The history of the Texas Rangers baseball team does not actually begin in the team’s home field of Arlington, Texas, but rather in the nation’s capital, Washington DC. After Washington DC had lost their once beloved Senators team to Minneapolis (where they became the Minneapolis Twins), the city was looking for a new team. An expansion team was formed in 1961 inside the American League. In a nod to the city’s history in baseball, the new team was branded the Senators as well, though the Twins club continued to carry the team’s records. The reborn Washington Senators did very poorly over the years, leading to a saying wherein Washington DC was “first in war, first in peace, last in the American League” among certain commentators inside the game.
After a decade of struggling in Washington DC as fans started keeping the team at arm’s length (sometimes even leaning more towards the more successful Baltimore Orioles to the northeast), the team’s owner laid down an ultimatum, wherein unless someone in Washington DC bought the team for a then unprecedented 12 million USD (the far more profitable New York Yankees were sold two years later for 8.8 million USD), he would move the team elsewhere. No one in the Washington DC area took the then owner Bob Short up on the offer and Short began looking for places to move his team. The mayor of Arlington, Texas at the time, Tom Vandergriff, brought an offer to Short’s attention wherein a group of businessmen would allow the team to set up in Turnpike stadium. Because the stadium was built to Major League specifications and located in a natural bowl, it would cost comparatively little to to transform it into a major league stadium.
When the deal was sealed and the American League owners approved the transition, the Senators rebranded themselves the Texas Rangers after the region’s widely famed law enforcement group. After security simply walked out of the Senators’ last game and the field was raided by angry Senators’ fans, the team had nowhere to go but up. It wasn’t until 1974 that the team made their place in the league with a solid 84-76 record. A number of important players made their mark in this season, followed by a number of successful seasons between 1977 and 1979 culminating during the 1981 season where the team nearly made it to the play offs. After this, the team had a hard time, struggling with a players’ strike and trading away fan favorite catch Jim Sundberg away to Milwaukee.
During the late eighties, the team bounced back, bringing in a large number of amazing players, including one of the greatest pitchers in the game’s history, Nolan Ryan. Alongside Ryan, this period also marked the beginnings of the careers of Ruben Sierra, Pete Incaviglia, Edwin Correa and Bobby WItt. Though the team was sold to a new group of investors, the team did gain a new stadium financed through a sales tax increase leveled on Arlington residents to build The Ballpark in Arlington.