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Sunday, August 22, 2010

Texas Rangers Uniform and Team History



Please click on the evolution of the Rangers uniform poster above for a close-up version of the poster. The descriptions below give you some insight and background about the uniforms and/or eras depicted in the poster.

1962


The Texas Rangers began as the Washington Senators in 1961. This was the second coming of the Senators as they originally started in the American League as the Nationals in 1901. That franchise changed names to the Senators in 1957. Then the team was relocated to Minnesota for the 1961 season, where they became the Twins.

The American League awarded an expansion franchise to Washington once the original team left, so the “new” Senators club began in the ’61 season. In the new Senators season opener President John F. Kennedy threw out the ceremonial first pitch in Griffith Stadium, (they only played here for the first season). In 1962 the Senators move to their new home D.C. Stadium, (which would later be renamed R.F.K. Memorial Stadium in 1969). In a year that featured two All Star Games, (this was started in 1959, and ended this season) D.C. Stadium played host to the first one and Chicago’s Wrigley Field was the site of the second. The “new” Senators weren’t too successful this season, finishing in last place in the AL with a 60-101 record.

The first uniform we see on the poster is a home jersey. The pinstripes were a very classic look, but the zipper down the front gives it away as a ‘60’s jersey. Several teams used the zipper as opposed to the buttons from the mid ‘40’s to the late ‘60’s. The Senators only used it on their home jerseys in the ’61 and ’62 seasons.


1968


As we see on this home uniform, the Senators have stuck with the same look as we last saw in ’62, with the exception of a few things. The lettering on the front is now in cursive writing, complete with a “swoosh” that underlines the team name. Also, buttons have replaced the zipper we saw on the last jersey.

The team hasn’t improved much since ’62. They finish this season in last place yet again, going 65-96. The only major bright spot is the outstanding play of Frank Howard, the Senators big hitting outfielder/first baseman. He led the American League this season with 44 home runs, and finished second in RBI’s with 106. In the winter of this year Robert E. Short buys majority interest in the team while former Red Sox great Ted Williams joins the team as its Manager. They finish with the franchises first winning season since they started in ’61, garnering Williams the AL Manager of the Year Award.


1972


This Rangers home jersey is a double-knit style that most major league teams succumbed to during the 70’s and early 80’s. It was made of stretchy, synthetic material and the pants were called “Sans-a-Belt” because the elasticized waistline that eliminated the need for a belt. The team kept the Senators color scheme of red, white and blue. Piping was added around the collar and sleeves, also with the red, white and blue.

At the end of the 1971 season, owner Robert E. Short receives approval from the American League to move the team to Arlington Texas for the next season, where they would play in Arlington Stadium. They were renamed the Rangers, and went on to play a sub par season. New city, same results. They finished in last place yet again. At the end of the season, manager Ted Williams retired from baseball, and Whitey Herzog replaced him at the helm. Herzog wouldn’t even last a season in Texas. He would be let go in September and Billy Martin would take over.

Keen observers might note that in 1972 the Rangers only played 154 games instead of the usual 162 – why? On March 30 1972, Marvin Miller, executive director of the Players' Association, completes his canvass of players on the issue of a players’ strike. The vote comes in at 663 in favor of a strike, ten against, and two abstentions. Thus on April 6, 1972, for the first time in history, the major-league season fails to open due to a general player strike. The strike, announced April 1, will erase 86 games from the major league schedule. The end of the baseball strike is announced on April 13 with an abbreviated schedule to start two days later. The Rangers finish with a 54-100 record.


1977


This road uniform is still the double-knit style with the “Sans-a-Belt”. It is now a pullover, with only two buttons at the top. The black armband and #4 on the left sleeve pays respect to infielder Danny Thompson, who joined the Rangers in ’76, and passed away in December of that year. The patch on the right sleeve was first worn in ’76 as a bicentennial patch. It had on it the years 1776 and 1976. The team seemed to like the patch and hung onto it for a few more years, but took off the bicentennial dates.

The Rangers are now contenders. Despite going through four managers in one season, they have a great season winning 94 and losing 68, to finish only 8 games behind Kansas City in the AL West standings.


1983


The Rangers still have the “Sans-a-Belt” on their road uniform, but have gone back to the style of buttons down the front. This is a darker blue than the last jersey we saw, and they have added a new logo on the front. It is the shape of Texas with a baseball and a large “T.R.” on top of that. The letters for “TEXAS” are now white as opposed to the red we have seen before.

Texas finishes the season leading the American League in fielding and ERA but finish in third place in the AL West with 77 wins and 85 losses. On a record setting night in Oakland, the Rangers score 12 runs in the 15th inning, the most in a MLB extra inning. They won the game 16 to 4.


