoolwork, but they had the potential for leadership," Greene said. "They were measured for that through their extracurricular activities and their community involvement."
In their senior year, the six scholarship winners worked in the community in non-profit, local business and local government to get a well-rounded experience. There is also a mentorship program. Once they enter college, they are under the care of Karin Morris and the Texas Rangers Baseball Foundation, which helps guide them through school.
"These amazing young people have distinguished themselves in ways that exceeded expectations," Greene said. "So, it gives us a great sense of pride in them and the program's success as they honor the Rangers with their continued commitment to it. It really raises that whole level of success we expected when the program was launched. It has been better than we imagined."
T.R. Sullivan has covered the Rangers since 1989, and for MLB.com since 2006. Follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger and listen to his podcast.