DALLAS—Sought-after free agent pitcher Roy Oswalt said he was "flattered and impressed" by the effort the Texas Rangers made in trying to sign him this week, but admitted he had no idea why the team made such a point of emphasizing the abundant, diverse, and thriving gay nightlife in Dallas.
"I know it's traditional to tell a guy exactly how great the team is, and what a great city it is, and stuff like that," said Oswalt, who returned to his home in Houston Thursday night after what he called a "stressful whirlwind tour" of the Rangers facilities and the city of Dallas proper. "And they did that, showed me around, but kept saying how Dallas had all kinds of people, and how they were pretty accepting, and no one was going to judge me, especially because I'd be a star there. I wasn't really sure what the big idea was at first."
According to Oswalt, despite the "kind of weird" nature of the conversation, his visit started much as any recruiting visit might. The former Astros and Phillies ace was met at the airport by team officials, including current manager Ron Washington and GM Jon Daniels, as well as two handsome, clean-cut young men who identified themselves only as "Tex" and "Kevin."
A visit to the Ballpark in Arlington followed, during which Washington and Daniels espoused the benefits of living in an "exciting and open-minded" town such as Dallas, and Tex and Kevin repeatedly asked to see his arm, praised its muscularity, and offered to rub it or ice it down if needed.
"Then," Oswalt said, "oh, God, then they took me out on the town."
The Rangers reportedly had prepared a tour of Dallas nightlife they thought would prove irresistible to Oswalt, taking him to a series of "cowboy bars" and "denim clubs" they had evidently decided would appeal to his rural, working-class tastes.
"I know it's traditional to buy a guy a steak and show him a good time, but, uh, that was—well, it was real different," said Oswalt, who admitted "everyone was real nice and everything" the entire time. "The food at the Havana Lounge was great, I like Cuban and all, but they… It really wasn't my kind of place. And then they took me to this place called Zippers, and that wasn't my kind of place at all."
"Not at all," Oswalt added.
After determining Oswalt was in fact highly uncomfortable in the loud, humid, smoke-filled men-only strip club, Daniels and Kevin decided to take him to "someplace a little more laid back."
After Oswalt repeatedly said he "only wanted to sit down with a beer and hear some music," the group wound up at the Round-Up Saloon, a large, friendly place considered Dallas' best gay music bar.
"Daniels kept saying that money wasn't a problem, that I'd fit in real well with their rotation, and that Dallas was like Houston, but with better restaurants and a little bit more leather," Oswalt said. "I was like, Man, I've been married to my high school sweetheart all my life. Do you understand what I'm saying?"
Daniels responded by taking Oswalt to Sue Ellen's, considered one of the best lesbian bars in Texas, and asking the pitcher if that was the sort of thing his wife had in mind.
At press time, the Rangers and Cardinals are considered the frontrunners to sign Oswalt, who is expected to command an annual salary in the range of $8 million to $10 million. Oswalt is also reportedly considering a deal with the Baltimore Orioles, who have invited the right-hander to come tour Camden Yards and the city's burgeoning S&M scene.