1984


A second road jersey is added to the Rangers uniform this season, all red. The lettering on the front of the jersey has also been changed. The letters now read “RANGERS” as opposed to “TEXAS”. This is the first time the Rangers have done this since 1974. Also the Rangers lettering has been changed to cursive writing with the addition of a “swoosh” underlining the team name. This is the first time player's numbers would appear on the front of the jersey. Uniform numbers first made their appearance on the front of a uniform in 1952 - the Brooklyn Dodgers were the first team to wear uniform numbers on the front of their jerseys. The Braves followed suit in 1953, and the Reds joined in beginning in 1956. The 1916 Cleveland Indians actually wore a uniform number on their sleeve, but it wasn’t until the ’52 Dodgers that the number made it to the front.

The Rangers fall back into their old ways and finish last in the AL West, going 69-92. To make matters worse, the Texas fans bared witness to a perfect game at Arlington Stadium, when Mike Witt of the California Angels pitched the gem on September 30th.


1989


This Rangers gray road uniform first appeared in 1986. The “TEXAS” across the front is blue and they have removed the numbers on the front that we saw on the last uniform. Also there are no more patches on the sleeves.

The Rangers finish the season with an 83-79 record, after signing a 41-year-old free agent pitcher by the name of Nolan Ryan in the off-season. When they signed him, the only question was, how much could the “Ryan Express” have left? This season he would collect his major league leading 5000th career strikeout. The following year he would record his 6th no-hitter of his career and his 300th win. Then in 1991, at the tender age of 44 he recorded his 7th no-hitter, another major league record. I’d say it was a pretty good gamble for the Rangers. Also this season, future President George W. Bush and investor Rusty Rose, purchase controlling interest of the Rangers.


1993



The Rangers primary home uniform, the one on top, was in much the same style as 1986, but saw the addition of two patches on the sleeves. To honor the last season of Arlington Stadium, the Rangers wore a patch on the left sleeve, while on the right sleeve they wore the initials H.E.C. for former owner H. E. (Eddie) Chiles who passed away.

The uniform below is a throwback jersey the team wore on only a handful of occasions. The question is what were they throwing back to? The Texas Rangers never had a team during the early days of baseball, which is what this jersey is paying homage to. Don’t get us wrong, we like the jersey with its old style “T” with red piping running around the collar and down the buttons, with wider red trim around the sleeves. It’s a classic look - it's just odd that the team chose a third jersey in a throwback style - a bit ahead of their time in doing so.

This would be a year of finales for the Texas Rangers. After 22 years of baseball at Arlington Stadium, this season would be its last. It would give way to a new ballpark that was built in Arlington Stadium’s shadow. Future Hall of Famer Nolan Ryan would retire this season after 27 years in the majors, and 5 seasons with the Rangers. He is the all time leader in strikeouts with 5,714 and would pitch his last game on September 12th on fittingly enough, “Nolan Ryan Appreciation Day”. The team would finish out their season with an 86-76 record.


1996


The road uniform we see has a new style of lettering for the “TEXAS” on the front. The Rangers have all but taken away any blue in their uniforms, and gone with red, including the belt. We also see a patch on the left sleeve, which is a diamond shape and has a large Texas star in the middle representing the “Lone Star State”.

Previous versions of our products showed this uniform as the 1994 uniform and showed a commemorative patch on the right sleeve which was in honor of the 125th year of professional baseball. The 125th patch has the Major League Baseball logo and “125th Anniversary” on it, and celebrates the Cincinnati Red Stockings 1869 team that was the first openly professional team and went 65-0 in a nationwide barnstorming season. But in fact the research team here at Maple Leaf Productions later discovered that the 1994 road uniform did not feature the left sleeve patch, whereas the 1996 road uniform did have the left sleeve Texas Rangers patch, and thus we renamed this uniform image as 1996 and removed the 1994 125th patch.

In the 1994 season, the year of professional baseball’s 125th Anniversary, there would be no World Series for the first time in 90 years, when a player lockout in August 1994 put an end to the season. The Rangers were sitting in first place in the AL West, despite a 52-62 record. Oh what might have been… What a shame.

In 1994 the Rangers moved into a new home this season, The Ballpark in Arlington. It is a fantastic new facility that has taken the looks of several old ballparks and made it into an original field that players love to call home. So much so that on July 28th, Ranger pitcher Kenny Rogers throws a perfect game, the first for the Rangers.

In 1996 the Rangers went 90-72 and won their first ever divisional title and advanced to post-season play for the first time in franchise history. The Rangers lost to the eventual World Series Champion Yankees 3 games to 1, but they had tasted the pleasures of post-season play for the first time and was a harbinger of things to come in 1998 and 1999 when they won the division yet again.


