Lone Star Series

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Houston Astros – Texas Rangers
Houston Astros  Texas Rangers
History
First meeting June 8, 2001
Location The Ballpark in Arlington, Arlington, TX
Last meeting August 11, 2014
Location Minute Maid Park, Houston, TX
Next meeting August 28, 2014
Location Minute Maid Park, Houston, TX
Number of meetings 103[1]
Regular season series 63–40, Rangers
Largest victory 18–3, Rangers (May 21, 2005)
Current streak 1, Rangers
Longest Astros win streak 7
Longest Rangers win streak 11

The Lone Star Series (also, Silver Boot Series) is a Major League Baseball rivalry featuring Texas' two major league franchises, the Houston Astros and Texas Rangers. It is an outgrowth of the "natural rivalry" established by MLB as part of interleague play as the Rangers are a member of the American League and the Astros were a member of the National League until 2012.

During interleague play, the winner of the 6-game series was awarded the Silver Boot. A 30-inch (760 mm) tall display of a size-15 cowboy boot cast in silver, complete with a custom, handmade spur. If the series was split (3-to-3), the winner was the club which scored the most runs over the course of the series.

In 2013, the Astros joined the American League West with the Rangers and changed their rivalry from an interleague to an intra-division rivalry.

History[edit]

19th century: The Beginning of Baseball in Texas[edit]

The birth of baseball in Texas happened at the same time as the Civil War in 1861 with the formation of the Houston Base Ball Club to promote the game the same way Alexander Cartwright had during the 1840s with the Knickerbocker Base Ball Club in Manhattan. Baseball was played in Galveston and other Lone Star locations prior to the Civil War.[2] The distribution of the game was interrupted by the Civil War but would pick up by the end of the war.[3] Baseball was played during the Civil War mostly by Yankees but occasionally by Confederates. A humorous story by Texas-based Union soldier George A. Putnam told of a baseball game interrupted by Confederate gunfire. Putnam stated:

On April 21, 1867, the first occurrence of a baseball game was taken into account by the Houston Post. At the San Jacinto Battlegrounds near Houston, where General Sam Houston led Texas to triumph in the War of Independence from Mexico in 1836, a baseball game took place on the anniversary now celebrated as San Jacinto Day. The Houston Stonewalls defeated the Galveston Robert E. Lees, 35–2, that rivaled the result of what originally happened on the same site.[5]

Baseball spread throughout the state in the next two decades as a popular amateur game. The influence of what Houston had done in the early 1860s, those who acquired the nuances of the game from Civil War travels, and experience of immigrants who moved to Texas during the Reconstruction Era helped in organizing the sport and bringing more attention to the game in the state of Texas. Scarcely a generation after the state’s first recorded game in 1867, Texas fielded 100 minor league clubs—more than any other state.[6]

The acceptance of baseball had greatly expanded throughout Texas by the end of the 19th century. Houston was the founding member of the Texas League in 1888 and also won their first league pennant the next year. The Houston ballclub went by the nicknames of Babies, Red Stockings, Mud Cats, Magnolias, and Wanderers[7] before the Houston Buffaloes name became permanent around the turn of the 20th century.

20th century: Growth and popularity of baseball in Texas[edit]

The roots of the Lone Star Series started in the late 19th century and early 20th century in the Texas League. There were teams in Austin, Beaumont, Cleburne, Corsicana, Fort Worth, Galveston, Greenville, Paris, San Antonio, Sherman, Temple, Texarkana, Waco as well as Dallas and Houston. (Both the Rangers and Astros have teams in present-day Double A Texas League. The Rangers' affiliate is the Frisco Roughriders while the Astros' affiliate is the Corpus Christi Hooks.) Along with the Texas League, there have been many baseball leagues that briefly existed in Texas or included at least one team from the Lone Star State such as: Lone Star Colored League of Texas,[8] Negro American League, Colored Texas League, Texas Negro League, Texas-Oklahoma Negro League, South Texas Negro League,[9] West Texas Negro League, Mexican National League, Central Baseball League, American Association, All-American Association, South Central League, Arkansas State League, Cotton States League, Rio Grande Valley League, Rio Grande Association, Southwestern League, Panhandle-Pecos Valley League, Longhorn League, North Texas League, West Texas-New Mexico League, Sooner State League, Arizona-Texas League, Lone Star League, Big State League, Gulf States League, East Texas League, Texas Association, Arkansas-Texas League, West Texas League, South Texas League, Middle Texas League, Central Texas League, Texas-Southern League, Texas-Louisiana League, Texas Valley League, Texas-Oklahoma League, Southwest Texas League, Evangeline League, West Dixie League, Gulf Coast League, Western Association, and Sophomore League and also including present-day Pacific Coast League, United League Baseball, Texas Collegiate League, Continental Baseball League, Texas Winter League, and American Association of Independent Professional Baseball.

