The Texas Rangers are an American professional baseball team based in Arlington, Texas, United States, representing the Dallas-Ft.Worth area. The Rangers are a member of the Western Division of Major League Baseball's American League. From to the present, the Rangers have played in Rangers Ballpark in Arlington. The "Rangers" name originates from the famous law enforcement agency of the same name.
An expansion franchise, the club was founded in Washington, D.C. in and was called the Washington Senators (not to be confused with the Washington Senators that left D.C. after to become the Minnesota Twins). The team then moved to Arlington in and became the Rangers. The Rangers are one of the least successful teams in MLB history, being one of four teams to have never played in a World Series, having never won a league championship. They are also the only franchise to have never won a playoff series since the franchise's inception in 1961.
When the original Washington Senators moved to Minnesota in 1960 as the Twins, Major League Baseball decided to expand a year earlier than planned to stave off threats of lifting its antitrust exemption. At the winter meetings that year, it awarded a new team to Los Angeles (the Angels, now the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim) as well as a new team in the nation's capital. This new team adopted the old Senators name, but was (and still is) considered an expansion team since the Twins retain the old Senators' records and history.
For most of their existence, the new Washington Senators were the definition of futility, losing an average of 90 games a season. Frank Howard, known for his towering home runs, was the team's most accomplished player, winning two home run titles.
FAA administrator Elwood Richard Quesada led the 10-man group that bought the Washington franchise. Quesada knew very little about baseball; he once wondered why he needed to pay players who didn't belong in the Majors. He also agreed to a mere 10-year lease at D.C. Stadium--something that would come back to haunt the Senators later. In , Quesada sold his 10% stake in the club and resigned. Washington stockbrokers James Johnson and James Lemon took over as chairman and vice president, respectively; they bought out the remaining owners two years later. Johnson took the team's massive financial losses philosophically. However, he died in , and Lemon sold the team a year later to hotel and trucking executive Bob Short, who outbid a group headed by Bob Hope. Short named himself general manager, and hired Hall of Famer Ted Williams as manager.
This seemed to work at first. Although Williams had never coached--let alone managed--at any level of baseball, he seemed to light a spark under the once-moribund Senators. Williams kept them in contention for most of the season; their 86–76 record was the only winning record in the franchise's first 12 years. What no one knew at the time was that this record would not be approached again until --the franchise's 6th year in Texas. The year also saw the second-best recorded attendance in the history of baseball in Washington; 918,000 fans flocked to RFK Stadium.
However, this couldn't last. For one thing, Short had borrowed most of the $9.4 million he'd paid for the team. He was forced to make many questionable trades to service the debt and bring in needed cash. As a result, the team rapidly fell back into the American League cellar. He had little goodwill to start with in Washington since he hadn't promised to keep the team in town, and fans stayed away in droves. It didn't help matters that the Baltimore Orioles (45 minutes away) had turned into a powerhouse. The team's struggles led to a twist on an joke about the old Senators--"Washington: first in war, first in peace and still last in the American League."
By the end of the season, Short had issued an ultimatum--unless someone was willing to buy the Senators for $12 million, he would not renew his lease at RFK Stadium and move elsewhere. Several parties offered to buy the team, but all fell short of Short's asking price.
Short was especially receptive to an offer from Arlington, Texas, Mayor Tom Vandergriff, who had been trying to get a Major League team to play in the Metroplex for over a decade. Years earlier, Charles O. Finley, the owner of the Kansas City Athletics, sought to move his team to Dallas, but the idea was rebuffed by the other AL team owners.
Arlington's hole card was Turnpike Stadium, a 10,000-seat park which had been built in to house the AA Dallas-Fort Worth Spurs of the Texas League. However, it had been built to Major League specifications. It was also located in a natural bowl; only minor excavations would be necessary to expand the park to major-league size.
After Vandergriff offered a multi-million dollar up-front payment, Short finally decided to pull up stakes and move. On September 20 1971; he got his wish, receiving approval from AL owners to move the franchise to Arlington for the season.
Washington fans were outraged, leaving public relations director Ted Rodgers with the unenviable task of putting a positive spin on such events as fans unfurling a giant banner saying "Fuck Short." A photo of the banner appeared on the front page of a DC newspaper the following day.
