Despite sharing a name with the state’s celebrated law enforcement outfit, Major League Baseball’s Texas Rangers have still managed to carve out a legacy that’s all their own. Originally hailing from the nation’s capital, the franchise has made its mark in the American League by attracting All-Star talent, being consistently competitive, and playing with Texas-sized heart.
After the original Washington Senators headed north to the Twin Cities in 1960, an expansion team was placed in DC to fill the void. However, the second act of professional baseball in the District would only last 11 years, and in 1971, the organization announced it would head to the greener pastures of Arlington, Texas. Success didn’t come right away, but eventually fortune started to favor the new franchise. All it would take was time and the arrival of a Texas legend in 1989 before the club could begin separating itself from the pack.
At the age of 42, right-hander Nolan Ryan was able to show the baseball world that he still had plenty left in the tank. “The Ryan Express” spent the last five seasons of his career in a Rangers uniform, and in that time notched his 5,000th career strikeout, won his 300th game, and tossed two no-hitters. He’d be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1999, and became the first player ever to go in wearing a Rangers hat. As Ryan’s career was winding down, the team was starting to take off.
In 1996, the club made the postseason for the first time. Outfielder Juan Gonzalez smacked 47 home runs and knocked in 144 RBI en route to winning AL MVP. Two years later, “Juan Gone” was once again the league’s best, and the team played in October for a second time. The following season, the Rangers made yet another playoff appearance with the eventual MVP on their team, only this time it was catcher Ivan Rodriguez who would take the honor.
Arlington continued to serve as home to the game’s best players as the Rangers entered the new millennium. In 2010, the stars finally aligned, and the team made the postseason for the first time since 1999. Powered by pitcher Cliff Lee, the club embarked on an epic run that took them all the way to the Fall Classic. Their inaugural World Series trip didn’t go as planned, but they’d return to the national stage the following season -- only to be bested again.
With so many stars having played for the club over the years, it should come as no surprise that the Rangers’ in-house Hall of Fame is three stories high, but that hasn’t stopped the organization from putting the fans first. After all, Texas is the only team to have an official Fan Ambassador on the payroll.
At Globe Life Park in Arlington, spectators may not do “The Wave,” but that doesn’t stop them from boogieing down to “Cotton Eyed Joe” in the seventh inning, nor does it stop them for feverishly cheering on their resilient team.