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Washington, Texas Ranger

Photo by Daniel Kay

Photo by Daniel Kay

The Texas Rangers of these days are not easily unscrambled. You see, they are the offspring of the Washington Senators --but not the Washington Senators.

Those Senators blew town and headed for Minnesota, where they became known as the Twins.

Their tracks were barely cold before a hotel man named Bob Short picked up their rag-tag remains and began operation under the same old name, but little changed until he had a brain-flash.

He hired Ted Williams to manage.

Now, no one had ever considered "The Splendid Splinter" as managerial material. Not even himself, who once said to me that "all managers are losers. They are the most expendable pieces of furniture in the building."

And nobody would argue that with him.

But his first season on the job, Ted's Senators finished fourth in the American League and Baseball Writers of America were so stunned they voted him "Manager of the Year."

A couple of years later, Bob Short felt the urge to share his treasure, so he moved the Senators from Washington to Texas, and so we had the first "Texas Rangers."

Spring training at Pompano Beach that year was a circus. Teddy Ballgame held press conferences in the Rangers dugout, covering a plethora of topics that happened to be splashed in his lap, most of all dealing with his scientific approach to hitting.

That, he was at home with -- but as time passed and these Rangers got down to business, it became more obvious that whoever had said that "great players don't make great managers" might have been right.

Ted didn't have to be fired.

He couldn't get out of Texas fast enough, never to be invited to manage by anybody, anywhere again.

So that's how American League baseball happened to come to Texas, in the escort of the "greatest hitter of all time," as Ted Williams has come to be addressed by many.

Let's see, that year was 1972, and until now only one World Series had found it's way to the Lone Star State -- but that was the Houston Astros in 2005.

And as irony would have it, the manager of the host team is a man named Washington.

Ron Washington had spent most of his playing career as a utility infielder on four teams, but actually, his name rarely made headlines until a story broke that he had dabbled with cocaine at an earlier age.

It was, it seemed, much ado about little, though he did confess that it was, indeed, true.

Which he regretted, and that no habit had resulted from it, and so it all was sort of whisked away with the wind.

Now, of course, it has surfaced, but mainly, I'd suppose, because the media could content itself by saying it had covered all bases.

Considering the strange situation of the Texas Rangers, here is a team that opened the season in bankruptcy and now finds itself in the World Series.

And that the face of the franchise is one of its former pitchers -- and whose number has been retired by the franchise he now heads as president.

Yep, Nolan Ryan's last five seasons in uniform were spent with the Rangers.

The first time I saw him on the mound, he was pitching out of the bullpen for the New York Mets in 1969.

Last time I had a chance to see him in action, he had to leave the game while warming up in Texas. His aging arm was not fit for duty that night.

So, there is much entwining history here.

From Washington, the captal, to Washington, the manager.

From Ryan, the celebratedpitcher, to Ryan, the Rangers president.

And just whom did Ron Washington replace as manager?

Buck Showalter, manager of the year before he was fired, now managing the Baltimore Orioles -- which, I'd say, is enough complexity to leave you with.