When he throws out the ceremonial first pitch Tuesday night at Globe Life Park in Arlington, Chester Hollingsworth will be two weeks shy of his 100th birthday. And he'll also be closer to considering retirement, for the second time.
Hollingsworth, a WWII veteran who joined the Navy the day after the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941, enjoyed a successful career in the carpet and flooring business, helping begin S&H Distributing in Dallas with business partner John Stacy. But after his first retirement and an overseas mission trip, he got restless.
"I said, 'John I gotta go to work. I'm gonna go crazy. He said, 'Come in. We'll get you a desk and a chair and go to work,'" Hollingsworth said.
And so, two days a week, he does go to work at the S&H Distributing showroom and warehouse in Dallas checking and changing prices on floor samples. And on Tuesday, he did it with his baseball glove and his #99 (his current age) jersey next to his desk.
Both he and his business partners are life-long Texas Rangers fans with season tickets since the Arlington ballpark opened in 1994. Hollingsworth has been honored at Rangers games before. But Tuesday night, with Stacy and with his own 9-year-old twin grandchildren by his side on the mound, Chester Hollingsworth will throw out the first pitch.
"I feel very thankful," Hollingsworth said. "I just hope I deliver it. I'm just afraid of where it's gonna go," he laughed. "I thought I might stand there and kind of wave off the first couple, then give them the OK before I throw it," he joked. "Kind of bleed it a little bit."
"I think I was more excited about it than he was," John Stacy said. "It's been an honor for him to be here all these years. And I hope he changes his mind and doesn't quit," he said of Chester's pending second retirement. "I think he could go another three or four years."
As for the secret to nearly 100 years, Chester doesn't drink. He doesn't smoke. But he does have a particular breakfast.
"Oh, it's a chocolate covered donut," he said. "Chocolate donuts. Heavy on the chocolate donuts."
And Tuesday night on the mound in Arlington, he'll put that fuel and youthful energy to work. As for retirement, his co-workers and his church are planning birthday celebrations early next month. He'll make his decision after that.
But a change-up is always possible in that decision too.
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