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Bring your mom to work; Slidell mother/son duo team up for the Rangers

By Racey Burden | Published Saturday, May 13, 2017
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Play Ball 2

PLAY BALL – Jake Dunlap has been obsessed with baseball since sixth grade, as evidenced by his massive collection of memorabilia. Last fall Jake started working for the Texas Rangers Baseball Foundation, and now his mom Kim works with him. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

Baseball completely dominates Jake Dunlap’s room.

There are pennants hanging along the walls, souvenir cups lining the top of a shelf, a signed jersey on the bed and a game playing on TV in the background. A lot of the memorabilia is Texas Rangers related, but not because they’re his favorite team. No, that honor belongs first to the Boston Red Sox, followed closely by the Chicago Cubs.

Jake works for the Rangers, and now, so does his mom, Kim.

It didn’t start as a family affair. Baseball, and sports in general, are Jake’s passion.

FAMILY MATTERS – Kim and Jake Dunlap of Slidell work together selling raffle tickets for the Texas Rangers Baseball Foundation. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

“I first started really getting into it in sixth grade,” Jake said. “I like the excitement of the fans when good things happen. You never know what to expect when you go to a game.”

Jake started selling 50/50 raffle tickets for the Texas Rangers Baseball Foundation last year, placing him in a great position to see fan reactions firsthand. Because he has a visual impairment, Jake can’t drive the 60 miles to the ballpark for home games, so Kim started driving him whenever she wasn’t working at Slidell ISD.

“I would take a book and read and people watch and watch the games,” Kim said. Whenever she or Jake’s dad weren’t available to drive, “we had to call on our village” of friends and neighbors to provide a ride, giving them tickets to the game. During the playoffs, that posed an even greater challenge because there were so few tickets available.

When Kim retired, she decided she might as well work for the Foundation, too, since she was going to all these games anyway. And so the Dunlaps started working together at the ballpark, both selling raffle tickets and promoting the Foundation, which is the Ranger’s non-profit arm. Jake was even put in charge of Kim’s training.

“It was … interesting,” Jake said, after a pause to consider which adjective would best describe teaching his mother.

“He’s much more tech-y than I am,” Kim said with a laugh. “He gets all that stuff.”

Although they don’t actually work together at the ballpark very much, getting assigned to separate areas to sell tickets, they do get to spend the long drive to Arlington talking, scouting out shorter routes and trying to avoid traffic jams. Once at the stadium they go sell in their assigned sections, then get back together for the drive home.

Though Jake’s more into the sport side – he studies stats and follows players from other teams in his spare time – they both enjoy the personable side of their jobs.

“I like being around people, being able to promote the Foundation’s efforts,” Jake said.

“You meet a lot of people,” Kim added, mentioning all the fans they see who’ve traveled from afar to follow their teams. “It’s a great conversation starter.”

Baseball has worked its way into their vacation time, as well. The Dunlap family has a goal to see every Major League stadium in the U.S. – and the one in Toronto, which Jake is the most excited about because it’s the only stadium with a built-in hotel. They’ve traveled across the country, from Fenway to Petco Park, collecting pennants and souvenir cups and stopping at AA and AAA stadiums along the way.

And Kim and Jake don’t just spend time in the car together for baseball – she also drove him to his college classes at the University of North Texas until he graduated last May.

“What I did was just drive him to classes,” she said. “We were the wheels. He had to do the rest himself.”

Though they enjoy their time together, and Jake’s especially good at his job – he’s a high-seller with more than 50,000 individual sells, which has earned him several prizes – Jake’s not sure if he’ll keep working for the Rangers. He hopes to find a full-time job that still allows him to work in the sports industry.

“That’s my passion,” he said.

And whatever comes next in life, he knows he’ll have his mom’s full support.

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