Longtime Rangers employee Macko dies at 86

Former equipment manager had been with organization since 1971

Longtime Rangers employee Macko dies at 86

ARLINGTON -- Joe Macko, who had been associated with the Rangers since their arrival from Washington, D.C., in 1971 and was one of the most beloved members of the Texas baseball community, passed away on Friday morning. He was 86.

Macko, a former Minor League player who was Lou Brock's first professional baseball manager, was the Rangers' business manager in 1972 -- their first year in Arlington. The next season, he became the clubhouse/equipment manager and served in that role for 21 years until moving over to the visitors' clubhouse.

"Joe was the first guy I met when we came to Texas in 1971," former Rangers outfielder and general manager Tom Grieve said. "He was the guy that if any of us had any questions, where to buy insurance, where to buy a car, where the best restaurants were, Joe was the guy to ask.

"He was the first face you saw when you went into the clubhouse, he was always positive, always in a good mood, ready to make you feel good. There are very few people who didn't know Joe Macko and you would really have to dig deep to find somebody who knew him and didn't like him."

After retiring in 2000, Macko served as an ambassador and Rangers representative to the community, giving speeches and telling stories at schools and civic functions.

"He was just a wonderful, kind man," former Rangers catcher Jim Sundberg said. "He cared about the guys he served as clubhouse manager. He had a kind, loving family. He will be missed. His big hands, all his rings, his big bat ... he really took care of rookies when we broke into the big leagues, helped make it a softer transition.

"He loved the Rangers, he was an ambassador to the Rangers. He loved the Rangers and he loved his family."

The Rangers paid tribute to him this past season with a plaque in the service concourse at Globe Life Park, halfway between the home and visitors' clubhouses.

"The Rangers organization is deeply saddened by today's passing of Joe Macko," the club said in a statement. "Joe was a loyal and dedicated member of this franchise for more than four decades as the team's business manager, home and visiting clubhouse manager, and goodwill ambassador. Joe made hundreds of players feel at home in the home and visiting clubhouses at old Arlington Stadium and the current Globe Life Park in Arlington.

"In his later years, Joe made numerous public appearances on behalf of the team, and he was the ultimate goodwill ambassador. He spent more than 40 years promoting the Texas Rangers, and we will always be indebted for his exemplary service to the organization."

Macko was born in Port Clinton, Ohio, on Feb. 19, 1928. After one year of college, he signed with the Indians and began an 18-year Minor League career in 1948 at Batavia in the Class D Pennsylvania-Ontario-New York League. Macko never reached the Major Leagues, but Minor League records show he had 306 career home runs, with a high of 37 in 1956 for San Diego and Dallas.

Macko, who was famous for having huge hands, played mainly first and third base during his Minor League career, but he also pitched in 37 games. He also had three stints as a manager, with Tulsa in 1955, St. Cloud in '61 and Amarillo in '63. He was a player-manager at all three stops.

It was at St. Cloud that he managed Brock, who had just signed with the Cubs. Brock had a great first season, winning the Northern League batting title with a .361 batting average along with 117 runs scored and 38 stolen bases. It was Brock's only Minor League season. Macko's 1955 team in Tulsa included outfielder Roger Maris.

After his career was over, Macko and his wife, Dorothy, made their home in the Dallas-Fort Worth area along with their four children. Macko served as the general manager of the Dallas-Fort Worth Spurs team before the Rangers arrived.

Macko also once owned a bar near Arlington Stadium called Smackos that was a major baseball hangout for many years. He was as well known in the community as any player who ever wore the Rangers uniform.

"He knew so many people in the area," his son Mike said. "It was amazing, every time somebody heard my name, they asked me if we were related."

Macko's son Steve was a star player at Baylor who was taken by the Cubs in the fifth round of the 1977 First-Year Player Draft. He played for the Cubs in 1979 and '80 before passing away on Nov. 15, 1981, because of cancer. Joe and Dorothy Macko established a number of scholarships in Steve's honor. The Steve Macko Scholarship Fund has long been a major charitable focus for the local baseball community.

Dorothy passed away in August 2007. Macko is survived by his three children: Mike and his wife, Brooke, of Arlington; Karen and her husband, Josh Wells, who live in Belize; and Linda and her husband, Chris Eadler, of Salt Lake City. Funeral services are pending.

T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Postcards from Elysian Fields, and follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.