I’ve gotta be honest. The only reason I set out for Arlington’s 3rd Base Sports Bar & Grill was for the purpose of making some jokes. After all, is any cleavage-and-wings-type eatery better or different from the others?
I figured the salaciously named sports joint probably serves a lot of fried food and cheap macrobrews, which would’ve left me plenty of chances to make a joke about “going to 3rd Base to get chicken-fingered” or, barring that, “getting blasted at 3rd Base.”
Unfortunately, I found it impossible to reach 3rd Base, in part because I took Watson/Hwy. 360 instead of the earlier Six Flags-related exit, which led me on a long meandering cruise through the desolate office parks that ring Arlington’s most consistent thrill zone. But even if I’d taken the right exit, I wouldn’t have made it to 3rd Base –– the bar has closed down (despite the present-tense language on the company’s website). Maybe I’m blind, but as far as I could tell, 3rd Base Bar & Grill is nothing but an empty space for lease across from whatever that rickety-looking, white, kid-friendly roller coaster at Six Flags’ southeast corner is called. Yeah, I was pretty bummed, but I circled the block, knowing that this part of Arlington is rife with sports bars, largely due to its proximity to The Ballpark and Jerryworld, and that there was probably some place to get a cheap draft and some kind of bar food that was battered, fried, and served with a dipping sauce.
Heading south on the 360 frontage road, I stopped at a Japanese sports bar (!) called Aiyoku. I won’t bore you with the details, but it was a big disappointment. Unless you like Jell-O shots. Because Aiyuko sells ’em for a dollar a pop. I paid and headed south on Watston, still thinking I’d somehow missed 3rd Base. I was about to turn onto the cross street at Randol Mill and circle back around, when I noticed a gray, nondescript decommissioned gas station and glimpsed the words “The Pump Sports Bar” on the outside wall, next to the two roll-up garage doors. Needless to say, I pulled right the fuck over.
In contrast to the fact that 3rd Base no longer existed and Aiyuko kind of sucked, The Pump was an oasis, where $3 got you a giant (20-ounce, I think) mug of beer, with 100 percent less of the club music than was thumping out of Aiyuko’s sound system. The walls were wood-paneled, but rather than the usual rec-room veneer, these slats looked more like a hardwood floor. Ancient neon beer signs sprouted from the walls, and the bar was a sort of shingled cabana whose canted roof connected with the stained beams of the ceiling — it’s the sort of ’70s aesthetic you’d find at a place like Maxine’s in Benbrook or The Double Wide in Dallas if the DW had actually been around since ’78. At the north end of the room were two pool tables, at the south end four electronic dart setups, with snack dispensers in between. The fancy Marlboro machine at the northeast corner made the HD big screen above look anachronistic; the bar is for the most part rooted in the late ’70s, to the point that it’s surprising to get cellphone reception there.
You do, though, because I had to sit there and listen to some middle-aged dude arrange electricity and satellite hookups over the phone for his college-age son. Despite all that techno-parental jabber, The Pump made the whole trip to Arlington worthwhile –– or at least as good as getting to 3rd Base would’ve been. — Steve Steward
The PumpSports Bar
601 N Watson Rd, Arlington. 817-640-0710.
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