The Texas Rangers are known for three things: being owned by former U.S. President George W. Bush, giving Alex Rodriguez a stadium-full of money and The Ryan Express. Then again, when you’re arguably the least successful franchise in Major League history that’s about what you’d expect.
The Rangers are one of three teams to have never reached the World Series and the only team to have never won a playoff series. They’ve only won one playoff game and that was on the road. In the late 1990’s, the New York Yankees defeated the Rangers in nine straight playoff games.
These failures are amplified when you consider that 11 MLB teams entered the league after the Rangers and five of those teams have already won the World Series. Their futility is further amplified when you realize the Rangers are the oldest professional team in North America to have never played in a championship game.
The Rangers joined the American League in 1961 as the Washington Senators. President John F. Kennedy was in attendance for the club’s very first game and he threw out the first pitch. Baseball legend Ted Williams served as the team’s manager from 1969 to 1971.
The franchise moved to Arlington, Texas, a city about 20 miles from downtown Dallas, in 1972 and continued its pattern of revolving managers. In its first 45 years, the Rangers employed 22 managers, four of which managed six or fewer games. Some of the big names to have skippered the club include Billy Martin, Whitey Herzog, Don Zimmer, Bobby Valentine, Toby Harrah, Kevin Kennedy, and Buck Showalter.
In 1989, the team was sold to an investment group that included future President of the United States George W. Bush. Despite owning less than one-percent of the ballclub Bush became the Rangers' managing general partner and held that position until he was elected Governor of Texas in 1994.
Bush ended his tenure as owner in 1998 when the club was sold for $250 million to Tom Hicks. The sale of the team netted the President $14.9 million—not bad considering his initial investment was only $600,000. Incidentally, $250 million is just two million less than the amount Hicks gave to a 25-year old shortstop named Alex Rodriguez.
Prior to the 2001 season, the Rangers signed Rodriguez to the most lucrative contract in baseball history (10 years, $252 million). The deal was derided by critics who felt the Rangers spent too much money for one great player when the team was in need of several good players, especially pitchers.
While Rodriguez put up spectacular numbers as a Ranger, and even won the MVP Award in 2003, the team never finished better than last place. Prior to the 2004 season, Rodriguez was traded to the Yankees.
In February of 2008, the Rangers named Nolan Ryan President. The former hurler, known in his playing days as the “Ryan Express,” played for the ballclub from 1989 to his retirement in 1993. He’s the only player to enter the Hall of Fame as a Texas Ranger. While he had longer stints with two other clubs, as a Ranger Ryan earned his 300th win, 5000th strikeout, and the last two of his seven no-hitters.
Despite being located in the heart of Texas, the Rangers play in the American League’s West Division along with rivals the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, the Oakland Athletics, and the Seattle Mariners. Since 1994, the team has played at Globe Life Park in Arlington (formerly Rangers Ballpark in Arlington).