Rangers rookie Scott Heard knew exactly what to do with his linen napkin, but the soup bowl and forks threw him completely off base.

“I wasn’t sure where you put them when you’re done,” said Heard, of San Diego.

But by the end of an etiquette workshop Monday at The Ballpark in Arlington, Heard and 19 other Ranger rookies could sit down to dinner with Miss Manners herself and never again have to worry about using the fish fork for dessert or mistaking the finger bowl for soup.

Arlington fashion and etiquette expert Susan Huston saw to that. During the three-hour workshop, she covered everything from what to wear and when to turn off a cellphone to how to eat at a formal dinner.

The workshop is part of the Texas Ranger Rookie Camp designed by the ball club to teach young players how to handle themselves off the field. In addition, to learning about etiquette, the rookies also take classes on managing money, handling the media and eating nutritious meals.

For the workshop, the rookies were on their best behavior, with no gum-smacking or tobacco-spitting in sight. Instead they sat up straight in their chairs without so much as a giggle as they practiced making introductions and shaking hands.

“The wet-noodle handshake is the No. 1 etiquette goof-up,” Huston told the group as she demonstrated how to grasp a hand web-to-web and give it a few sturdy pumps. “That’s how to make a successful handshake.”

Rookie Jason Botts said he not only learned how to avoid the noodle handshake, but he also got some much-needed tips on how to greet people.

“There were plenty of things I learned, like how to properly introduce people,” he said. “These are definitely things we need to know.”

Probably the most challenging part of the workshop came when the rookies practiced eating a formal dinner, minus the food.

“Don’t do that fluttering thing,” Huston warned as she demonstrated how to properly remove a napkin from the table.

“Go out like a wave and into your mouth,” Huston repeated as every athlete in the room followed on cue, bringing the empty soup spoons carefully to their pursed lips.


Jan Jarvis, Star-Telegram Staff Writer
Excerpts from the Arlington Star Telegram
February 13, 2001