Growing up in Texarkana, all Craig Monroe cared about was sports, in particular baseball. A standout in almost any type of physical activity, Monroe eventually had to choose between football and baseball, however, getting picked up by the Texas Rangers organization made the decision pretty easy.
Monroe graduated from Texas Senior High 1985, “I decided I was going to do everything in my power to get myself a chance to be professional baseball player,” Monroe recalls while sitting in the corner booth of his new Plano sports bar, Twenty7, the number he wore in seven seasons as an outfielder for the Detroit Tigers,“I started in the minors in Tulsa as part of the Texas Rangers organization. I decided very early I was going to work harder and try harder than anyone else and I got a chance to play for my hometown team in the Texas Rangers.”
While bumped up to AAA Oklahoma City when he got the call to come to Dallas after Ruben Sierra was put on the injured list, Craig explains, “I was up with the Rangers for three months, but at the end of the season they needed a roster spot for a pitcher and I was put on waivers.” Monroe smiles with a professional athlete’s confidence earned in ‘The Show,’ “I don’t think I was on waivers for more than a day when the Detroit Tigers called and I was on the way to join them.”
As a hard-hitting outfielder, Monroe earned a spot in the starting lineup and even made the trek every kid with a bat dreams of: competing in the 2006 World Series. Grins Craig, “I’m actually very proud that I managed to tie Hank Greenberg for most home runs by a Tiger in a world series.”
As his career began to wind down, he was traded to Chicago and then the Pirates. In the end, Craig had to find a life after baseball. Now a full time resident of Frisco, he’s teamed up with some other industry veterans to create Twenty7, a baseball themed sports bar with quality food usually expected to be found at a higher-end Gastro-Pub.
The food, which is really quite amazing, comes courtesy of Jonny Weisman, formerly the kitchen wizard at The Rugby House. Jonny has been making a name for himself since moving to the Dallas area a few years ago as one of the best pup chefs in the area.
On the menu Weisman has created a number of unique dishes to augment the high quality traditional fresh cut fish and chips and burgers. Case in point: A mango-based bruchetta adorned with fresh mozzarella which is wrapped in panchetta and topped with a lime-infused mango salsa that makes for a wonderfully light, bright and extremely tasty appetizer. “We wanted to put together a menu, right off the bat, that has some light items as well as the traditional bar offerings,” Weisman explains. He’s also reached into his bag of tricks to create a Cuban fried rice served as a side and as the base of the Taco del Mar Fish Tacos.
Weisman also brings his deft touch to spare ribs that should have a warning label on them: After one bite, the slow cooked meat literally leaps off the bone, so make sure you lean over the plate and adorn your lap with a napkin. Rounding off the delights I experienced were lightly battered fresh cut haddock and multi cheese mac’n’cheese that was so sinfully rich, it darn near gave me heart palpatations.
The bar itself is decorated with some of Craig’s own memorabilia from his years with the Tigers and other items from friends and other famous players. The uniform worn by the young ladies working at the bar is a sexy variation of the “ball girl” uniform.
Taking the Sport-Bar+Gastro-Pub mixture, adding in a pinch of “breastaurant” with the sexy outfits, and rounding it out with an additional side of non stop high-def televisions might just prove to be a winning combination.
Twenty7 also sports – no pun intended – another section originally meant to be a small ultra-lounge attached to the bar. However, the plan has been modified to bring more of a game room lounge to the location. “We just think this will work better in this location, we want to expand on our theme and business center rather than trying to do the ultra lounge in Plano,” explains GM James Brown.
The official grand opening kicks off August 27th. Craig admits he’s a little nervous, “My whole life has been about hitting, running and throwing. This is the first real job I’ve ever had.” His smile is rather electric and the anticipation of getting this bar off the ground is something that is really energizing him,“I really hope this is the first one…” he smiles with confidence again knowing the premise, if successful could be the foundation of a multi location business.
3100 Independence Parkway Ste 299
Plano Texas 75075
Major league baseball season is getting ready for what some say is the most exciting time of the year – the playoffs and World Series. And, although no Texas teams are in contention this year, Texas will be represented on the field – on some of the players’ hands. Many of their gloves are made right here in the Lone Star State at a little factory in the Far North Central part of the state in a little company town called Nocona.
I decided to go and see how the gloves are made at the Nokona Athletic Goods Company. The factory gives free tours and it’s a good idea to call ahead to tell them you are on the way. My tour guide, Nellann McBroom, was very knowledgeable about the process. I learned more about how gloves are made and about the materials used to make the special gloves. Different hides are used to make the different parts of some of the gloves – kangaroo, buffalo as well as the usual cowhide. And, each hide has a different thickness and pliability.
On the tour you actually meet and talk to the people who make the gloves. There’s Mike who does the first inspection, Doris who sews the special order gloves and Jason who mans the machine that breaks in each glove.
What you really learn is that the workers are a family – a family that was struck by tragedy just three years ago – July 18, 2006 – when the factory burned to the ground. Nellann said that luckily the dies were locked in a flame proof safe and were saved, along with some WWII era wagons. Amazingly the company was able to start production ten days later in a nearby abandoned boot factory. The first glove made at the boot factory was given to then New York Yankee manager Joe Torre – as they both represented grit and determination after a tragedy.
The company was started by a local banker in 1926 originally to make purses. When the economy crashed, so did the purse business – people didn’t have money to buy purses. So, the company retooled and began making sporting goods. Besides gloves, the company also makes baseball bats and football helmets and pads.
Nokona Athletic Goods Factory
105 Clay Street