Put a pitch in Texas slugger Ian Kinsler's wheelhouse and the ball's next stop may be the outfield bleachers. History shows he feasts on fastballs and changeups.
Good info for opposing pitchers, but Shirley Kost has her own scouting report on the two-time All-Star's sweet spot.
"Snickerdoodles are Ian Kinsler's favorite," Shirley says of the sugar cookies rolled in cinnamon sugar.
"I also put a special flavoring in mine and make them chewy," she says. "That's why they seem to be a hit.
Shirley, 72, knows cookies. Since 2000 she has baked tens of thousands for Rangers players, staff, and fans. This year alone the season-ticket holder has toted more than 4,000 cookies to home games at the Rangers Ballpark in Arlington.
It's no wonder the Rangers have coined the grandma groupie gone wild as "The Cookie Lady."
"I guess it's my thing," she says. "I get more out of it than the people who get the cookies. It's gratifying to hopefully make somebody else happy."
But she never meant to start a cookie crusade.
Shirley and her husband, Cal, are avid baseball fans (a room in their home has 863 autographed balls and other memorabilia) who plan vacations to Rangers road games. They were at Spring Training in 2000 when Rangers pitcher John Wetteland asked a group of fans if anyone wanted a ride on his Harley. Shirley shot her hand in the air.
"I had never thought about being on a motorcycle," says the longtime homemaker and mom. "It was fun, a nice little trip."
Cal (an usher at Rangers ballpark) suggested his wife thank Wetteland with a plate of cookies. Thus, "The Cookie Lady" was born. Shirley, who has been baking since her 4-H days as a child, began regular deliveries to the Rangers clubhouse and is even known to surprise players at road games.
"She's definitely a big fan. I think it's nice that she takes time to do it," Kinsler says. It makes for a small-town feel. It's kind of like playing for a summer league team when a family would cook for us."
Shirley has her specialties (like Kinsler's Snickerdoodles), but she has also whipped up more than 40 varieties of cookies through the years.
"When Marlon Byrd was here, he liked oatmeal with chocolate chips and walnuts."
At a recent home game, Shirley arrives more than two hours before the first pitch to deliver two plates of cookies to Rangers TV broadcasters Tom Grieve and Dave Barnett. She has spent the afternoon making Grieve's favorite, pineapple-pecan with caramel icing.
Several years ago, Grieve thanked "The Cookie Lady" during a game broadcast. The move touched off a tidal wave of treats from Rangers fans across Texas. Now few nights go by without Grieve giving shouts out to folks who send the announcers items ranging from brownies to homemade jams to chocolate-covered bacon.
"A lady sent up a sopapilla cheesecake a couple of years ago," he recalls fondly. "Everybody who had some said, 'Wow!'"
But Grieve's usual third-inning banter isn't loved by all listeners. Web message boards are full of rants about Grieve and his goodies.
"Tonight I'm shutting you down ... and if this continues ... it won't be the last time," wrote a blog commenter. "This is now my dogma. I'm jihad about this crap."
Grieve recalls giving a speech to a group of 200 Rotarians. At the end of his speech, he opened the floor to questions. The first one was a zinger.
"Do you really think we care what you eat during the game?" the man barked.
The former major leaguer had to bite his tongue before explaining that many of the dishes come from 80-year-old ladies who watch every inning of every game, and despite being shut in, find a way to get their offerings couriered to the ballpark.
"How can you not recognize those people?" he says. "It gives them a chance to be a part of the team and be a part of the broadcast. It only takes 30 seconds to a minute. The benefit and joy they get out of hearing their name is worth that small effort."
It's something Grieve tries to remind listeners about three or four times a season.
"But then I say, 'Don't blame me, blame Shirley, she started it.'"
"The Cookie Lady" considers it a badge of honor.
"They don't have to listen to it," she says of the treat tiff. "They can turn it on mute."
No one at Rangers ballpark is about to cut off "The Cookie Lady."
Before the game's first pitch, fans are starting to belly up to Shirley's seat on the first base side.
"I'm here to try the famous ones tonight," Mitch Morrow says.
He takes a bite and exclaims, "That’s the one!"
"I tell all my friends that I sit next to The Cookie Lady," Morrow says. "Her gumdrop cookies are spectacular."
Word that it's a pineapple-pecan night spreads quickly in the press box. Writers abandon their box scores when a TV anchor hauls in a sampling during the bottom of the second.
"You haven't had her good stuff," a veteran reporter tells a younger guy. "Mench's Munchies are still the best."
Peanut butter sandwiched between two Ritz crackers and dipped in melted chocolate almond bar. Former Rangers outfielder Kevin Mench loved them so much that Shirley named them for him.
He thanked her with several bats, including one in which he wrote on the barrel, "Thanks for the Cookies."
"It made my day," she says. "I just always thought he was the neatest guy."
The Rangers made Shirley their 2006 Fan of the Year and presented her with a KitchenAid Artisan stand mixer.
"It’s in Ranger blue," she says. "I love it. I probably wouldn't make as many without it."
Still, some nights she wonders if she's brought enough. Inning after inning, a steady stream of cookie monsters strolls by her seat ... beer vendors, fans, club executives, security guards and even the team mascot -- a horse who doesn’t speak.
"He puts them in his pocket," she says proudly, "and eats them later."
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