Ask any Texas Rangers fan and they will tell you: It’s not easy being a Rangers fan. While the team is one of the best supported in Major League Baseball, the Rangers have never won a World Series. But they’ve still provided some great moments.
The best moments of Texas Rangers baseball must include Nolan Ryan and his 5,000th strikeout, one of the most amazing moments in team history (some might also say Ryan should be on the list for that time he defended himself on the mound against an attacking Robin Ventura). But the team has had other great moments, as well. They include the following five.
Nolan Ryan’s Strikeout Record
To say Nolan Ryan is beloved in Texas is like saying barbecue is beloved in Texas. Ryan is one of the most popular people in the state, a native of Alvin (just south of Houston) and a flame throwing righthander who never backed down (for proof of that, we refer you to this). Nolan Ryan Texas Beef is even advertised on the train inside Minute Maid Park, home of the Houston Astros (he played many years there, too). He’s worked in the front offices of the Rangers and Astros. When it comes to baseball, he’s as Texas as Texas gets.
So, it’s appropriate that Ryan, who also played in New York and California, wore a Texas Ranger uniform on Aug. 22, 1989, when he struck out Rickey Henderson to become the first pitcher to reach 5,000 strikeouts. He went on to retire with 5,714 strikeouts. He also threw an incredible seven no-hitters, his last coming as a Ranger in 1991 when he was 44 years old.
Rangers Win the 2010 American League Pennant
To fully appreciate the sweetness of winning, you must have experienced the bitterness of failure. The Rangers provided plenty of lessons in the latter for the club’s first seven decades.
The Rangers became a new club in 1972, when the Washington Senators relocated to North Texas (that’s Senators version 2.0, not the team that played from 1901 to 1960 in DC before becoming the Minnesota Twins). The Senators never won a pennant in the club’s 11 seasons in DC. They never even reached the playoffs. Unfortunately, the Rangers continued that tradition from 972 through 2009, including one dismal stretch when the team first came to Texas in which they did not make the playoffs (this ran from 1972-1995).
All that changed in 2010, when the Rangers beat the New York Yankees in six games to capture the American League pennant. A young Elvis Andrus, Ian Kinsler, Michael Young, Josh Hamilton, Nelson Cruz and Vladimir Guerrero led that team. Along with pitchers such as C.J. Wilson, Colby Lewis and Tommy Hunter, they collectively ended 49 years of baseball with no pennant.
They ended up doing it again in 2011.
Derek Holland Dominates in the World Series
In the 2011 World Series against the St. Louis Cardinals, Derek Holland dominated Game 4. In Game 3, the two teams combined for 23 runs. Unfortunately for Rangers fans, the Cardinals scored 16 of them. Charged with keeping the Rangers in the series, Holland delivered, pitching 8 ⅓ innings of shutout baseball. He allowed only two hits and struck out seven against a team that had clobbered Rangers pitching the previous game. Holland’s stellar effort, coupled with four runs scored by the Rangers, evened the series at 2-2. Spoiler alert: the Rangers eventually lost, in heartbreaking fashion, in seven games. That included a Game 6 that saw the Cardinals come back to tie the game in the 9th and win it in the 11th.
Rusty Greer Saves the Perfect Game
Rangers fans love Rusty Greer, who played for the club from 1994 to 2002, because of his hustle and grit. He showed both in a game played on July 28, 1994 against the California Angels at The Ballpark in Arlington.
Left-hander Kenny Rogers was on the mound. He had pitched a perfect game through eight innings. The Angels’ Rex Hudler led off the 9th, hitting a sinking liner into center field. Greer flew to the ball, making a diving catch that preserved the perfect game and made for great highlight reel material. He later said he was doing anything he could to preserve the game for Rogers. The lefty closed out the game, only the 14th perfect game in MLB history to that point (there have since been nine more).
Josh Hamilton’s Home Run Derby
In a game at Camden Yards against the Baltimore Orioles on May 8, 2012, Josh Hamilton stepped to the plate in his first at-bat and drove a two-run home run over the centerfield wall on the very first pitch. That’s a good day already, but he was just getting started. He went on to hit three more home runs in the game, as well as a double. Unfortunately for Rangers fans and Hamilton himself, a series of issues kept him from becoming an all-time great. But for one night in Baltimore, he looked like a superhero.
These represent just five of the many best moments in Texas Rangers baseball. For the many Rangers fans out there, here’s hoping this list is topped by a championship sooner rather than later.