Fan enmity came to a head in the team's last game in Washington, on September 30. Thousands of fans simply walked in without paying because the security guards left early in the game, swelling the paid attendance of 14,460 to around 25,000. The Senators led 7–5 with two outs in the top of the ninth. Just then, fans poured onto the field. An obese teenager scooped up first base and ran away. With no security guards in sight, the game was forfeited to the Yankees, 9–0.
In , the Rangers began to come into their own as a team. They finished the season 84–76 and in second place behind the eventual World Series champion Oakland Athletics. The 1974 Rangers are still the only MLB team to finish above .500 after two consecutive 100-loss seasons. Mike Hargrove was named AL Rookie of the Year, Billy Martin was named Manager of the Year, Jeff Burroughs was named AL Most Valuable Player, and Ferguson Jenkins was named the Comeback Player of the Year after winning a (still) club record 25 games. However, the following season, after a 44–51 start, Martin was fired as the Rangers manager and was replaced by Frank Lucchesi.
The Rangers' first four seasons would set what has become a pattern for the franchise--cycles of poor to mediocre seasons, followed by an occasional year of near-success, followed by disappointment the following year, then reverting to poor to mediocre seasons.
After excellent seasons between 1977–79, the Rangers came very close in clinching a playoff spot in the first half of . However, Texas lost the game before the strike hit; the Oakland A's led the first-half Western Division by a half-game. After 1981, the Rangers would not post a winning record for another five seasons. During this stretch, the Rangers made one of their most unpopular trades ever, sending multi-Gold Glove catcher Jim Sundberg to the Milwaukee Brewers for future Brewers' manager Ned Yost.
The Rangers faced attendance problems for a few years after moving to Texas, in part due to the team's uneven performance and in part due to the oppressive heat that can overtake the area in the summer. Until the Florida Marlins arrived in , Arlington Stadium was the hottest stadium in the Majors, with temperatures frequently topping 100 degrees during the day. In part because of this, the Rangers began playing most of their games between May and September at night--a tradition that continues to this day. They usually get a waiver from ESPN to play Sunday night games.
During his tenure, the Rangers and the City of Arlington decided to construct a new stadium to replace the aging Arlington Stadium. Ground was broken on October 30, 1991 on what would become The Ballpark in Arlington (now named Rangers Ballpark in Arlington). Stadium construction was financed by Arlington residents, through a sales tax increase. The city also authorized the seizure of land, through eminent domain.
In 1998, Tom Hicks bought the team. Bush received nearly $15 million from the sale, mostly due to a generous 10-percent bonus of the purchases price, which was $250 million.
The year saw the beginnings of the most promise for the Rangers. With a brand new ballpark that hosted its first All-Star Game, Johnny Oates was hired as the Rangers' manager and promptly led them to an AL West division title in 1996. The first Rangers' playoff series in history, 24 years after the franchise came to Texas, saw the Rangers lose to the New York Yankees, though they did win Game 1 for their first, and to date only, playoff victory. Oates was named AL Manager of the Year and Juan González was named AL MVP. The team featured a powerful lineup of hitters with Iván Rodríguez, Will Clark, Mark McLemore, Dean Palmer, Rusty Greer, Juan González, and Mickey Tettleton but continued to struggle with pitching – a reputation that dogs the Rangers to this day – despite having Rick Helling, and Aaron Sele on their roster. Oates again led the team to AL West championships in 1998 and 1999, but en route to a second straight last place finish, Oates resigned 28 games into the season.
In the 2003 season, the Rangers finished in last place for the fourth straight year, and after a post-season fallout between Rodriguez and team management, the then-reigning AL MVP and new Rangers captain, Alex Rodriguez, was traded to the New York Yankees for Alfonso Soriano and Joaquin Arias.
In any case, Daniels and the Rangers front office were very active in the 2005–2006 offseason. Alfonso Soriano, who had often been mentioned in trade speculation, was finally dealt to the Nationals for outfielders Brad Wilkerson and Terrmel Sledge. The Rangers then began making moves to acquire the pitching help that they have long sought. The Rangers acquired starter Vicente Padilla from the Philadelphia Phillies in exchange for Ricardo Rodriguez and acquired San Diego Padres pitchers Adam Eaton and Akinori Otsuka in exchange for Chris Young, Adrian Gonzalez, and Sledge. Finally, they signed free agent starter Kevin Millwood to a five-year contract worth US$60 million. The Rangers were also mentioned in speculation as a possible destination for Roger Clemens, who was not offered salary arbitration by the Houston Astros. However, Clemens eventually decided to sign with the Astros and appeared in his first game for Houston on June 22.
