POPPY AT THE BAT

SPORTS When President George Bush wasn’t able to attend his honorary induction into the Texas Baseball Hall of Fame last fall. Hall of Fame Chairman of the Board George schepps took matters in hand, making arrangements to induct Bush in Washington this past spring. “He was busy with the Panama and Honduras things last November,” explains Schepps, who at 91 carries on vigorously as the patriarch of Texas baseball. “GEORGE BUSH JR. [Rangers majority owner] told me who to call in the White House to get the ap-pointment.”

Few are more qualified to make such a presentation than Schepps, of the Schepps dairy family, who started his baseball life as a bat boy for the Dallas Giants in 1909, began buying stock in the team at age 21, and later owned the franchise. Nor are there many as likely to take complete charge of an audience with the president of the United States.

“We did the ceremony right in the Oval Office,” Schepps explains. “My wife was standing behind him with the Hall of Fame coat I had ordered for him. So halfway through the ceremony he starts to take his jacket off, and I tell him, ’Not yet!’

“I read the scouting report on him from when he was a first baseman at Yale,” Schepps says of the president. “Aggressive. Good hitter, and might have made the majors but he couldn’t hit the curve. So I gave him a bat and told him to take his regular swing. I said, ’You’re not striding. Your butt is dropping and you’ll hit nothing but pop-ups.’” The response from the leader of the free world? “You’re right.”

“One of the things I took for him was a Rangers jersey with ’Bush’ and number ’1’ on it,” says Schepps. “You would have thought it was his first toy.”

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