Long before professional baseball came to Texas, college baseball also has been a staple of Texas culture. Outside of the Lone Star Shootout, college baseball in Texas is overwhelmingly popular and has some intense in-state rivalries such as the Battle of the Brazos between Texas A&M and Baylor University, Houston-Rice rivalry, the Holy War between Baylor and TCU, Battle of the Piney Woods between Sam Houston State and Stephen F. Austin State University, and the Lone Star Showdown between the Texas Longhorns and Texas A&M Aggies. Other in-state rivalries include Sam Houston State-Rice, Texas-Rice, Texas State-Rice, Texas State-University of Texas at San Antonio, Texas Tech-Baylor, Texas-Texas Tech, Texas Tech-Texas A&M, Texas-Baylor, Sam Houston State-Houston, Texas Southern-Prairie View A&M, St. Mary's-University of the Incarnate Word, Dallas Baptist-Houston Baptist as well as other esoteric rivalries. Tournaments, like the Southwest Diamond Classic in Frisco, TX, Whataburger College Classic in Corpus Christi, TX, and Houston College Classic played at Minute Maid Park, take place there in late February because of the more convenient, warmer weather. Texas collegiate baseball programs can be found throughout the different levels of the NCAA. 1-A conferences that include Texas collegiate baseball are the American Athletic Conference, Big 12 Conference, Conference USA, and the Mountain West Conference as well as the Southland Conference, Southwestern Athletic Conference, and 1-A Independent teams, UTPA and Dallas Baptist. (TCU, Texas, Texas A&M, Texas Tech, Rice, Houston, Baylor, and SMU (ceased operations after 1980) baseball programs once belonged together to the Southwest Conference before 1996; Clark Field, Dan Law Field, Olsen Field, and TCU Diamond are just some of the ballparks that played host to Southwest Conference baseball over the course of the SWC.) Other conferences that include one or more Texas collegiate baseball programs are the Heartland Conference, Lone Star Conference, American Southwest Conference, Southern Collegiate Athletic Conference, Red River Athletic Conference, Sooner Athletic Conference, Southwest Junior College Conference., Texas Intercollegiate Athletic Association, Western Junior College Athletic Conference, and NAIA independent schools (University of Houston–Victoria).

The Lone Star Series was the consequence of many things that happened to Texas in the 1950s: population shift westward from metropolitan areas on the East Coast, the space program, more modernized higher education, and the formation of the brief Continental League resulting in expansion in Major League Baseball shortly thereafter.

1962: Texas has its first major league team, the Colt .45s[edit]

Prior to 1962, there were no Major League Baseball teams in Texas until the Houston Colt .45's of the National League. They played in Colt Stadium for the first three years of existence, fighting against hot and humid weather and outrageously large mosquitoes, which also had an effect on the fans.[10] Unbelievably, they did not play a Sunday night baseball game at home until June 9, 1963, which was also the major leagues' first Sunday night game.[11] The Astros, as they came to be with the new all-weathered Harris County Domed Stadium, really did not have a strong rivalry with any team in the NL, except for the St. Louis Cardinals and later on the Atlanta Braves.

During the planning of the second wave of expansion in the big leagues in 1968, the National League considered putting a new team in the Dallas-Fort Worth area by an overwhelming majority of its owners. However, Judge Roy Hofheinz did not want it to happen or allow it because he owned all the television and radio rights in Texas for Astros ballgames. The other owners were in favor, except Hofheinz, of having a rivalry approaching the intensity of the Dodgers–Giants rivalry in the Senior Circuit. San Diego and Montreal were selected instead.[12] The Dallas-Fort Worth area would have to wait four more years for a team to arrive when the Senators (see below) moved to Arlington, TX. It would be another 32 years before there was a meeting between the Rangers and Astros.

