Few Americans are on the road more than the manager of a major league baseball team. But Buck Showalter, the Orioles' famously persevering manager, rarely stays put even in the offseason, when he's canvassing the country for new talent. After all, being stagnant would never have earned him two American League Manager of the Year awards or helped him turn around the Orioles' 14-year stretch of losing seasons.
His most recent motivator? "When we [the Orioles] were leaking a little oil in mid-season (2012) I said to myself "Gosh, I've got a daughter in law school, a son in undergrad and a wedding. ... We need to make the playoffs!"
Along with a house in Baltimore County, Showalter retains his family home in Dallas, near his children's universities. But when we asked him earlier this year to provide some tips for visiting Dallas, he stunned us by revealing that he couldn't be much help. Showalter says he prefers family dinners in the dining room to restaurants, his own bed to hotels, and tending his rose garden to sightseeing.
Nonetheless, here's what this well-seasoned celebrity traveler had to say about the Big D.
Seven years. Of course we moved there when I took the manager job with the Texas Rangers. My kids feel like they grew up there.
What made you want to to retain a residence in Dallas after joining the Orioles?
My family. My daughter is in law school at Southern Methodist University in Dallas and my son is a junior at Texas Christian University in Fort Worth. When we moved to Texas with the Rangers, I promised them we would stay so they could have some stability during this important time in their lives. My daughter [got] married Feb. 2. I was flying to Dallas each week from Baltimore just for dance lessons for the wedding! It isn't an issue because there are plenty of direct flights in and out of here (Dallas), but now I do live in Baltimore about nine months out of the year.
Which airline do you prefer to travel between the two cities?
American. Dallas is a hub, and I'm a big nonstop fan.
I wouldn't say that. I drove to the ballpark and back. Because this job is seven days a week and often on the road, when my wife and I are together, we eat at home. I couldn't tell you more than two or three restaurants in Dallas or Baltimore!
When you do go out, do you have one favorite restaurant?
That doesn't have a drive-through? (Laughs). Well, I can tell you where to eat at the airport (more chuckles). OK, in Dallas there's a restaurant that used to be Houston's but it's called something else now — Hillstone. When I do have to eat out, I like the chains, somewhere where I know the menu; it's simple, clean and very consistent.
Where do you take out-of-towners when they visit?
There's a golf course, Texas National [now a public course]. It's only golf; they have a few cabins and a nice eating space [a grill and snack bar]. It's really beautiful. A lot of people are surprised to see how much greenery is around Dallas — and some hills, not the way most people think of Texas. There's a lot of elevation, a lot of trees – and a lot of water around [in the form of lakes and creeks].
Do you play golf often?
Well, this year I had knee surgery, but I like to play there. I also like to go fishing on the lake at the back of the golf course. I would do it a lot more if I had the time, but I don't. It's mostly freshwater fish. You know, we've got a great little pond behind our practice field at spring training.
I'd have to say they really do up Christmas here. We took the horse-drawn carriage ride [Highland Park Christmas Carriage Tours] just to see the decorations around the neighborhood. You couldn't fathom the displays here! There are merry-go-rounds [light structures] in the yards, interactive pieces … it's really nice. It's a nice time of year too, before it gets too hot. It only snows here once or twice a year; this year it was on Christmas Day.
Surely you've been to some sporting events in the region? After all, Dallas has some pretty prominent professional teams.
I have not been to most of the sports arenas in the area. They're mostly in Arlington, which is half an hour away in between Dallas and Fort Worth.
What about the arts scene?
There are incredible museums and theater — a lot of that stuff. You name it, Dallas has it. This city really likes to be cutting edge or state of the art. Dallas is a very worldly city, too. A lot of progressive businesses, like fashion and technology. Keep in mind that Texas is more of a republic than a state. Recently they had a petition about [the state of Texas] seceding, and I heard about 30 percent of the people voted for secession! It's a very independent place.
The fashion scene is very prominent in Dallas. That must be a nice perk for your daughter and your wife.
Well, we try to keep a grip on reality. We all tend to gravitate toward Target. My idea of a great Saturday is walking around Target with popcorn and an iced tea.
What about active-adventure stuff? Does your son like to watch the rodeos and cattle drives?
Well, he does see a bit of that in Fort Worth — a great town! You know, Fort Worth is to Dallas what Tucson is to Phoenix.
When you have guests visit, which hotel do you recommend?
Hmm. Well, we did make a list for people attending the wedding [calls to his wife]. "Which hotels did you put on that list?" ... Two: We suggested the [Rosewood] Crescent and the Warwick Melrose. The Magnolia Hotel is a beautiful boutique hotel downtown; I wouldn't go, but a lot of people like it. I'd stay at the Motel 6.