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The Texas Rangers are an American professional baseball team based in the Dallas–Fort Worth metroplex. Texas competes in Major League Baseball (MLB) as a member club of the American League (AL) West division. In 2020, the Rangers moved to the new Globe Life Field in Arlington after having played at Globe Life Park (now Choctaw Stadium) from 1994 to 2019. The team's name is shared with a law enforcement agency.
The franchise was established in 1961, as the Washington Senators, an expansion team awarded to Washington, D.C., after the city's first AL ballclub, the second Washington Senators, moved to Minnesota and became the Twins (the original Washington Senators played primarily in the National League during the 1890s). After the 1971 season, the new Senators moved to Arlington, and debuted as the Rangers the following spring.
The Rangers have made eight appearances in the MLB postseason, seven following division championships in 1996, 1998, 1999, 2010, 2011, 2015, and 2016 and as a wild card team in 2012. In 2010, the Rangers advanced past the division series for the first time, defeating the Tampa Bay Rays. The team then won their first American League pennant after beating the New York Yankees in six games. In the 2010 World Series, the franchise's first, the Rangers fell to the San Francisco Giants in five games. They repeated as American League champions the following year, then lost the 2011 World Series to the St. Louis Cardinals in seven games.
From 1961 through the 2021 season the Rangers' all-time regular season win–loss record is 4,582–5,052 (.476).
When the original Washington Senators announced their move to Minnesota to become the Twins in 1961, Major League Baseball decided to expand a year earlier than planned to stave off the twin threats of competition from the proposed Continental League and loss of its exemption from the Sherman Antitrust Act. As part of the expansion, the American League added two expansion teams for the 1961 season–the Los Angeles Angels and a new Washington Senators team. The new Senators and Angels began to fill their rosters with American League players in an expansion draft. The team played their inaugural season at old Griffith Stadium, then moved to the new District of Columbia Stadium in 1962 under a ten-year lease.
For most of their existence, the new Senators were the definition of futility, losing an average of 90 games a season. The team's struggles led to a twist on a joke about the old Senators: "Washington: first in war, first in peace and still last in the American League." Their only winning season was in 1969 when Hall of Famer Ted Williams managed the club to an 86–76 record, placing fourth in the AL East. Frank Howard, an outfielder/first baseman from 1965 to 1972 known for his towering home runs, was the team's most accomplished player, winning two home run titles. The concurrent rise of the nearby Baltimore Orioles to regular championship contenders (winning their first World Series in 1966) did not help the Senators' cause either.
Ownership changed hands several times during the franchise's stay in Washington and was often plagued by poor decision-making and planning. Following their brief success in 1969, owner Bob Short was forced to make many questionable trades to lower the debt he had incurred to pay for the team in late 1968; the purchase price was reported at $9.4 million. By the end of the 1970 campaign, Short had issued an ultimatum: unless someone was willing to buy the Senators for $12 million (by comparison, the New York Yankees were sold in 1973 for $8.8 million), he would not renew the stadium lease and would move the team elsewhere.
Short was especially receptive to an offer brought up by Arlington, Texas, mayor Tom Vandergriff, who had been trying to obtain a major league sports team to play in the Metroplex for over a decade. Years earlier, Charles O. Finley, the owner of the Kansas City Athletics, sought to relocate his baseball team to Dallas, but the idea was rebuffed and ultimately declined by the other AL team owners(the A's ultimately moved to Oakland, California in 1968). Arlington's hole card was Turnpike Stadium, a 10,000-seat park built in 1965 to house the Double-A Dallas–Fort Worth Spurs of the Texas League. However, it had been built to MLB specifications, and only minor excavations would be necessary to expand the park to accommodate major league crowds.
Vandergriff's offer of a multimillion-dollar down payment prompted Short to make the move to Arlington. On September 21, 1971, American League owners voted 10–2 to allow the move of the franchise to Arlington for the 1972 season. Senators fans were livid, and enmity came to a head at the club's last game in Washington on Thursday, September 30. Thousands simply walked in without paying after the security guards left early, swelling the paid attendance of 14,460 to around 25,000, while fans unfurled a "SHORT STINKS" banner. With two outs in the top of the ninth inning and the Senators leading 7–5, several hundred youths stormed the field, raiding it for souvenirs. One man grabbed first base and ran off with it. With no security in sight and only three bases, umpire crew chief Jim Honochick forfeited the game to the New York Yankees.
