Boy, I watched a lot of bad Rangers baseball growing up as a new baseball fan in the early 2000’s.
I thought it was awesome that the sport’s biggest star in Alex Rodriguez was playing for my favorite team and putting up monstrous numbers, but when October came around, my team was nowhere to be found. Most summers, they weren’t even close. After Pudge Rodriguez left via free agency after the 2002 season and Alex Rodriguez was traded before the start of the 2004 season, the Rangers needed a new face of their franchise. They had several young and likable candidates in Hank Blalock and Mark Teixeira, but one guy took this role by the horns over the next few seasons: Michael Young.
As he began to establish himself as one of the premiere hitters in baseball with a batting title in 2005, six consecutive All-Star appearances from 2004-2009 and five consecutive 200 hit seasons from 2003-2007, the Rangers still struggled to play winning baseball around him. Slowly but surely, the winning pieces were beginning to assemble. An Ian Kinsler here. An Elvis Andrus there. Then the addition of Josh Hamilton in 2008. By 2010, the young and lovable Rangers were ready for contention with Young playing a huge role in it.
The 2010 Rangers clinching the American League West in Oakland was great. Cliff Lee dominating the Tampa Bay Rays in a decisive ALDS game five at Tropicana Field was even better. The first ever American League Championship Series game at The Ballpark was almost the best when they hosted the Yankees. Nothing was quite like the magic of young closer Neftali Feliz striking out the villainous A-Rod to clinch the franchise’s first American League pennant in front of the home fans back on October 22nd, 2010.
The celebration on the field was madness as the lovable likes of late-blooming Nelson Cruz, future Hall of Famer Vladimir Guerrero, veteran starter Colby Lewis among others creating a pile of men in between home plate and the mound as fireworks shot into the October sky and fans endlessly shouted and celebrated. Young was in the middle of it all and when legendary reporter Craig Sager pulled him aside for an interview, “Mr. Ranger” had a badass answer for what this moment meant to him:
“It means the World Series is coming to Texas.”
The line (found at about the 3:12:30 mark of the video above) still sends a shiver down my spine as the explosion of sound from the 51,404 in attendance that night served as an enormous thank you to Young for all he had done for the franchise up to that point.
I’ve heard the likes of Eric Nadel, Josh Lewin, Steve Busby, Dave Raymond, etc. say hundreds (if not a few thousand) of different names while watching and listening to Rangers baseball on the TV or on the radio throughout many summers of my life. Some guys just go in one ear and out the other as their impact on the team is limited to just a forgettable few games, but very few are able to have the lasting impact of a player and man like Michael Young.
A leader on and off the field, it has been delightful to see him continue to be associated with the Texas Rangers after his playing days are over and it will be incredible to see his #10 rightfully sit next to the other retired numbers in left field at Globe Life Park tomorrow night and for the rest of this season. My three-year-old son is absolutely in love with baseball and while he loves cheering for Joey Gallo and “Unter Ence” (Hunter Pence), I can’t wait for him to one day ask me why the number 10 is displayed in the outfield at the new Globe Life Field. Continuing to share the lasting legacy of Michael Young is something all Ranger fans should be excited to do for generations to come.
Thank you, Michael, and congratulations.
— Texas Rangers (@Rangers) August 27, 2019
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