ARLINGTON (KFDX/KJTL) — Half a century ago, Major League Baseball made its debut in North Texas when the first home game for a new expansion team threw it’s first pitch.
Originating in the nation’s capital, the second iteration of the Washington Senators found themselves looking for a new home during the 1971 season after ownership elected not to renew the lease on the stadium they played in.
Arlington mayor Tom Vandergriff offered millions of dollars to move the franchise to the Dallas-Ft. Worth metroplex, including a hefty down payment.
After Turnpike Stadium, former home of the Double-A DFW Spurs of the Texas League, was made to accommodate the crowd, American League owners voted 10-2 to allow the Washington Senators to relocate to Arlington, Texas.
Taking the idea from the state-wide law enforcement agency, the Senators changed their name ahead of the 1972 season to the Texas Rangers.
Turnpike Stadium reopened as Arlington Stadium, and 50 years ago, during their inaugural season, on April 21, 1972, the Texas Rangers threw the first pitch of the franchise’s very first game in their home state.
The Rangers faced off against current American League West rivals the California Angels (now the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim) in front of over 20,000 spectators.
Managed by one of the greatest hitters in baseball who to this day holds the MLB record for career on-base percentage, Hall-Of-Famer Ted Williams led the Rangers to build an early 6-1 lead and held on to win their first game in Texas, defeating the angels 7-6.
Notes from the first home game in Texas Rangers history:
- Dick Bosman, the only pitcher in MLB history to miss a perfect game due to their own fielding error, got the start and the victory for the Rangers.
- Reliever Paul Lindblad got the save
- Frank Howard and Dave Nelson each hit a home run in front of their home crowd
- Toby Harrah had three hits and scored three runs
- Lenny Randle had three hits and drove in four runs from the leadoff spot