The nation's capital went without Major League Baseball for 33 years, until the relocation of the National League's Montreal Expos, who became the Washington Nationals in 2005.
After moving from Washington, the Senators were renamed after the Texas Rangers, the state-wide investigative law-enforcement agency which was founded by Stephen F. Austin in 1823 when Texas was part of Mexico, and whose mythology led to fictional characters such as The Lone Ranger and Walker, Texas Ranger. But the Rangers also had bouts as vigilante squads, when they abused their authority, including by lynching Hispanics. In the wake of 2020's Black Lives Matter protests, prominent mainstream voices have shined a light on the historical racism associated with the law-enforcement agency and called for the baseball team to abandon the Rangers name. The baseball team responded by committing to keeping the Rangers name. The team subsequently made a statement clarifying that despite sharing the name, they are not affiliated with the law-enforcement agency and they stand for equality by "condemn[ing] racism, bigotry and discrimination in all forms."
Prior to the 1972 season, improvements were made to Turnpike Stadium, which reopened as Arlington Stadium, in preparation for the inaugural season of the Texas Rangers. The team played its first game on April 15, 1972, a 1–0 loss at the hands of the California Angels, their 1961 expansion cousins. The next day, the Rangers defeated the Angels, 5–1, for the club's first victory.
In 1974, the Rangers experienced their first winning season after finishing last in both 1972 and 1973. Under the ownership of Brad Corbett, they finished second in the American League West with an 84–76 record, 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 awarded American League Rookie of the Year, Billy Martin was named AL Manager of the Year, Jeff Burroughs won AL MVP, and Ferguson Jenkins was named the Comeback Player of the Year after winning 25 games, a club record to this day. The team posted winning records again from 1977 to 1979 but fell short of reaching the playoffs. The Rangers came very close to clinching a playoff spot in 1981, but wound up losing the first half of the AL West by one-and-a-half games to Oakland at the time of the players' strike. Texas went on to finish under .500 each season through 1985.
The Rangers faced an attendance problem for a few years in Texas, due in part to both the team's inconsistent performance and the oppressive heat and humidity that can encompass the area in the summer. Until the Florida Marlins arrived in 1993, Arlington Stadium was often the hottest stadium in the majors, with temperatures frequently topping 100 °F (38 °C) throughout the summer. So, the Rangers began playing most of their weekend games between May and September at night, a tradition that continues to this day.
Manager Bobby Valentine became steward over an influx of talent in the late 1980s and early 1990s. A winning season in 1986 was a shock to pundits and fans alike as the Rangers remained in the race for the American League pennant for the entire season. With a team consisting of stellar young rookies such as Rubén Sierra, Pete Incaviglia, Mitch Williams, Bobby Witt, and Edwin Correa, the Rangers finished the season in second place with an 87–75 record, just five games behind the division-champion Angels. The season marked a dramatic 25-win improvement over the 1985 season, which resulted in yet another last-place finish in the West. The signing of 41-year-old star pitcher Nolan Ryan prior to the 1989 season allowed Ryan to reach his 5,000th strikeout, 300th win, and 6th and 7th no-hitters with the Rangers. Despite powerful lineups including the likes of Juan González, Rubén Sierra, Julio Franco, and Rafael Palmeiro and a pitching staff that also included Charlie Hough, Bobby Witt, Kevin Brown, and Kenny Rogers, Valentine's Rangers never finished above second place and he was relieved of his duties during the 1992 season.
In April 1989, Rangers owner and oil tycoon Eddie Chiles, sold the team to an investment group headed by George W. Bush for $89 million. While his own equity in the team was a small one ($500,000), Bush was named Managing General Partner of the new ownership group. He increased his investment to $600,000 the following year. Bush left his position with the Rangers when he was elected Governor of Texas in 1994, and he sold his stake in the team in 1998. Bush went on to be elected President of the United States in 2000.
During Bush's tenure, the Rangers and the City of Arlington decided to replace the aging Arlington Stadium with a new publicly funded stadium, at a cost of $193 million, financed by Arlington residents, through a sales tax increase. Ground was broken on October 30, 1991, on what would become The Ballpark in Arlington (now named Globe Life Park in Arlington).
In 1993, Kevin Kennedy took over managerial duties, presiding over the team for two seasons, keeping the 1993 Rangers in the hunt for a playoff berth into mid-September; Nolan Ryan also retired after that season. Kennedy was let go in 1994, although the team led the AL West prior to the players' strike which prompted commissioner Bud Selig to cancel the remainder of the season and the playoffs. On July 28, Kenny Rogers pitched the 12th perfect game in major league history in Arlington against the California Angels.
