No one thought Evan and Gina would wind up together, least of all the two of them.
Gina Costanza-Grant and Evan Grant met in seventh grade, at Bair Middle School in Sunrise, Florida. They lost touch for about 35 years, until Facebook.
“It’s the one positive contribution Facebook has made to society,” Grant says.
They became friends in 2011, when Gina was going through a divorce and becoming a working single mom with two kids. On top of that, her mother was sick with cancer.
“Evan became a good friend,” she says. “He would message me and ask how my mom was doing, because he knew I was taking her back and forth from chemo. And he was always helpful.”
They married in 2013, and Evan became the “best stepdad ever” to Nick, 23, and Natalie, 19.
Grant, the Dallas Morning News’ Texas Rangers beat writer since 1997, sold his Midway Hollow home and moved into Gina’s house in Flower Mound so their kids wouldn’t have to change schools.
After becoming empty nesters last year, they bought a three-story townhouse with a roof deck in West Dallas. Gina is a city planner in Irving. They’re both 53, and they have two cocker spaniels, Austin and Cajun, and a cat named Domino.
Why did you move to this neighborhood?
Gina: I was just really over suburbia. I had been there 19 years raising kids, doing PTA and being the soccer mom and the dance mom. A lot of our friends were in Dallas, so it was hard to socialize with friends outside of our Flower Mound group. We loved the city vibe. When the kids moved out, we wanted to have our own place together. Evan moved in with us into my ex-husband’s house, which is very noble. He wanted the continuity and the stability for them.
Evan: We didn’t know we wanted to live in West Dallas. I thought maybe Oak Lawn or Uptown. We looked at one place in Oak Cliff and then [real estate agent Debbie Sherrington] took us over here, and it checked all the boxes. There’s just so much that was right about it.
It must be an easier commute to the ballpark.
Evan: It’s 18 minutes from here to my parking spot. It’s the closest I’ve ever been. Working for the city newspaper … I lived in the city limits the first 15 years, and I thought that was important. I moved to Flower Mound for familial reasons. But I want people to support what the Dallas Morning News stands for, and I feel I need to be a good citizen of Dallas.
I know you are both really into food and restaurants.
Evan: So much of our relationship took place in [Oak Cliff resident] Nick Badovinus’ restaurants. Neighborhood Services on Lovers Lane is where we got engaged. We had our rehearsal dinner there. Now we’re literally five minutes from Off Site Kitchen. Town Hearth is just down the road. Nancy Nichols [former D magazine dining critic] has been my best friend since 1998. She’s introduced me to so much and enriched my circle so much. I don’t know that when I moved here, or even when I was in my 40s, that I was prepared to be a good husband. I think friendships like that have helped me grow as a person. Also, I like to eat. I decided I like food. I like to be a bon vivant.
Have you been a baseball fan all your life?
Evan: My mom’s version is that when I was a kid I didn’t want her to read me storybooks at bedtime. I wanted her to read me the backs of baseball cards.
Gina: One thing I remember about him from middle school is that he had a trading-card business.
Evan: I always wanted to be a writer. I worked at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution as a clerk starting at age 16.
How did you end up in Dallas?
Evan: I had started covering the Marlins, and I did that for about three years. I was going to work for Scripps in Washington, D.C. I interviewed with them and was ready to accept that job, but when I got home, there was a message on my answering machine from the Dallas Morning News. I was still harboring dreams of doing other things in journalism. I had no idea that I was going to do baseball forever. I enjoy interacting with the fan base. It sounds corny, but I love the concept of being a trusted correspondent. I don’t want to make myself sound important, but I do think there’s a generation of fans who have read the news since they were younger, and if I’ve in any way enhanced their enjoyment of the game because they’ve had their own correspondent … it’s the most fulfilling thing I’ve done in journalism.
A lot of people would say you have a dream job. If you could do something else, what would your dream job be?
Evan: I know all the stress that goes along with it, but I just think restaurant owners are rock stars. I know how we all feel when we have a good meal … it brings people together. I would open a barbecue stand named Sheldon’s, because that was my dad’s name.
Gina: I always wanted to be a lawyer, and I thought about going back to law school after my divorce. But I love being a civil servant. It’s just in me. Most of my family were either teachers or civil servants. I just kind of nerd out on the city planning stuff, and I get my legal fix by being involved with the laws we create or interpreting the laws we have.
What keeps you interested in baseball?
Evan: As I’ve gotten older and more introspective, the thing that drew me to baseball was the more geographic connection rather than the Xs and Os. The Braves always had “Atlanta” across their jerseys. For readers, I try to connect them to their team. Whenever possible, I still do try and look at it from the perspective of my first time going to a game with my dad. I still remember going to the game with him and walking with him hand in hand. That’s a feeling that will resonate with me for the rest of my days.
People think baseball is boring.
Evan: I think the game has got challenges right now. We tend to want more action, and the game has slowed down. The all-or-nothing perspective of some hitters, for some people, makes it less interesting. It still remains a thing you get attachment to because it starts out as a thing to do with your family. You still can take your kids to the ballpark and sit in the bleachers. You can’t take your kids to the Cowboys game. Tickets to a Mavericks game are exorbitantly expensive.
What is your favorite story you’ve written?
Evan: I wrote a story about my dad going to his last game in 2012, and we run it every Father’s Day. I can’t tell you the number of people that still come up to me and tell me it meant a lot to them, and it touches me to my core. I’ve traveled the world. I covered the Rangers in two World Series. Being able to take my dad to his last game and to know that we were going together… roles had changed. When I was 6, he was proudly showing me off, and when I was 46, I got to take him to his last game. We got him up to the press box, and I was introducing him around, and I couldn’t have been prouder.