Celebrating 50 years of Texas Rangers baseball
1990’s: Here’s Where the Real Fun Begins
The 1990’s for the Rangers were a time of high power, not so great pitching, and 7 winning seasons. Along with that, the 1990’s featured the Rangers first ever playoff births, multiple MVP winners, and Rangers legends; introducing us to guys like Ivan Rodriguez, Juan Gonzalez, and Rusty Greer.
Nolan Ryan’s 300th Win, 2 No-No’s, and the Robin Ventura Beatdown:
Nolan Ryan is a staple in baseball folklore, the Express blew hitters away with one of the most feared fastballs in the history of the sport. 324 career wins and 5,714 strike outs, he’s among the most elite pitchers to ever play. The fact that he came to Texas to end his remarkable career is appreciated by Rangers fans all over. The most memorable of his time in Texas really boil down to 5 moments though.
- His 5,000th strike out in 1989
- No Hitter number 6 in 1990
- 300th Career Win in 1990
- No Hitter number 7 in 1991
- The Robin Ventura Altercation in 1993
I could go on and on about Nolan Ryan and what he meant for baseball in Texas, but that would equate to a book the size of the dictionary. Just know though, that he was phenomenal and he was appreciated perhaps more than any athlete to ever grace any professional sports field in the DFW area at the time.
1996, The First Ever Playoff Birth:
With a Lineup spearheaded by Ivan Rodriguez, Will Clark, Dean Palmer, Rusty Greer, and the 1996 MVP Juan Gonzalez who hit 47 of the Rangers 221 home runs during this season. The Rangers won 90 games, a number at this time was the most in franchise history. As the Rangers dated back to 1961 when they were the Senators, it took them 36 seasons to reach the playoffs, a stretch that took longer than any other team in American sports history. The 1996 Rangers simply did not have the pitching to make it far in the postseason, and ended up losing to the burgeoning late 1990’s Yankees in the divisional round 3 wins to 1, which would become a theme for the 1990’s Rangers.
1998 and 1999:
After a disappointing 1997, the Rangers were back and ready to compete again in 1998 and 1999, although the rosters had the same ring to them as the 1996 roster, not enough pitching. Sure they had Rick Helling eating innings, and superstar closer John Wetteland closing out big games, but its hard to win in the playoffs when you’re sporting a team ERA of 4.99 in 98 and 5.07 in 99. High power offense is what the 1990’s Rangers lived and died off of, but boy could they hit. As Juan Gonzalez won another MVP award in 1998 belting another 45 homers and driving in 157, all while hitting .318, Pudge Rodriguez got his own MVP trophy in 1999, as the Catcher hit 35 home runs while slashing .332/.356/.558. They weren’t the only mashers on the team though as the Rangers were 2nd in the MLB in runs and average in 1998, and 1st in average and 2nd in runs in 1999. It wasn’t enough to overcome the Yankees in either year though.
Who Best Represents This Decade?
Who better to represent the Rangers of the 90s than the Hall of Famer with 14 All-Star appearances, 13 Gold Gloves, 7 Silver Sluggers, and 1 MVP award who had a stretch unlike any other in a Rangers uniform. While you could make a case for Nolan Ryan or Juan Gonzalez, few players made the impact that Pudge did, whereas in each season from 1992-2001 Ivan “Pudge” Rodriguez appeared in an All-Star game and won a Gold Glove award. He is an all time fan favorite has Rangers career numbers of .304 BA, 217 HR, and an OPS of .828. He is widely considered one of the best catchers of all time, and he is also a member of the Rangers Hall of Fame.
Other notable players/people in the era:
Nolan Ryan, Juan Gonzalez, Rusty Greer(Can’t forget about this), John Wetteland, Will Clark