After moving from Washington to Dallas for the 1972 season, the Texas Rangers lost 100 and 105 games in their first two seasons. In 1974 the team turned it around and went 84-76, finishing in second place in the A.L. West, 5.0 games behind the eventual World Champion Oakland A’s.
The Rangers were managed by Billy Martin, who took over late in 1973 after being fired by the Detroit Tigers.
Despite his success in 1974, Martin didn’t last through the 1975 season, the third time in his managerial career he went from fiery to fired.
Billy Martin wins this team’s “Notable Airbrushing” award; you can see that he’s actually wearing a Tigers jersey.
Hall-of-Famer Fergie Jenkins went 14-16, 3.89 as a 30-year-old with the Cubs in 1973. The Cubs traded him to Texas for then-minor-leaguer Bill Madlock and Vic Harris. Fergie reacted by going 25-12, 2.82.
Jenkins finished 2nd to Catfish Hunter in Cy Young Voting and 5th in A.L. MVP voting. He’d fall back off again in 1975 and would get traded to the Red Sox after that season.
BEST OFFENSIVE PLAYER
No arguments against Jeff Burroughs as the team’s best offensive player. I’d mentioned that Fergie Jenkins was 5th in MVP voting? Well, Burroughs was the MVP.
Burroughs lead the league with 118 RBI and batted .301 with 33 doubles, 2 triples and 25 homers.
Well, this is more “Best Rookie Story” than “Best Rookie”. David Clyde was a Texas high school pitching phenomenon who was drafted first overall by the Rangers and went straight into the majors to pitch for a team desperate for a box office draw.
While he pitched an 8 K 1-hitter in his debut, he was inconsistent in his career and you can’t help but wonder how his career would’ve played out if he were allowed to develop in the minors.
BEST PLAYER NOT ON A 1974 CARD
It wasn’t until I wrote this post that I realized how award-winning the Rangers were in 1974. Mike Hargrove was the 1974 A.L. Rookie of the Year (George Brett was 3rd in voting) and, as you can see, got a little Topps trophy on his 1975 card.
In his rookie season, Hargrove batted .323 with 57 runs and 66 RBI
BEST ON-FIELD PHOTO
No deliberating on this one… this card is easily my favorite in this team set.
Check this out… on August 30, 1974 Dave Nelson walked to lead off the bottom of the first, stole second while Cesar Tovar was at bat, stole third while Jeff Burroughs was at bat and then stole home while Mike Hargrove was at bat. At the end of the inning the Rangers had scored one run on no hits and no errors.
This is from Jim Shellenback’s card:
Jim Gogolewski (Yes, the top left corner is missing… looks like I should upgrade this card)
“BEFORE HE WAS WHO HE WAS” GUY
Current Phillies manager Pete Mackanin’s rookie card came after he appeared in 44 games in 1973. He’d only appear in two games in 1974 and would get traded to the Expos after the season.
This card features Mackanin’s only cardboard with the Rangers, Manny Trillo’s only card with the A’s, and John Gamble’s only card, period (he appeared in 13 career games, all before this card came out) .
Dave Chalk appeared on a bunch of cards with the Angels… the spoilsport.
MOST CONSISTENT (IN A WAY) PITCHER
Jim Bibby won 19 games in 1974… and lost 19 games as well. 41 starts, 38 decisions, 11 complete games, 2 shutouts.
Bibby was originally signed by the Mets but went to the Cardinals in a 1971 8-player trade which included such luminaries as Art Shamsky, Jim Beauchamp and Chuck Taylor. Bibby served in Vietnam, no-hit the A’s in 1973, was part of a trade which brought Gaylord Perry from Cleveland to Texas, and started Games 4 and 7 for the Pirates in the 1979 World Series (getting a no-decision in both games).
Bibby’s brother Henry played in the NBA from 1972 to 1981 and his nephew Mike (Henry’s son) played in the NBA from 1998 to 2012.