Major League Baseball is promoting an effort to identify the best four players in each team’s history with their "Franchise Four." We selected our choices for Mt. Rushmores a few years ago. Here are updated versions for all 30 teams. Who are the four baseball players that have risen above all others for each organization? The question sounds simple, right? Not so fast. Let the arguments begin.
Texas Rangers Mt. Rushmore
The Washington Senators bumbled through the 1960s, beginning play in 1961 before moving to the Dallas area and becoming the Texas Rangers in 1972. It wasn’t until 2010, when the Rangers defeated the Tampa Bay Rays in the ALDS, that the franchise won its first playoff series. In fact, it had won only one playoff game prior to that. So, there isn’t a strong history of winning. The Senators/Rangers have won 90 or more games just seven times (including four in a row from 2010-13) and have lost 100 games or more six times — four times in Washington, twice in Texas. There have been only three 20-game winners. There is brief flirtation with greatness, though. Alex Rodriguez played shortstop here in his prime. Hall of Famers Gaylord Perry, Ferguson Jenkins, Bert Blyleven and Nolan Ryan all spent some time as the ace of the pitching staff. Leading the Washington Senators was Ted Williams’ only managing job. He served one season in Texas after three in Washington. Gil Hodges, Don Zimmer, Whitey Herzog, Billy Martin, Bobby Valentine, Buck Showalter, Mickey Vernon and Eddie Stanky all had stints leading the team from the dugout. Yet, manager Johnny Oates and Nolan Ryan are the only men whose numbers have been retired by the organization. All that is to say that the Mt. Rushmore in North Texas is still maturing. Perhaps, we shouldn’t etch these faces in stone quite yet. Beyond Ivan Rodriguez and Michael Young, the arguments begin to get interesting and cloudy. Here’s our take, however temporary this may be.
After spending his first 12 seasons in Texas, the nomadic catcher left prior to the 2003 season and has since won a World Series, lost a World Series, earned three Gold Gloves and made four All-Star teams. While he was with Texas, he made 10 All-Star teams, won 10 Gold Gloves and an MVP award. He has more than 1,700 hits and more than 800 runs and RBIs for the Rangers. A certain Hall of Famer, Pudge will go into the Hall as a Ranger.
There are probably no better examples of a company man in baseball. Young excelled at three different positions, and was asked by the organization to move three times. After a couple of seasons as a second baseman, he was asked to move to short. After five All-Star seasons at the position, he was asked to move to third the year after winning a Gold Glove. He again made the All-Star team as a third baseman and was asked to assume a utility role. Through all that Young amassed the most hits, runs, doubles and triples in franchise history.
Ryan pitched his sixth and seventh no-hitters for the Rangers, and his roughing up of Robin Ventura is reason enough to consider the Ryan Express as a permanent icon in Texas. However, it was his leadership that built one of the best organizations in baseball as the Rangers appeared in back-to-back World Series in 2010-11.
Gonzalez was in a Rangers’ uniform for 13 seasons, earning two MVP awards. He led the American League in home runs twice and hit more than 40 on three other occasions. He also topped the circuit in RBIs once. He leads the franchise in home runs, RBIs and total bases.
Perhaps, if he hadn’t shaken his finger at Congress, then tested positive for steroids, Rafael Palmeiro might well be on the list. He ranks high in most statistical categories, but he was in the top eight in MVP voting just twice as a Ranger.
Charlie Hough, with his knuckleball, is the all-time wins leader with 139.
Few fans in Dallas will remember the Capital Punisher, Frank Howard, since he spent only five months in a Rangers uniform. He was a feared hitter in the 1960s, spending the majority of eight seasons with the franchise. He was the Senators’ lone star and enjoyed back-to-back-to-back seasons of 44+ home runs in 1968-70, truly a second dead ball era. He finished in the top eight in MVP voting three times for the Senators.
Hall of Famer Ferguson Jenkins had the best season of any pitcher in a Ranger uniform with 25 wins in 1974. In six seasons spread over two stints, Jenkins won 93 games and pitched 17 shutouts.
Jeff Burroughs became the franchise’s first major award winner with the 1974 MVP.
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Other teams' Mt. Rushmores: