Scoring the ultimate gig

October 29, 2010

Going into the 2010 Major League Baseball season, three franchises — the Seattle Mariners, the Washington Nationals and the Texas Rangers — had yet to drink from the World Series cup.

But after scorching through the regular season and dispatching two perennial American League favorites in Tampa Bay and New York, Texas Rangers fans’ thirst has been quenched.

Steve Weller ’77 has reveled in every sip.

From his perch high above the meticulously kept turf at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington, Texas, Weller keeps watch as official scorer for the 2010 American League champions.

“It was always a dream to end up in Major League Baseball,” Weller said from his office at Parker College in Dallas, where he serves as Director of Athletics and Recreation.

As official scorer, Weller determines if a batter receives a hit or if an error is charged to a position player. He also records what time the first pitch was thrown, the duration of the game and the gametime weather. Come Saturday night around 6:30, Weller hopes for clear Texas skies and a strike from Rangers starter Colby Lewis.

“I’m picking the Rangers in seven games,” Weller said. “It’s all about the team who is hot coming into the World Series.”

Weller’s road to the Fall Classic parallels that of the Texas Rangers franchise. It took the Rangers 38 seasons to reach the ultimate goal of every ball club. Weller’s road began when his own baseball career ended after high school took him to the Coast Guard and then on a two-month-long “find me” journey, a journey that led him from his hometown of Arlington Heights to the Hilltop.

“My relatives owned a clothing store in Peoria and encouraged me to visit Bradley,” he said. “The people I met on campus were so friendly, and I went into Swords Hall for more information on the school.”

After visiting colleges in St. Louis, Tulsa, San Antonio, and New Orleans, Weller sat down with his father and told him that he’d be attending Bradley.

“I wanted to stay involved in sports, and as a senior, (former BU sports information director) Joe Dalfonso ‘76 gave me the opportunity to travel with the teams and be a part of the basketball program.”

Weller¹s post-graduate career took him to Central Missouri State University, where he became the first SID in the school’s history, then to SIU-Edwardsville. He next worked for the international headquarters of Little League Baseball and the University of Texas-Arlington before joining Parker College. Steve served as press officer for the 1984 and 1988 U.S. Olympic teams and was president of the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association. 

But his roots remained firmly planted in Bradley soil.

“I will miss the Field House,” he said, remembering nights of camping out for Louisville tickets and watching Secret Service personnel sweep the arena in advance of President Ford’s arrival.

“We had a group of about 25 of us that lived on the third floor of Lovelace Hall for four years,” Weller said, fondly recalling the days spent with lifelong friends Steve Warneke ’77 and Roger Zipprich ’77. “Most people were trying to get out of Lovelace because it didn’t have air conditioning.”

As the heat of the Texas summer gave way to fall, most of the noise that comes out of Arlington is usually centered on the Dallas Cowboys — but not this year. Weller hopes that the noise coming out of Bradley remains audible throughout the college athletics landscape.

“Bradley has always relied on intelligent student-athletes. With the new facilities, Bradley will continue to attract the over-achieving student-athlete. Bradley is a university full of over-achievers,” he said, making another parallel to a Rangers ball club that is littered with guys who have continued to grind it out in pursuit of a World Championship.

Weller looks forward to rooting on the Braves when they travel to Durham, North Carolina, in December to take on defending national champion Duke at Cameron Indoor Stadium as well as arranging local alumni events in Dallas.

You might be able to pick him out of the Braves cheering section by looking for a World Series ring.