Rangers mourn traveling secretary Lyngos

Award-winning employee passed away on Nov. 22 at the age of 49

Rangers mourn traveling secretary Lyngos

ARLINGTON -- They filled a private club at Globe Life Park on Thursday to pay loving tribute to Chris Lyngos, the Rangers' popular and hard-working former traveling secretary who passed away on Nov. 22 at the age of 49.

Family and friends, club officials, members of the media and Rangers players -- past and present -- were there to remember their dear friend who had graduated from Stephen F. Austin and wandered from job to job trying to figure out what to do with his life.

Back in 1992, Chris and his sister, Lisa, sat down over pizza and beer and he decided what he wanted to do most was work in baseball. So they devised a plan on a napkin and -- through a college buddy -- Chris eventually got a job with Texas over a thousand other applicants.

Lyngos became the Rangers' traveling secretary in 1998, and he navigated the team across the country for 16 years through five postseason appearances, including two World Series. Arranging postseason travel is an incredible task, considering the multiple travel possibilities and spur-of-the-moment decisions involved for every round.

Rangers general manager Jon Daniels spoke about Lyngos' dedication and how his standard reply for every situation was, "I've got your back, bro." Former pitcher Darren Oliver spoke about the couch Lyngos had in his Spring Training office used by any player and club official needing a friend and a sympathetic ear.

Former bullpen catcher Ken Guthrie related the story of Lyngos going into the airport in a beat-up pickup truck to pick up George W. Bush, future President of the United States. Bush sent him a note expressing admiration for his choice of classic vehicles.

Many who had come to the service to offer their condolences to his wife, Lisa, son, Nathan, and daughter, Lindsay, also talked about Lyngos going above and beyond the call of duty in the days immediately after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

It is a story worth re-telling, because it was Lyngos' finest hour as a traveling secretary and anybody involved will remember it forever.

The Rangers were in the Bay Area, having lost to the Athletics on Monday, Sept. 10, and staying at the St. Francis Hotel in San Francisco. The schedule called for three games in Oakland and then on to Seattle on Thursday for four games with the Mariners. After that, they were back home in Arlington.

The attacks on Tuesday morning resulted immediately in the postponement of the remaining games against the A's, but there was still doubt about playing the Mariners on the weekend. Major League Baseball was undecided whether those games would be played or not.

The bigger doubt was how anybody was going to get anywhere because all commercial flights had been grounded indefinitely. Lyngos, staying in touch with the Commissioner's Office, lined up three buses and had them ready to go on Thursday outside the St. Francis while still awaiting word whether to head to Seattle or back to Texas.

Lyngos, then-GM Doug Melvin and player rep Rick Helling had all made it clear the media would be welcome to travel with the team, a tremendous consideration not offered by all other clubs. One team left its writers stranded halfway across the country, its GM citing insurance concerns for not letting the reporters travel with the team.

Complicating matters for the Rangers was the fact that hitting coach Rudy Jaramillo had a death in his family and needed to get back to Texas no matter what. But as of noon on Thursday, no decision had been made by MLB and Jaramillo went to the San Francisco bus station.

The Rangers' buses were loaded with nowhere to go, but there were bomb threats at the Golden Gate Bridge and the antsy people at the St. Francis made it clear the club needed to go somewhere.

So the Rangers departed just before getting word that the weekend games were off. There was time to swing by the San Francisco bus depot as manager Jerry Narron went flying off the bus and raced inside to grab Jaramillo.

The three buses -- two for players and one for everybody else -- then proceeded across the Bay Bridge, through the Oakland hills and the Altamont Pass and into the San Joaquin Valley for what was expected to be a 40-hour bus ride back to Arlington.

"All the guys, they didn't care how we got there, they just wanted to go home," Lyngos said in a 2011 interview with MLB.com.

So while everybody chatted quietly or stared out the window at the fertile agricultural landscape, Lyngos worked the phones trying to pull off a miracle and find some way to get the Rangers airborne.

"I was hammering all my airline contacts," Lyngos said. "I went through four cell phone batteries. You know, the cell phones weren't like they are today. Now I'd just text somebody."

Lyngos finally ran down a charter service that specialized in sports team and was one of the first companies to get clearance to fly. Arrangements were made to meet the team in Bakersfield, Calif.

Once there, the Rangers were loaded quickly on the plane and headed back to Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport, arriving with incredible relief and gratitude sometime around midnight.

In 2010, Lyngos was named Traveling Secretary of the Year. Those who remember the '01 Miracle in the San Joaquin Valley know the award was nine years late in coming.

T.R. Sullivan has covered the Rangers since 1989, and for MLB.com since 2006. Follow him on Twitter @Sullivan_Ranger and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.