ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) – A retired U.S. Air Force staff sergeant will throw out the ceremonial first pitch and Gov. Greg Abbott will make a “Texas Toss” to former Rangers’ star Ivan “Pudge” Rodriguez before the Texas Rangers’ home opener featuring the state’s two major league teams next week.
The Rangers on Thursday announced plans for pregame activities for the April 10 home opener against the Houston Astros, while also unveiling a list of new menu items – highlighted by bacon in several forms.
Abbott, who took office in January, will throw to Rodriguez, the Rangers’ longtime All-Star catcher, before the teams are introduced.
The ceremonial first pitch will come from retired Staff Sgt. Nicholas Bradley, who was injured when his vehicle was struck by an improvised explosive device while on a surveillance mission in Afghanistan in August 2008.
Bradley, who also served in Iraq, has undergone 16 surgeries and continues occupational and physical therapy. He has also participated in former President George W. Bush’s golf tournament for veterans wounded in the post-9/11 wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The Rangers offered a preview of new food items with a presentation at the newly renovated all-you-can-eat area now known as the Cholula Porch. The former restaurant at the top of the home run porch in right field is now a 7,000-square foot open space with a bar.
There is a lot of bacon: from chicken-fried bacon on a stick to BLT on a bun, a bacon lollipop and bacon beer. Also introduced were the Holland Hot Tot’chos, tater tots with chick or steak, sautéed peppers and buffalo sauce that pitcher Derek Holland was on hand to taste.
And for those buying in bulk, there’s the 24-inch taco dubbed “Nacho Average Taco,” at a cost of $26.
The Rangers open the season Monday in Oakland and will play a four-game series against the Athletics there before the first game at home.