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Texas nun keeps faith in Rangers, baseball

October 24, 2011 |  6:45 pm

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Sister Frances Evans (above left), 85, has been cheering for the Texas Rangers ever since the team moved west from Washington, D.C., in 1972.

She spoke with The Times before attending Game 5 of the World Series in Arlington on Monday night, the Rangers' last home game against the Cardinals before they are scheduled to depart for St. Louis.

Q: Where will you be sitting tonight?

A: Row 14, behind home plate.

Q: Do you plan to bring your drum, the one longtime Rangers fan John J. Lanzillo Jr. -- better known as “Zonk” -- gave you last year, that all the players signed?

A: I always bring the drum.

Q: How did you become a baseball fan?

A: I grew up a tomboy. I played baseball and football with the fellas. None of your basic frilly type stuff.

Q: And where was it that you grew up?

A: Temple, Texas.

Q: How did you become a nun?

A: I was a convert. I worked six years in Santa Rosa Hospital in San Antonio in the lab. There was something different about the sisters. The only thing I can think is, God just shook me by the neck and said, "This is what you’re going to do." In 1950 I entered convent in San Antonio, the Sisters of Charity of the Incarnate Word.

Q: Did you wear habits?

A: We sure did! We wore habits for a long time.

Q: Could you go to baseball games?

A: Not back then, you didn’t go much of anywhere. I worked in the hospital most of the time. I don’t think we even had television when I entered.

I was stationed here in Fort Worth in 1967. It was beginning to lighten up a bit here and there. I remember well when they went to the shorter skirts and I walked out of chapel and felt the breeze on my knees. I never knew how good that would feel.

Q: What are some of your favorite Rangers memories?

A: When the Rangers moved here in '72, Sister Maggie and I were at the opening game. I can still see Frank Howard hitting that home run. It was a great thing to see.

We got to know [Rangers owner] Nolan [Ryan] when he was playing ball for us. He has a lovely family, Ruth is a great lady. We got to know all the players over the years and the owners. When they built the new stadium, they asked us to be the first ones through the turnstile. Baseball’s been so good to us.

We’ve been to New York three times for the playoffs and we’ve been to fantasy baseball camp in Port Charlotte, Fla. We donned uniforms and played baseball all day -- it was really fun. Talk about going back to your childhood! We’ve had a good life with baseball.

Q: How do you get to go to so many games?

A: God provides the tickets.

Q: Why do you love baseball?

A: It’s a good family sport. Texas has always been football country, but they’re kind of coming around now.

I need to get somebody to go with me. I don’t like to go by myself -- I like to have somebody to talk to, to share joys and sorrows with.

Q: I understand Sister Maggie Hession, 83, who has accompanied you to games for decades, was diagnosed with Alzheimer's.

A: Yes. She's at a nursing home. I'm visiting her now. Her room is all decorated in Texas Rangers décor. She has a spread on her bed and a pillow, a sham, it’s decorated with the Rangers emblem. Everything is in red, white and blue.

Q: I heard you tried to take her to a playoff game but it didn't go so well.

A: The noise level was too high -- so I don’t take her to the playoffs. I would love to, if she could remember. Her love of baseball was as strong as mine. Alzheimer’s is a horrible disease.

Q: Does she still remember you?

A: Yes, thank God she does. But you don’t get better with this darn stuff, you just get worse gradually.

Q: What will you do if the Rangers win tonight?

A: I’ll thank God for the win. It sounds crazy, but I do pray for our team, as well as lots of other things. I have a long list.

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Photo: Sister Frances Evans, left, with her best friend and baseball buddy Sister Maggie Hession, in Sister Maggie's nursing home room. Sister Maggie suffers from Alzheimer's disease and can no longer attend the games.  Credit: Lara Solt / Dallas Morning News

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