The Texas Rangers baseball franchise projects an air of Lone Star State independence, playing at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington, which is deep in the heart of Texas between Fort Worth and Dallas. Its mascot is costumed like a palomino horse, and the team is owned by Hall of Fame pitcher Nolan Ryan, who spent nine seasons with the Houston Astros before finishing his career with the Rangers. What could be more Texas than that?
As it turns out, the Rangers have numerous connections to those twin bastions of East Coast elitism, Washington, D.C. and New York City. The team was spawned from the second incarnation of the Washington Senators, who were spun off as the Minnesota Twins in 1960, re-formed in the nation’s capital in 1961, and then re-imagined once again in 1972 as the Texas Rangers. The star of the Senators was Frank Howard, who played for the team from 1965 through 1971, and then for part of a season as a Ranger in 1972.
Players from the team’s years in Texas have included several prominent future Yankees, including Mark Teixeira (2003-2007) and Alex Rodriguez (2001-2003), whom the team signed to a 10-year, quarter-billion-dollar contract. Fabled Yankees manager Billy Martin was the Rangers’ skipper from 1973 until 1975 (1974 was his only complete season, but a winning one at that), and yet another Easterner, Ted Williams of the Boston Red Sox, managed the team during its debut season in 1972.
Collectible Rangers memorabilia includes baseball cards, pennants, and photos of any of these players in a Rangers uniform, as well as programs from Rangers Ballpark during the years it was known as Ameriquest Field between 2004 and 2007—in an unheard of move, the team bought back its naming rights, concluding, wisely, that the team’s name was more important than the $75 million over 30 years it had signed away.
Another player whose memorabilia is sought by Rangers fans is Ivan Rodriguez who won the American League’s Most Valuable Player award in 1999 when he was a catcher for the Rangers, where he played from 1991 until 2002, as well as for part of 2009. Proving, perhaps, than in baseball everything eventually comes full circle, former Ranger Rodriguez finished his career playing for the Washington Nationals.