1972: Washington Senators move to Arlington to become the Rangers[edit]

Before they were the Texas Rangers, the team belonged to the Beltway as the second version of the Washington Senators where they played mediocre baseball most of the time for the first 11 years of existence. They replaced the old Washington Senators who had moved to Minnesota to become the Twins in 1961. The new Senators changed into the Texas Rangers in time for the 1972 season and so a rivalry was born. (At one time, the Kansas City Athletics were interested in moving to the Dallas/Fort Worth area in the early 1960s but were voted down, 9–1, by the other American League owners.)[13][14] The Astros have been in Texas ten years longer than the Rangers, but the Senators/Rangers franchise is one year older than the Astros. They met, starting in 1992, at the end of Spring Training with the Rangers winning 2–0 claiming the very first Silver Boot. On April 1, 1993, Nolan Ryan returned to the Astrodome as a member of the Texas Rangers in front of 53,657, the biggest crowd to see a big league game in Texas up to that point. The Rangers won the last two exhibition games, a 6–5 victory in Arlington in 1999 and a 9–3 victory at Houston in 2000, before the two teams met for the first time in regular season in 2001.[15]

First Meeting and Interleague Rivalry[edit]

AstrosRet 34.PNG
Nolan Ryan's number 34 was retired by the Houston Astros in 1996.
RangersRet 34.PNG
Nolan Ryan's number 34 was retired by the Texas Rangers in 1996.

One year before their first official matchup in Interleague Play, both teams retired the number of Hall of Famer Nolan Ryan who had successful runs with both teams. According to Mike Lamb and Mark Teixeira, the Rangers-Astros "rivalry" is more for the fans of Texas than like a bitter rivalry (e.g. Windy City Series).[16][17] On July 1, 2006, Gary Matthews Jr. made an unbelievable catch by taking away a home run from Houston Astros first baseman Mike Lamb in the top of the 8th inning.[18][19] While with the Astros for two years, Roger Clemens never pitched against the Rangers in twelve Lone Star Series matchups. Only four players have played for both the Rangers and Astros against their in-state opponent since 2001. Those players are: Doug Brocail,[20][21] Mike Lamb,[22][23] Richard Hidalgo,[24][25] and Ivan "Pudge" Rodriguez.[26][27] Minute Maid Park and Rangers Ballpark in Arlington both had been using Sea Isle 1 turf through the 2008 season rather than natural grass because of the aggressive Texas summer heat. Before the 2009 season, the Astros chose to replace the previous surface in their respective ballpark with a more durable sod that requires less sunlight than other natural grass turf systems.[28] Beginning in 2008, the Lone Star Series saw for the first time two African-American managers go head-to-head against one another, the Astros' Cecil Cooper and the Rangers' Ron Washington which lasted for two years. There has only been one rainout in the history of the Lone Star Series. A game scheduled for Sunday June 30, 2002 at the Rangers Ballpark in Arlington was unceremoniously postponed due to rain and rescheduled for Monday September 2. The Rangers won the last matchup of the year against the Astros, 7–2, in front of a minuscule crowd of 24,468, but the Astros won the Silver Boot regardless of the outcome of the game.[29] The contrast between the Rangers and Astros in their ballpark histories, and uniform histories are very apparent. The Rangers, since 1972, have always played in open-air stadiums (Arlington Stadium and Rangers Ballpark in Arlington) while the Astros have mostly played in indoor stadiums (Astrodome and Minute Maid Park). While the Rangers have traditionally worn variations of red, white, and blue to represent the Lone Star flag, the Astros have changed color schemes (e.g. Shooting Star of the late 1960s, Rainbow Guts) and logos many times throughout their history. Other differences, not related to baseball, include the weather during the summer, population, cultural, and allegiance preferences between the different regions of Texas. Both Houston, TX and Arlington, TX have humid subtropical climates; however, the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex mostly has dry winds in the summer (and icy conditions in the winter, with some frost at night) compared to Greater Houston's severe relative humidity and minimal wind except near the coast (and milder winter conditions). The Metroplex is inland located in North Texas while Houston is in the face of the Gulf of Mexico in Southeast Texas. The city of Dallas has the 9th largest population in the United States and 3rd largest population in Texas; the city of Houston has the 4th largest population in the United States and largest population in Texas. The Dallas–Fort Worth metroplex is the 4th largest metropolitan area in the US, while the Greater Houston area is the 5th largest in the US Since their inductions into Major League Baseball, there have been only 59 players to play for the Houston Astros and the Texas Rangers. Some notable names are Ken Caminiti, Richard Hidalgo, Mike Lamb and Carlos Lee.[30] But out of those 59, only 3 have played their entire careers for both teams, Chuck Jackson, Mike Richardt & Mike Simms.[31] On February 6, 2008, Nolan Ryan became the Rangers' team president after being the special assistant to general manager, scouting players, and holding pitching camps with the Astros for the past three seasons.[32] (Nolan Ryan was also the only person to be named DHL Hometown Hero by two organizations, the Rangers and Astros, respectively.)[33][34] On August 18, 2009, the Rangers acquired Ivan Rodriguez in a trade from the Houston Astros to help them down the stretch for the purpose of achieving their first playoff appearance in ten years. It will be Rodriguez's second stint with Texas.[35] On September 14, 2010, the Houston Astros Triple-A affiliate, the Round Rock Express, announced that they would become the Texas Rangers new minor league affiliate. This left the Houston Astros without a Triple-A team and the Texas Rangers old Triple-A team, the Oklahoma City RedHawks without a parent club. On September 20, 2010, the Houston Astros made the Oklahoma City RedHawks their own affiliate. These changes went into effect immediately due to neither team making the play-offs but changes won't be seen until the 2011 Season.

