ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) — The days of sitting in the cheap seats are long gone for former President George W. Bush.
"I used to do that," Bush said. "It's probably not practical."
When Bush attends Texas Rangers games now, he can sit in a suite named after him.
The owner's suite at Rangers Ballpark was renamed Thursday in honor of Bush, who was the managing general partner of the Rangers from 1989-94. That was before he was elected governor of Texas and later as the 43rd U.S. president.
It was during the time Bush was involved with the team's ownership that Rangers Ballpark was designed and built.
"I'm glad he's home and reconnected with the team," Rangers owner Tom Hicks said.
The ceremony was held before the Rangers and Houston Astros played the finale of a three-game interleague series. Bush's father, the 41st president of the United States, lives in Houston and regularly attends Astros games, though the elder Bush wasn't on hand Thursday night.
Bush was presented a red No. 43 Rangers jersey with his name inscribed on the back. He posed for pictures at the suite entrance with Hicks, Astros owner Drayton McLane and Rangers team president Nolan Ryan.
The fans gave Bush a loud ovation when he was introduced in the middle of the second inning and shown inside the suite on the giant video screen. When the former president realized what was happening, he walked to the outdoor seats attached to the suite and waved to the crowd.
After the completion of his second term in the White House earlier this year, Bush moved to Dallas. His first big appearance locally was throwing out the first pitch at the Rangers' home opener April 6, the last time he was at the ballpark until Thursday night.
"I was thinking about our time in baseball as I was driving down the turnpike to get here. It was kind of a nostalgic trip. ... It brought back a lot of fond memories," Bush said. "We are looking forward to coming to the games."
Bush said he always tells people going to baseball games to "make sure you come with somebody you like because you're going to have plenty of time to visit."
The former president said he brought somebody he loves, wife Laura, and looked forward to visiting with her during the game.
While the Rangers are for sale again, reporters weren't given the opportunity to ask questions and that subject was never addressed by Bush. At the conclusion of the brief ceremony, Bush disappeared into the suite.
Hicks, who in 1998 bought the team from the ownership group Bush had been involved with, said last month that he is willing to give up control of the Rangers if the right deal comes along. Hicks intends to keep NHL's Dallas Stars.
The Rangers owner had previously said he was seeking minority investors to purchase up to 49 percent in each club. Then the holding company that owns the teams defaulted on about $525 million in loans, though Hicks said that was an intentional move to help negotiate with banks.
Copyright 2009 The Associated Press.
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