Johnny Oates was hired as the Rangers' manager in 1995. Oates and company helped to bring home the 1996 AL Western Division Championship, the first division championship in franchise history. The first playoff series, 24 years after the franchise came to Texas, saw the Rangers lose to the New York Yankees, 3 games to 1. Oates was named AL Manager of the Year and Juan González was named AL MVP. The team featured a powerful lineup of hitters including González, Iván Rodríguez, and Rusty Greer, but continued to struggle with pitching despite having Rick Helling and Aaron Sele on their roster. Oates led the team to consecutive AL West championships in 1998 and 1999. Neither of Oates' last two playoff teams could win a single game, losing all six in back-to-back sweeps at the hands of the Yankees, a team that won three World Series in the 1990s after defeating Rangers teams in the first round. The 1999 team was to be the last playoff-bound team until 2010. En route to a second-straight last-place finish, Oates resigned his position 28 games into the 2001 season.
In 1998, venture capital billionaire Tom Hicks bought the team for $250 million.
Prior to the 2001 season, star free agent shortstop Alex Rodriguez was signed by the Rangers in the most lucrative deal in baseball history: a 10-year, $252 million contract. The move was controversial and is frequently maligned by fans and writers who thought that owner Tom Hicks was placing too much emphasis on one player instead of utilizing team resources to acquire several players, especially for a team that lacked pitching talent. Club officials maintained that Rodriguez would be the cornerstone of future postseason success. Although Rodriguez's individual performance was outstanding, the Rangers continued to struggle, and manager Jerry Narron was fired following the 2002 season and was replaced by seasoned manager Buck Showalter. The 2003 season signified the Rangers' fourth-straight last-place finish, and after a postseason fallout between Rodriguez and club management, the reigning AL MVP and newly appointed Rangers captain was traded to the New York Yankees for second baseman Alfonso Soriano and infield prospect Joaquin Arias.
The Rangers battled with the Anaheim Angels and Oakland Athletics for first place in the AL West for much of the 2004 season. Mark Teixeira, Alfonso Soriano, Michael Young, and Hank Blalock became some of the best-hitting infielders in the league, with Young, Blalock, and Soriano being selected for the 2004 All-Star Game. Soriano was named the All-Star MVP after going 2 for 3 with a three-run home run. Despite a late-season push, the Rangers ended up losing six of their final ten games and finished in third place behind the Angels and A's, a mere three games out of first place.
In 2005, the Rangers again struggled to find consistency amid controversy and injuries. John Hart stepped down as general manager following the 2005 season. Jon Daniels was promoted from assistant general manager to replace him. Daniels, at 28 years and one month, became the youngest general manager in major league history.
Daniels and the Rangers front office were very active in acquiring new players before and during the 2006 season. New acquisitions included Brad Wilkerson, Adam Eaton, Kevin Millwood, Carlos Lee, and Nelson Cruz. Despite bolstering their roster, the Rangers' 2006 season ended with a disappointing 80–82 record and a third-place finish in the AL West. Buck Showalter was dismissed as manager after the season. The team hired Oakland third base coach Ron Washington as their next manager. A change at manager was the first of several moves to strengthen the team in yet another busy offseason. The team lost Gary Matthews, Jr., Mark DeRosa, Carlos Lee, and Adam Eaton, but gained Kenny Lofton, Sammy Sosa, Frank Catalanotto, and pitchers Éric Gagné and Brandon McCarthy.
The Rangers struggled offensively early in the 2007 season, despite playing in a notoriously hitter-friendly park. A number of roster moves before the 2007 trade deadline were the beginnings of a rebuilding project headed by Jon Daniels with a focus on the acquisition and development of young players. In the coming years, more club resources would be dedicated to improving the quality of the farm system and scouting departments, most notably in Latin America and the Far East. Daniels' objective was to field a legitimately competitive team by the 2010 season.
The Rangers began the 2008 season exceptionally well, headlined by newcomer Josh Hamilton who looked to be a threat to win the Triple Crown, before fading off as the season wore on. During the All-Star festivities at Yankee Stadium, Hamilton crushed a first-round home run record in the 2008 Home Run Derby with 28. Hamilton hit another four in the second round and three during the final round, for a total of 35 home runs, but lost to the Twins' Justin Morneau. Four Rangers played in the All Star Game: Hamilton, Ian Kinsler, Milton Bradley, and Michael Young, who would repeat his 2006 All-Star Game feat by driving in the winning run via a sac fly.