1999


This is a home uniform that is very similar to the last jersey we saw. The “RANGERS” lettering on the front is consistent with the “TEXAS” on their road jersey. The only addition is the piping around the collar and down the buttons.

Nolan Ryan is elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame and announces that he will wear a Texas Rangers ball cap on the plaque that will hang in the Hall, becoming the first Ranger to do so. The Rangers end the regular season in first place in the AL West with a record on 95-67; 8 games ahead of the Athletics. They take on the Yankees in the Divisional Series, but fail to win a game against the eventual World Series Champions.


2000


This jersey is what is referred to nowadays as a “3rd jersey”. A 3rd jersey is a concept that became commonplace by the mid 90’s. Most 3rd jerseys are worn occasionally at home as well as on the road, giving a team a third option as to what uniform to wear. And of course, the addition of a third jersey adds to the options fans can buy, thereby increasing apparel revenues and ultimately benefiting the team. More recently, teams have begun adding 4th and even 5th jerseys to their roster of uniform possibilities. The Rangers wore this blue 3rd jersey for the first time this season. The “TEXAS” on the front was oddly enough white, with a red outline. We see a new patch on the left sleeve, which is the flag for the State of Texas. The patch on the right sleeve is in honor of the team’s Western Division Championship for 1999.

After a trip to the post season the previous year, the Rangers go from first to worst in the American League West finishing 71-91. In the off-season they make an offer to 25-year-old free agent shortstop Alex Rodriguez that he could not refuse. Several teams tried to “woo” Rodriguez, but in the end, Texas became his new home. And what a home he could build on the salary they give him, $252 million for 10 years. This is the largest contract in baseball history to date.


2001


As we see on this home uniform, the Rangers have gone back to the blue and white look, with only a hint of red in the outline of the letters and numbers. This also marks the return of numbers to the front of the jersey. The Texas flag still flies proudly on the left sleeve, while a commemorative patch for the 100th anniversary of the American League is displayed on the right sleeve.

Even with the addition of Alex Rodriguez to the team, the high priced and highly touted Rangers finish last in the AL West, going 73-89, a whopping 43 games behind Rodriguez’s former team the Seattle Mariners. Rodriguez led the AL in home runs with 52, runs with 133 and total bases with 393.


2007


Text not yet written but the Rangers, who started the season with a lot of promise, could only manage a 75-87 record and finished 19 games behind the AL West winning Angels. One fun highlight of the year - on August 22 the Rangers beat the Orioles 30-3 and set the modern day single game record for runs scored (the previous record was 29 runs which happened on two occasions). The all-time record was set by the Chicago Colts (now the Cubs) who scored 36 runs against Louisville in 1897.

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Celebrate the Rangers' uniform history by owning a piece of history:
If you love the Texas Rangers and the history of the Rangers franchise, you might really love to own an original piece of artwork celebrating the team's historic uniforms as seen in the poster at the top of this blog - you can actually own one of those original pieces of art! There are only 14 pieces of original art available for sale, and when these 14 are sold, that's it, they're all sold out.

These original watercolor paintings would make a great gift (birthday gift, anniversary gift, retirement gift, Christmas gift, etc.) for someone you love or even a great gift for yourself (one of these framed pieces would look fantastic in your home or office). Each piece can be bought one of three ways:
1. As unframed art that you could have framed or mounted yourself (the one on the left)
2. Framed in our "Classic" framed version (the middle version)
3. Framed in our "Deluxe" framed version (the version on the right)



If you would like more information about this great artwork including the three ways you could purchase each piece, please visit our Texas Rangers YouTube video at www.youtube.com/watch?v=wfmNya45v0A or go directly to the artwork website www.heritagesportsart.com/Texas-Rangers-c160/ where you can see and purchase the artwork.

And if someone you know loves the history of sports uniforms (but maybe another team) and loves great art, please let them know that we have over 1500 pieces of great original artwork for sale at www.heritagesportsart.com (all NFL teams, all MLB teams, all NHL teams, all CFL teams, select NCAA football teams) or check out each team's video at the Heritage Sports Art YouTube Channel www.youtube.com/user/ssillcox

And please search my blog archive http://heritagejerseys.blogspot.com/ for other blogs on the history of the Rangers.

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This text was written by Scott Sillcox and was last updated August 22, 2010. I have tried to ensure the accuracy of the information, but I am human and can make mistakes. If you believe I have made a mistake, please let me know by email at ssillcox@rogers.com !

Many thanks!!!
Scott

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