1997-2012: First Official Meetings and Interleague play[edit]

During the 1997 off-season, "radical" realignment plans were bandied around about possibly rearranging teams from one league to another, especially Houston and Texas. In order to cut down on traveling costs and align teams together based on geography, the MLB owners came up with many plans to put the Astros and Rangers in a more suitable placement together. However, the American League and National League would lose their respective identities in the process.[36][37][38] (The only move was the Brewers from the AL Central to the NL Central.) One of the plans in 2000 even featured the Texas Rangers in a six-team AL Central so that they would be with other teams in the Central Time Zone while the fledging Arizona Diamondbacks would have had to leave the NL West for the AL West to replace the Rangers.[39] In the 2005–06 off-season, the Florida Marlins were considering moving to San Antonio among other cities due to lack of funding for a new stadium. Another professional baseball team in Texas, whether by relocation or expansion, in either league would create greater rivalries, similar to the kind in the NBA with the Spurs, Mavericks, and Rockets, and possible realignment issues.[40]

Of course, the Lone Star Series wasn't conceived until 2001, four years after Interleague Play began. It was only logical to have the Rangers and Astros matched together since they are the only MLB teams representing Texas. Since both play in two different "divisions" (AL West and NL Central respectively), Major League Baseball had to rectify the oversight even though Interleague Play wouldn't be rotated from division to division on a yearly basis until 2002.

On July 1, 2006 Rangers outfielder Gary Matthews Jr. stole a home run from Astro Mike Lamb in what was considered one of the greatest catches of the decade according to MLB Network.

2013: Interleague rivalry to division rivalry - Astros join the American League[edit]

Major League Baseball approved the sale of the Astros on November 11, 2011 to Jim Crane on the condition they join the American League West. The Rangers, located in the central time zone, had many of their games start late in the pacific time zone due to the Angels, Athletics and Mariners all being located on the west coast. To help ease the Rangers' schedule, Commissioner Bud Selig required that the Astros join the AL West in 2013 so both teams would have another division rival in relatively close geographical proximity to one another while ensuring that both the AL West and the National League Central both would have the same number of teams as the other divisions. The move's consequence for the rest of the league resulted in all teams having to play interleague games year round due to the odd number of teams in each league.

The Astros and Rangers played each other on opening day March 31, 2013 with the Astros winning convincingly. The next game, Rangers pitcher Yu Darvish was one out away from a perfect game when Marwin Gonzalez hit a single through Darvish's legs. [41]

Lone Star Series results[edit]

Silver Boot 2011
Year Series Winner Texas W Houston W Notes
2001 Tie 3 3 Rangers win tiebreaker outscoring Astros 44–28 (4–5, 16–4, 5–6, 12–9, 1–2, 6–2)
2002 Astros 2 4
2003 Astros 2 4
2004 Tie 3 3 Rangers win tiebreaker outscoring Astros 42–29 (3–1, 8–7, 0–1, 5–7, 8–10, 18–3)
2005 Rangers 4 2
2006 Astros 2 4
2007 Rangers 4 2
2008 Tie 3 3 Rangers win tiebreaker outscoring Astros 34–28 (16–8, 6–2, 4–5, 3–4, 3–2, 2–7)
2009 Rangers 5 1
2010 Rangers 5 1
2011 Rangers 4 2
2012 Rangers 5 1 Last year of interleague series
2013 Rangers 17 2 First year as division rivals in the AL West
2014 Astros 5 11
Overall Rangers (7–4–3) 64 43

See also[edit]

Sources[edit]

  • The Dallas Morning News (2008). Texas Almanac 2008–2009. 
  • Farmer, Neal (1996). Southwest Conference's Greatest Hits. 

References[edit]

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  41. ^ http://scores.espn.go.com/mlb/recap?gameId=330402118