The Rangers finished the season with yet another sub-.500 record (79–83), yet ended the season second in the AL West, the club's best finish since 1999. The 2009 season saw the Rangers soar into playoff contention for the first time since 2004. Despite injuries to Josh Hamilton and Ian Kinsler, the Rangers held first place in their division for long stretches of the summer before fading after September 1, losing the division to the Los Angeles Angels. The Rangers finished the season at 87–75, their first winning season since 2004 and good enough for second place in the AL West. Michael Young responded to his move to third base by posting one of his best offensive seasons ever while committing just nine errors and earning a sixth-straight All-Star appearance. Josh Hamilton and Nelson Cruz were also named 2009 AL All-Stars.
Following financial problems, including defaulting on a $525 million loan, Tom Hicks and Hicks Sports Group reached an agreement to sell the Texas Rangers to group headed by Pittsburgh sports lawyer Chuck Greenberg and Rangers team president Nolan Ryan for approximately $570 million on January 22, 2010. Hicks also sold much of the land surrounding Rangers Ballpark to Greenberg and Ryan's group in a separate deal.
However, one of HSG's principal lenders, Monarch Alternative Capital, opposed the sale on grounds that the proceeds would not fully repay the defaulted HSG notes. On April 21, Major League Baseball issued a statement declaring the Rangers' sale to be under the control of the Commissioner to expedite the process. As the stalemate between HSG and its creditors continued, the Texas Rangers filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy on May 24. As of that date, the Rangers and HSG had an estimated debt of $575 million. Much of the unsecured debt was owed in back salary. Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez topped the list of unsecured creditors with an estimated $24.9 million owed by the Rangers. The sale would repay all the team's creditors, including Rodriguez and other players owed back salary. Following a court-ordered public auction to be held on August 4 with the winning bid submitted by Greenberg/Ryan, the bankruptcy court closed the case. The sale to Greenberg/Ryan was approved by all 30 MLB owners at the owners meeting in Minneapolis on August 12. The new ownership group was called Rangers Baseball Express, LLC and had Chuck Greenberg serving as managing general partner and Nolan Ryan as club president. Oil magnates Ray Davis and Bob R. Simpson paid the bulk of the $539 million sale price, and became co-chairmen, with the largest stakes in the ownership group. However, they remained mostly in the background as senior consultants, leaving the team mostly in Greenberg and Ryan's hands.
With the influx of talent and success in 2009, the Rangers entered the 2010 season expecting to compete for the division and achieve the front office's 2007 goals. During the off-season, Nolan Ryan spoke about the Rangers' chances in the upcoming season saying, "My expectations today are that we're going to be extremely competitive and if we don't win our division, I'll be disappointed."
After stumbling out of the gates with a sub-.500 start in April 2010, the Rangers took the division lead with a franchise-best month of June, going 21–6. The Rangers never relinquished first place after an 11-game winning streak. The team made several mid-season moves to acquire players such as Cliff Lee, Bengie Molina, Jorge Cantú, and Jeff Francoeur. After the All-Star Game, in which six Rangers were present, came the debut of the claw and antler hand gestures, which gained much popularity, especially after the release of various apparel and souvenir options. Foam claws and helmets with deer antlers became quite commonplace in the ballpark as the Rangers played further into the fall. The Rangers won the AL West on September 25, advancing to the postseason for the first time since 1999 with a 90–72 record. The Rangers entered the playoffs against the Tampa Bay Rays in the first round, which ultimately resulted in a 3–2 series victory and marked the first postseason series victory in the 50-year history of the Rangers/Washington Senators franchise. Facing the Rangers in the American League Championship Series were the defending World Champion New York Yankees, the team the Rangers failed against three separate times in the 1990s. In a six-game ALCS, Texas came out victorious, winning the first pennant in franchise history in front of an ecstatic home crowd. Josh Hamilton was awarded ALCS MVP. The Rangers faced the San Francisco Giants in the 2010 World Series, but their offense struggled against the Giants' young pitching and eventually lost the Series, 4–1.
