Just keep livin' in fast forward
Talk about a surprise leadoff. In an unannounced addition to the lineup at the Texas Rangers' 2023 TEX Gala, Matthew McConaughey took the stage to champion the baseball club's charitable foundation and introduce headliner Kenny Chesney.
The Texas Rangers Baseball Foundation' third annual gala took place Thursday, April 20 at Globe Life Field in Arlington. Safely under the closed roof on a slightly rainy night, patrons enjoyed a VIP cocktail reception, dinner, auctions, and presentations before settling in for a show by the eight-time Entertainer of the Year.
Then, a curveball. The evening’s emcee and Rangers radio broadcaster Matt Hicks tapped in Rangers first baseman Nathaniel Lowe to help introduce a surprise guest - McConaughey.
“Alright, alright, alright," McConaughey started. And the crowd went wild.
"I wanna thank the Texas Rangers Foundation,” McConaughey told the crowd of 1,300. “They’ve been a great partner with me and my wife’s foundation, the Just Keep Livin Foundation, for years. They were actually the first partners that we took on, the first people to partner with us over 10 year ago. We’ve had a partnership for that long and we’re gonna keep on going, so I want to say thank you to them.”
Then he introduced Chesney, whom he called a friend.
"So this next guy I'm going to introduce is many things. He's a poet, some of y'all know that. He's also a pirate, yes we know that. He's a hell of a performer, we know that. He sold out tons of records, he's played in plenty of stadiums. But the reason I'm up here to introduce him tonight is because he's also someone I call a friend. Someone that my family can call a friend," he said.
"He's also supported our foundation for years," McConaughey added. "There's been many times where I was in a pinch and gave him a call and he was like, 'What do you need from me? I'll be there,' and he came."
He ended with a little mischievous tease. "He's also someone that I've had damn good time chasing some sunrises with until the early morning hours," McConaughey said. "And if you get a chance, ask him what happens when a bee stings the backside of the bull. Ladies and gentlemen, Kenny Chesney..."
Chesney brought the house down with a set of his biggest hits, adding to the "beach at the ballpark" vibe of the event.
Earlier that evening, guests enjoyed casino games and drinks in a cocktail hour, a three-course meal, rousing game of "Heads of Tails," and silent and live auctions. Up for grabs were home run-worthy packages including a collection of autographed sports memorabilia from athletes like Patrick Mahomes, Luka Dončić, and Aaron Judge; an assortment of signed Hollywood and music memorabilia; trips to the Kentucky Bourbon Trail and to NYC to watch the Rangers play the Mets; a Hurtado BBQ masterclass; and a surprise last-minute item - a signed Kenny Chesney guitar.
Another surprise thrill for fans: Texas Rangers players and coaches joined guests on-field for the first time this year. Notable attendees included players, personnel, and their dates: Travis & Lindsay Jankowski, Jonah & Kenzie Heim, Jon & Jacklyn Gray, Josh Jung & Kyla Navarette, Tori & Cole Ragans, Brad & Rossi Miller, Marcus & Tarah Semien, Amanda Sedley & Robbie Grossman, Mitch & Sarah Garver, Josh & Alexis Sborz, Dane & Rachel Dunning, Brett & Haley Martin, Andrew & Jordan Heaney, Corey & Mady Seager, Nathaniel Lowe & Brenna Karwich, Ivan "Pudge" Rodriguez, Neil Liebman, Martin Perez, Jonathan Hernandez, and Jose Leclerc.
After a full night, attendees didn't go home hungry or empty handed; as they exited Globe Life Field, they were handed Whataburger hamburgers.
In total, the 2023 TEX Gala raised a record $2 million for the Rangers Foundation's mission to improve the lives of children, military, first responders, and their families around North Texas and beyond.