Pitchers and catchers began reporting to spring training camp today, but rookies for the Texas Rangers turned their attention away from home plate and to the dinner plate instead.
Susan Huston, a sort of Miss Manners of North Texas, shared her fashion and etiquette expertise with 20 Rangers' rookies in a special workshop on Monday. Huston dished out advice on everything from what to wear to a formal restaurant to how to eat in one, all as part of a weeklong special workshop to help rookies feel more comfortable in social situations off the field.
"The Rangers see these young men as an asset to them, and if they're trained in this area [etiquette], they're going to be even more of an asset when they get to be stars," said Huston.
Manners, Money and Media
The Rangers organization made headlines in the offseason by acquiring free agent short stop Alex Rodriguez for $252 million, the largest deal in the history of sports, in an effort to win a championship. Now, the Texas club shifts its focus to teaching good manners as a way to develop character.
"When our scouts sit down with the parents, they say, 'We're going to take care of your boys,'" said Reid Nichols, the Rangers' director of development. "We try to take care of them this way to help them avoid some of the problems you see in the paper now."
The rookies also will get a crash course in personal finance, nutrition, dealing with the media and how to make good decisions regarding personal behavior.
"As far as acting professional, that's the way they want us to be and that's the way it should be," rookie Texas pitcher Chad Hawkins said.
Different Kind of Training Camp
The Arlington etiquette expert instructed the young men on how to master a firm handshake ("This hand is supposed to go right into that hand — web to web, right?"), and advised them on what goes where on a formal dinner table heaped with glasses, plates and silverware.
"You need to know that your water glass … goes right in front of your knife — that's yours. It stays there," Huston instructed as part of the three-hour session held at The Ballpark in Arlington.
The full Rangers squad is due to report to training camp on Feb. 23 in Port Charles, Fla., one of 20 teams to train for six weeks in the Sunshine State. In the meantime, the focus is on building up the off-the-field muscle.
"You're all going to be famous someday," Huston told the group, The Associated Press reported. "When you're having dinner in the White House, remember me."
WFAA's Karin Kelly in Dallas contributed to this report.