CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa - He was highly conspicuous on the Veterans Memorial Stadium concourse with his cowboy hat and boots, long-sleeved striped shirt and state of Texas belt.
The blue and white roses he was carrying made him stand out even more. Forgive Jim Ward, though. This night was a dream come true.
'I've wanted to see these girls for 40 years,' Ward said, with a gleam in his eye.
The 62-year-old made the hour drive from Center Junction to watch the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders perform during last night's Cedar Rapids Kernels-Kane County game. Kane County won, 2-1.
He's seen them countless times on television, but this was live and in person. And it was priceless.
'They've always kind of reminded me of the old fashioned cowboys and cowgirls in the old westerns,' Ward said. 'Cheerleaders' uniforms were all the same, but these girls were different. Let's put it this way. I always watched the Cowboys to watch the cheerleaders.' There were a lot of folks wearing Cowboys gear on NFL Night at the ballpark. You'd see a few other teams sprinkled in here or there, but this was a Dallas crowd. Or a Dallas cheerleaders crowd.
'People always ask me who my favorite team is,' Ward said. 'And I say the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders.' The Kernels (72-47) were limited to four hits by a trio of Kane County pitchers. Starter Chris Mederos gave up three hits in seven shutout innings.
Cedar Rapids scored in the eighth on a Matt Long sacrifice fly but stranded the tying run at second in the inning and at first in the ninth.
The good news was another strong starting pitching performance.
This one came from Stephen Locke, who had given up 18 runs (15 earned) in his previous three outings.
Locke (7-6) scattered six hits in seven innings and struck out a season high 10. The teams play the finale of a three-game series tonight at 6:35.