Two Denton ISD Graduates Win World Series Championship with Texas Rangers
If you aren’t watching closely during a Texas Rangers game at Globe Life Field, you may miss Jackson Weatherford and Joel Abrego. But if you ask either of the Denton ISD graduates, that is exactly how they like it.
Both Jackson and Joel are bat boys and members of the clubhouse staff, with Jackson serving in the Rangers’ clubhouse and Joel serving in the visitor’s clubhouse. As Jackson describes, the job is simple – make sure everyone on the team is taken care of every single day.
“It’s not about me, it’s about the team and the players,” said Jackson, who graduated from Guyer High School Wildcats in 2015. “My position is about doing anything the players might need and help them focus on playing the game that day.”
The behind-the-scenes job for Jackson and Joel starts hours before the first pitch of a game. If the game starts at 7 p.m., the duo typically arrives at the ballpark around 1 p.m. From there, they immediately spring into action, setting up the dugouts and laying out equipment, including bats, helmets and more.
But their work doesn’t stop there.
Jackson and Joel – who are both part of clubhouse staffs with roughly seven people – also refill coolers and ensure laundry is finished, and that is before they ever get dressed for the game. Once the game starts, their responsibilities completely shift to making sure players have the equipment they need on the field.
“I have to hustle and pay attention to the game,” Jackson said. “I also have to know what our guys need when they are on the bases. If this guy gets a hit, he needs this. If this guy strikes out, I have to be ready for the next guy. During the game, I’m not necessarily watching the game. I’m watching the players. I’m an extra set of hands making sure they have anything they need.”
Along with both being Denton ISD graduates, Jackson and Joel are also University of North Texas alumni. Jackson received his degree in sports management, while Joel received his degree in kinesiology.
While at UNT, they both worked with the Mean Green football team as part of the equipment staff. Joel, who is a 2016 graduate of Ryan High School, just finished his second season with the Rangers, while Jackson just completed his third season.
“It’s definitely been difficult, but I understand the belief in working hard and never stopping,” said Joel. “This reward at the end of the tunnel is something tangible to show for all the hard work. We were working football equipment, and now we’re working baseball equipment, doing laundry and taking care of the guys. Now, we get to say we did it for the World Series Champion Texas Rangers.”
Jackson recalled the expectation of winning a World Series this year was established seven months ago during Spring Training in Surprize, AZ. Rangers Executive Vice President and General Manager Chris Young called a meeting with every member of the organization that left a lasting impression on Jackson.
“I remember being in that meeting room and thinking, ‘I don’t think I should be in here. I’m just a bat boy and clubhouse staff,’” Jackson said. "But I’m sitting there, and he’s laying out the expectations for the organization and everyone. After that, I thought, ‘Give me a brick wall, C.Y., and I’ll run through it.’ Come to find out seven months later, that was the brick wall.”
When Rangers pitcher Josh Sborz struck out Ketel Marte on Wednesday night to clinch Texas’ first-ever World Series championship, Jackson and Joel each got to celebrate in different ways.
Jackson had traveled with the team to Phoenix and was part of the on-field festivities and even got to hold the coveted Commissioner's Trophy. Joel, meanwhile, was back home in Texas, celebrating the historic victory with his family.
“It’s a dream and surreal,” Joel said. “I don’t want to say it’s unbelievable because the goal is always to win the World Series. I’m just so proud of the team. It’s been an unbelievable experience and a lot of hard work.”
And learning how to work hard, according to Jackson, was a trait he learned in Denton ISD – a place that holds a special place in his heart.
“I’m born and raised in Denton, and I love where I am from,” Jackson said. “I’ve always wanted to represent Denton to the best of my ability. In my own way, I have always wanted to put Denton on the map and elevate Guyer. I wear Denton on my sleeve and Guyer on my sleeve, as well. The impact the town and school has had on me – I can’t even put into words.”