ARLINGTON -- Former team president Tom Schieffer was inducted to the Texas Rangers Hall of Fame on Saturday, fittingly in the ballpark he was such an integral part of building.
Schieffer and his wife, Susanne, rode on to the field at Globe Life Park from the left-field fence in a white Lexus, waving to the crowd before stopping just outside the third-base dugout. After being introduced by Rangers broadcaster Tom Grieve -- the club's general manager when Schieffer was working to open what was first known as The Ballpark in Arlington -- the former executive and diplomat was officially inducted into the Rangers Hall of Fame.
"Today I have received one of baseball's highest honors," Schieffer said. "For someone who had no arm, no speed and no power, being inducted into the Texas Rangers Hall of Fame is a pretty daunting event. To get here, you have to have a lot of luck and a lot of help. And I had an abundance of both."
Schieffer became the 17th member of the club's Hall of Fame and the sixth to be inducted in a non-playing capacity. He was a part of the ownership group led by George W. Bush and Rusty Rose that bought the team in 1989, and was tasked with the challenge of building the Rangers a new ballpark.
"More than any sport, love is handed down in baseball… for Tom Schieffer, this project was a true labor of love," Grieve said. "They selected the absolute perfect man for the job. His planning was meticulous and his attention to detail was remarkable… I can almost guarantee that his life's crowning achievement was building this magnificent ballpark."
Schieffer was named team president after securing funding for the ballpark through a 1991 bond election and The Ballpark in Arlington opened three years later. During his nine-year tenure, the Texas Rangers Baseball Foundation was created in 1992, the Rangers hosted the 1995 All-Star Game and they made their first ever postseason appearance by winning the AL West in 1996.
"This ballpark and this franchise will always have a special place in my heart," Schieffer said. "The ownership group I was a part of was a tremendous group with a common goal to build a model franchise on and off the field."
Born and raised in Fort Worth, Schieffer graduated from Arlington Heights High School in 1966 before obtaining bachelor's, master's and law degrees from the University of Texas at Austin. He also established himself as a distinguished diplomat, serving as the United States ambassador to Australia and Japan during Bush's presidency.
"I want to congratulate my dear friend Tom Schieffer for being inducted into the Texas Rangers Hall of Fame," Bush said in a video that played during the ceremony before Saturday's game. "Tom's a baseball fan, a loyal man and he sure knows how to build a ballpark."
Schieffer returned to baseball briefly when Commissioner Bud Selig appointed him to run the Dodgers in 2011 as the team went through an ownership dispute. When the team declared bankruptcy in June that year, Schieffer's time overseeing the Dodgers' operations was over after just two months. But Selig was grateful.
"He's one of the best executives I've ever known," said Selig, also via video. "One of my favorite people, as well as baseball executives. He just did a brilliant job… He has my undying gratitude and admiration and respect. Since he's come to help us at Major League Baseball, he's been tremendous."
Schieffer was also thankful for those who helped him along his baseball journey -- his family, Rangers fans, Arlington residents, the 200 full-time employees under him during his time as team president, the 2,300 part-time employees and the 5,500 people who helped design and construct the ballpark two decades ago.
"It was the most creative process I have ever known," said Schieffer, before referring to a plaque known to those working on the ballpark. "Part of the inscription said, 'When the many become one, all dreams can be fulfilled.' We were one when we built this ballpark."
Schieffer was especially appreciative to the game of baseball itself.
"Baseball can be magic. It can make a preacher cuss, an optimist cry and a pessimist believe," Schieffer said. "Baseball has been so good to me. I've loved it since I was a little boy throwing a rubber ball against a stone wall, pretending it was the seventh game of the World Series.
"There is a healing spirit in baseball that comes from the unwritten rules of the game. It is called respect," Schieffer continued. "You're expected to learn that and never, ever feel entitled to anything in baseball. If you do that, respect will follow. If you don't, respect will be lost. Respect can never be purchased with money, title or even talent. It must always be earned. There's not a better standard for a game or for life."
Christian Corona is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.