The 1972 Texas Rangers won 54 games all season long…The 2012 Rangers squad had 52 wins heading into the 83rd MLB All-Star break.
Case in point, the Texas Rangers haven’t always been this good.
It doesn’t seem like too long ago that the only reason the Rangers had an All-Star representative was because each team had to have one.
Still, the Texas Rangers have historically played extremely well in the Midsummer Classic—they’ve garnered three AS MVPs and provided other magical moments.
So it’s time to navigate “Nostalgia Boulevard”, because “Memory Lane” was already taken.
Here’s a look at some of the top Rangers moments in the Midsummer Classic.
Josh Hamilton goes bonkers
Technically, Hamilton’s excellent exploits didn’t occurr during the All-Star Game. As it turned out, in the All-Star Game, “Hami” went a somewhat pedestrian 1-for-3 with a stolen base.
Hamilton, however, had made his mark the night before.
The magnitude of his performance during the 2008 Home Run Derby can cause even the world’s wittiest journalist to run out of adjectives in a hurry.
Hamilton, as you’ll recall, crushed 28 home runs—in the first round.
And the theater within which he put on his majestic show was none other than “The House that Ruth Built.” It was truly special to watch his Ruthian display on national television—as a Texas Ranger nonetheless.
It not only put Hambone on the map, but it helped the world take notice of the Texas Rangers too.
Julio Franco, AS MVP, 1990
The 1990 Texas Rangers season needed a lift. When you have a four-man rotation that has two pitchers 42 years old or older in Charlie Hough and Nolan Ryan—even if one of them is a Hall of Famer—the team needed a cool breeze to amp up for the relentless late-summer Texas heat.
Julio Franco provided just that.
Franco was the Jheri-curled second baseman who at the age of 31 was making his first All-Star appearance as a reserve.
Famous for his farcical batting stance—picture a PGA golfer at the height of his back swing, and that’s Franco’s starting point—his stance was both knock-kneed goofy and extremely intimidating.
In the top of the seventh inning he lined a double to right field off of one of the Cincinnati Reds’ highly esteemed “Nasty Boys”, Rob Dibble.
The double scored both Lance Parrish and Roberto Alomar.
Those were the only runs plated in the game—and they made Franco the no-doubt choice for MVP.
Franco, incredibly, would play another 17 big league seasons after his 1990 All-Star Game heroics.
In both 2004 and 2005 he represented the Rangers in the All-Star Game, and in 2004 he was named MVP—just the second Texas Ranger to earn the award, and the first since the aforementioned Julio Franco did so way back in 1990.
Soriano certainly didn’t take long to wow the Minute Maid Park crowd in Houston.
With two on and two out in the first inning, Soriano smacked a Roger Clemens fastball for a three-run home run, providing the American League All-Stars with all of the momentum they would need to stave off the NL squad for a 9-4—pushing their All-Star game winning streak to seven.
Hank Blalock, AS Game Bad-ass, 2003
The year after the ill-advised and much debated Bud Selig decision to end the 2002 All-Star game in a tie, MLB fans deserved something extra special during the 2003 Midsummer Classic.
And thanks Hank Blalock, they’d receive just that. Special, of course, unless you’re a Los Angeles Dodgers fan.
Hank Blalock was called on to pinch-hit for Troy Glaus in the bottom of the eighth inning with one on and two out. Pinch-hitting is no easy task, much less when you’re the go-ahead run at the dish and unbeatable Eric Gagne is toeing the rubber.
Two things about Gagne and his now-famous saves streak should be noted:
1. Gagne, up until the All-Star Game, had saved 31 consecutive games on the season—he’d save 55 consecutively by the end of 2003 (63 straight dating back to ’02) on his way to the ’03 Cy Young Award.
2. It’s a good thing that All-Star Games don’t count against such streaks, because Hank Blalock wasn’t hearing any of that noise.
Trailing 6-5, and with the Blue Jays’ Vernon Wells on, Blalock strode to the dish.
He then slashed a 3-1 pitch deep into right-center field for the go-ahead home run that rocked the nation.
Well, it rocked my world at least—I almost jumped through the ceiling and onto the third floor of my apartment complex.
And now, nine years later, I still wonder how the heck Blalock wasn’t deemed All-Star MVP that year.
I mean, he did stop one of the greatest streaks of all time—albeit unofficially.
During the 2006 All-Star Game, the “Face of the Franchise” did something truly special.
Top of the ninth inning, two outs, down 0-2, Young ripped a two-run triple off of Trevor Hoffman to give the American League a 3-2 lead.
The lead was safe in the hands of Mariano Rivera as the AL All-Stars won the Midsummer Classic for the tenth consecutive time (excluding the ’02 tie).
And the AL All-Stars, once again, had a member of the Texas Rangers to thank for the victory.
Perhaps another Texas Ranger will earn an All-Star MVP after tonight’s game has concluded. After all, with eight representatives, they’re the odds-on favorites.