By T. Scott Boatright
One has to believe Kevin Costner would be proud.
It was a dream of a lifetime — a “Field of Dreams” experience in a way for 2014 Ruston High graduate Matt Oakes.
One that was basically a lifetime in the making.
Matt and his father Jim, the former athletics director at Louisiana Tech, were on hand for Game 5 Wednesday night in Phoenix to cheer the Texas Rangers on to a World Series championship as the Rangers defeated the Arizona Diamondbacks 5-0.
And for someone who has followed the Rangers since he was a child, it was literally a dream come true for the 28-year-old now working on his PhD in Accounting at Ole Miss.
“It all started way back when I was a child when my parents would pack up the triplets (Matt and brothers John and Ty) to head to Texas to watch some Rangers baseball,” Matt said. “It was just something that got into my blood.
“From then on we’d spend time going to Rangers games and I just fell in love with them. They became my team — the team I follow from the start of spring training until their season ends. That goes back to when Alex Rodriguez was playing with them. We were the perfect age to learn and fall in love with baseball when he was a Ranger and they became and always have been my team ever since.”
Being such a big Rangers fan didn’t always bring World Series happiness, though. Matt remembers going to games during a couple of World Series when the Rangers didn’t walk away as world champions. Matt and his father were also on hand when Texas played in the World Series when he was a young teen — in 2010 against St. Louis and in 2011 against San Francisco.
“Those were tough but we went to Texas to see them in both World Series,” Matt said. “And while I loved being there, you go to see your team win. So it was tough when that didn’t happen.
“But that’s what made Wednesday night so sweet — finally seeing them win it all.”
The Oakes are big enough fans that Matt and Jim have even traveled together to Arizona to watch the Rangers in spring training in Cactus League play.
“That might have been what made this time even that much more special — going back to Arizona and getting to see them play in the World Series,” Matt said. “But spring training and the World Series are so different from each other.
“Being at a World Series is an amazing experience no matter which team you’re pulling for. But getting to see your team not only play in the World Series, but to be there and watch them win it, was amazing. It was almost electric, even with the win coming on the road. But that’s the other thing — we had already been to Arizona to watch them play. But seeing them not only play in the World Series, but to also win it, was incredible. It’s something I’ll always remember.”
It was actually Jim Oakes’ first chance to see the Rangers play in Arizona despite the fact he had gone there to spring training with Matt.
“He actually came down with food poisoning and was too sick to go then, so I just went to that while he stayed back in the hotel room,” Matt said. “So I know it was really special for him, too, to be able to actually go see them play this time.
“And even better, it was the game in which they won their first World Series. I’m sure it’s something he’ll never forget either.”
And should the Rangers ever reach a fourth World Series, Matt hopes he can be there to cheer on his team again.
“I’ll do anything I can if that opportunity ever comes up again,” Matt said. “Maybe seeing them in Texas the next time and hopefully even watching them win it in front of the home crowd and being a part of all of that.
“But I don’t know if it could beat being there to watch them win their first World Series championship. That’s true history because that will always be their first world championship, and I was there — we were there. And that’s something that makes it extra special — getting to be a part of history.”