To some extent the Rangers were the victims of bad luck, as their won-lost record was worse than their +51 run differential for the season would indicate. The pitching staff, anchored by Kevin Millwood and Vicente Padilla, improved to a ninth-place finish in the AL in combined ERA compared to 2005's twelfth-place record, despite Ameriquest Field's deserved reputation as a hitter's park. Although the offense was inconsistent for much of the season, with outfielder Brad Wilkerson, third baseman Hank Blalock and catcher Rod Barajas particularly disappointing, the team still finished fourth in the AL in runs scored.
Significant player moves included the July 28 deal acquiring outfielders Carlos Lee and Nelson Cruz from the Milwaukee Brewers in exchange for Kevin Mench, Francisco Cordero, Laynce Nix and a prospect pitcher. Cordero became expendable after early season problems led to his replacement as closer by Akinori Otsuka. Although Otsuka pitched well in the closer's role, fellow pitching acquisition Adam Eaton proved of little help to the club after injury wiped out most of his season. Rangers shortstop Michael Young was named the MVP of the 2006 All-Star game, played on July 11 in Pittsburgh, for his game-winning two-run triple in the ninth. Center fielder Gary Matthews, Jr. also played in the All-Star game.
Gary Matthews, Jr., Mark DeRosa, Carlos Lee, and Adam Eaton all signed with other clubs as free agents. Vicente Padilla has accepted a three-year, US$33 million offer with an option for a fourth year at US$12 million. The Rangers also signed Frank Catalanotto from the Toronto Blue Jays to a multi-year deal. Catalanotto will likely bat second and play left field, similar to his first tour with the Rangers. He is also expected to be a regular DH, switching duties with the newly acquired Sammy Sosa. The Rangers subsequently signed reliever Eric Gagné and center fielder Kenny Lofton to one-year deals. In a sign that GM Jon Daniels is looking for results in 2007, the Rangers' top pitching prospect John Danks was traded to the Chicago White Sox, along with reliever Nick Masset and low-A pitching prospect Jacob Rasner for 23-year-old starter Brandon McCarthy and 18-year-old outfielder David Paisano. Also new to the roster this year is veteran Sammy Sosa. Initially, the media and fans took this purely as a publicity stunt. However, Sammy quieted the critics with his hot bat during spring training. He has made the 25 man roster, and is expected to bat fifth behind Teixeira.
|Year||Record (W-L)||Win Average||Place|
Beginning in 1969, the Washington Senators began playing in the American League East
|84-76||.525||2nd||Only MLB team to ever finish over .500 after two consecutive 100-loss seasons|
|52-62||.456||1st||1994 had no postseason due to the 1994 Major League Baseball strike.|
|90-72||.556||1st||Lost the ALDS to New York Yankees, 1-3.|
|88-74||.543||1st||Lost the ALDS to New York Yankees, 0-3.|
|95-67||.586||1st||Lost the ALDS to New York Yankees, 0-3.|
The Rangers (when combined with their predecessor the Senators) are the oldest franchise that has yet to appear in a World Series; in fact, they have yet to win any playoff series. They are the oldest franchise in the 4 major pro sports to never win a championship. In their history the team has only one playoff victory, on the road at Yankee Stadium in the franchise's first playoff game; they have never won a home playoff game.
Chuck Hinton and Frank Howard, who played for the franchise in Washington (although Howard played for the Rangers in 1972), are listed on the Washington Hall of Stars display at Nationals Park in Washington. So are Gil Hodges and Mickey Vernon, who managed the "New Senators". Vernon also played for the "Old Senators", who became the Minnesota Twins.
Retired by Baseball
The Hall is located in Rangers Ballpark in Arlington.
Television rights are held by FSN Southwest. Josh Lewin, also of Fox Sports and the National Football League's San Diego Chargers, calls the action alongside Tom Grieve; Jim Knox provides field reports. Some games produced by FSN are shown over-the-air on KDFW, "Fox 4" and KDFI, "My 27." Coincidentally, KDFW was once known as KRLD-TV.