In March 2011, Chuck Greenberg resigned as Chief Executive and Managing General Partner and sold his interest in the Rangers after a falling out with his partners. Following his resignation, Nolan Ryan was named CEO in addition to his continuing role as team president. Ryan was subsequently approved as the team's controlling owner by a unanimous vote of the 30 owners of Major League Baseball on May 12.
The Rangers successfully defended their AL West Division title in 2011, making the club's second-straight division title and postseason appearance. The Rangers set records for best win–loss record (96–66, .592) and home attendance (2,946,949). On October 15, they went back to the 2011 World Series after beating the Detroit Tigers 15–5 in game six of the ALCS. The series featured Nelson Cruz hitting six home runs, the most home runs by one player in a playoff series in MLB history. In Game 2, Cruz also became the first player in postseason history to win a game with a walk-off grand slam as the Rangers defeated the Tigers 7–3 in 11 innings. However, they proceeded to lose to the St. Louis Cardinals in seven games, after twice being one strike away from the championship in game six.
The Rangers dominated the American League standings for much of the 2012 season, but floundered in September, culminating in a sweep by the Oakland Athletics in the final series. They did, however, qualify for the first American League wild-card playoff game. In the new Wild Card Game, the Rangers' woes continued, as they lost 5–1 to the Orioles. The Rangers figured in the 2013 wild card as well. They finished the season in second place in the American League West with a 91–72 record, tied with the Tampa Bay Rays for a wild card spot. A 163rd play-in tie-breaker game was held to determine the second participant in the 2013 American League Wild Card Game against the Cleveland Indians. The Rangers lost to the Rays, 5–2, in the tie-breaker and were eliminated from playoff contention after reaching the postseason in three consecutive seasons. Nolan Ryan stepped down as Rangers CEO effective October 31, 2013. Since then, Daniels has served as operating head of the franchise, with Davis and Simpson continuing to serve mostly as senior consultants.
Injuries took a major toll on the Rangers in 2014. The lone bright spot was Adrián Beltré, who despite spending some time injured, was the most consistent offensive player on the team. On September 4, 2014, the Rangers became the first MLB team officially eliminated from 2014 postseason contention when a 10–2 loss at home to the Seattle Mariners dropped their record to 53–87. The following day, manager Ron Washington resigned, citing personal issues. With the acquisition of Cole Hamels in 2015, the Rangers overtook the Houston Astros to clinch the American League West title on the final day of the season with a record of 88–74. The Rangers went on to lose to the Toronto Blue Jays in five games in the Division Series after squandering a 2–0 series lead. Texas again clinched the AL West in 2016, but lost to Toronto, 3–0, in the ALDS.
The Rangers finished the 2017 campaign 23 games out of first place with a 78–84 record. In 2018, the Rangers partnered with the KBO League's LG Twins, in business and baseball operations. On September 21, 2018, holding on to a 64–88 record, the Rangers fired Jeff Banister who had led the team since 2015. He was replaced by bench coach Don Wakamatsu for the remainder of the season. The Rangers ended the season at 67–95. Chris Woodward was later selected to be the team's manager beginning with the 2019 season. He led the team to a 78–84 record in his first season. The 2019 season also marked the Rangers' final season of play at Globe Life Park. On September 29, 2019, the Rangers played their final game at Globe Life Park, a 6-1 win over the New York Yankees.
Following a delayed start to the 2020 season due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Rangers played their first regular season game at the new Globe Life Field on July 24, 2020, a 1–0 win over the Colorado Rockies. They ended the contracted season in fifth place at 22–38.
On April 5, 2021, the Texas Rangers hosted the first full-capacity sporting event in the United States since the pandemic began with more than 38,000 fans in attendance. The decision for full capacity stemmed from Texas allowing all businesses to operate at 100% capacity without mask restrictions. The Rangers were criticized by United States health officials and President Joe Biden for hosting a full-capacity event, calling it "a mistake" and "not responsible". However, former White House medical staff member Dr. William Lang argued that lowering rates of COVID-19 infections and increasing rates of vaccination in Texas gave the decision to hold the game at full capacity more credibility. The Rangers did not enforce a mask policy at the home opener or any of their games. Although the seven-day average of COVID-19 cases in Tarrant County more than doubled following the home opener, there was no evidence of causation occurring as a result of the opening game.
After a extremely lowly 60–102 season in 2021, their worst in franchise history, the Rangers went on a spending spree in free agency, most notably signing Toronto Blue Jays second baseman Marcus Semien and Los Angeles Dodgers shortstop Corey Seager.