Chuck Morgan could be anywhere. He could be standing in line at the local grocery store when somebody will ask ...
“Hey Chuck! What time is it?”
Morgan loves to oblige them.
“It’s baseball time in Texas!” Morgan will tell them in that beloved voice fans have been listening to since April 4, 1983, when the Rangers hired him away from the Grand Ole Opry to be their public-address announcer.
“Two weeks before that, I was introducing Barbara Mandrell at the Grand Ole Opry,” Morgan said. “Two weeks later, I’m introducing Buddy Bell as the Rangers' third baseman.”
Now, as the Rangers return home for a four-game series with the Astros this weekend, Morgan is getting ready to work his 3,000th consecutive home game as the public-address announcer.
Morgan is scheduled to hit that milestone on Saturday night. The 3,000 consecutive home games cover a 38-year career that began on Opening Night in 1983, when there were just 13,140 fans at Arlington Stadium to watch a team that had lost 98 games the year before.
“We were also going up against the University of Houston Cougars and Phi Slama Jama in the Final Four,” Morgan said.
The year before coming to Arlington, Morgan had been the Country Music Association's Disc Jockey of the Year. He had worked the Grand Ole Opry, The Nashville Network and of course, "Hee Haw."
But Morgan's love for baseball ran deep. His first job as a public-address announcer was at age 14 in his hometown of Marion, Ill., when he was asked to do a Little League game. The guy who asked him offered him a pack of baseball cards.
“He said the magic words,” Morgan said. “So I filled in that night and did more games after that.”
That booth is still there at Ray Fosse Park. Next year, it will be dedicated in Morgan’s name.
Morgan was a big name in Nashville, but he still found time to be the public-address announcer for the Triple-A Nashville Sounds, working for club president Larry Schmittou. When Schmittou was hired by the Rangers to be their vice president of marketing, he asked Morgan to join him in Arlington.
“I first turned Larry down,” Morgan said. “But then I got to thinking about it over Christmas and the New Year, and my love for baseball and a chance to be a part of Major League Baseball, that really appealed to me.”
Morgan was with the Rangers for 19 years before joining the Royals in 2002. He returned to Texas the following season and has been with the Rangers since. But to refer to Morgan as just a public-address announcer doesn’t do justice to someone who arrives at the ballpark at 9:30 a.m. to prepare for a 7:05 p.m. game. He won’t leave until 30-45 minutes after the final out.
Now, Morgan has a hefty title. In the Rangers' 400-page media guide, Morgan is listed as the executive vice president of ballpark entertainment, promotions and productions. But when he first started, Morgan was just another front-office employee trying to do it all, from advertising and promotions to selling ballpark suites.
Yes, there have been others who have done it longer. Dan Baker has been doing it for the Phillies for 49 years, although he has missed some games during that time. Pat Pieper did it with the Cubs for 50 years (1924-74) without missing a game. Bob Sheppard was a legend at Yankee Stadium for 56 years, but he openly admitted he took more pride in his day job as a high school teacher in New York City.
Morgan’s day job includes editing video to be shown on the scoreboard that night. Oh, and don’t forget the Dot Race. It started in Oklahoma City, but Morgan brought it to Arlington Stadium, and now there are multiple variations in different parks, from the Subway Race at Yankee Stadium to the Hydro Challenge in Seattle.
Morgan admitted the Dot Race ended up being big, but he does not want that to be what he is remembered for as a public-address announcer.
“I don’t ever want to do anything to take away from the game on the field,” Morgan said. “That is the most important thing that happens in the ballpark. Hopefully, a fan leaves the ballpark and I didn’t do anything to take away from their enjoyment of the game and they received the information they needed to enjoy that game.”
Morgan was there for Nolan Ryan’s 5,000th strikeout and seventh no-hitter, the opening of the Ballpark in Arlington, the 1995 All-Star Game, Kenny Rogers' perfect game and three American League West championship teams led by Juan Gonzalez, Ivan Rodriguez and Rusty Greer in the late '90s.
Morgan came back from Kansas City to see Rafael Palmeiro’s 500th home run, Sammy Sosa's 600th home run and Adrián Beltré’s 3,000th hit. Best of all were the World Series appearances in 2010 and '11.
This year has been rough with the shortened 60-game regular season and no fans in the stands. The Rangers were eagerly waiting to show off new Globe Life Field.
The hope is baseball will be back to normal in 2021 at the new ballpark. And Morgan will be right there, in a special broadcast booth built right behind home plate surrounded by displays of memorabilia for fans to walk by and enjoy.
It’s hard to imagine “baseball time in Texas” without Morgan at the microphone.
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.