|First meeting||June 8, 2001|
The Ballpark in Arlington, Arlington, Texas
Astros 5, Rangers 4
|Latest meeting||September 18, 2019 |
Minute Maid Park, Houston, Texas
Astros 3, Rangers 2
|Next meeting||April 10, 2020|
|Regular season series||Rangers, 115-90 (.561)|
|Current win streak||Astros, 7|
The Lone Star Series (also known as the Silver Boot Series) is a Major League Baseball (MLB) rivalry featuring Texas' two major league franchises, the Houston Astros and Texas Rangers. It is an outgrowth of the "natural rivalry" established by MLB as part of interleague play as the Rangers are a member of the American League (AL) and the Astros were a member of the National League (NL) until 2012. During interleague play, the winner of the six game series was awarded the Silver Boot, a 30-inch (760 mm) tall display of a size 15 cowboy boot cast in silver, complete with a custom, handmade spur. If the series was split (3 to 3), the winner was the club which scored the most runs over the course of the series. In 2013, the Astros joined the American League West with the Rangers and changed their rivalry from an interleague to an intra-division rivalry.
The Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex (DFW) and Greater Houston areas have been rivals in sports and other areas for many years. Differences, not related to baseball, include the weather during the summer, population, cultural, and allegiance preferences between the different regions of Texas. Both Greater Houston and DFW have humid subtropical climates; however, DFW mostly has dry winds in the summer and sometimes icy conditions in the winter, with some frost at night, compared to Greater Houston's severe relative humidity and minimal wind, except near the coast, and milder winter conditions. The Metroplex is located inland in North Texas while Houston is in the face of the Gulf of Mexico in Southeast Texas. The city of Dallas has the 9th largest population in the United States and 3rd largest population in Texas; the city of Houston has the 4th largest population in the United States and largest population in Texas. DFW is the 4th largest metropolitan area in the US, while the Greater Houston area is the 5th largest in the US.
There is also contrast between the Rangers and Astros in their ballpark and uniform histories. The Rangers, until 2020, played in open-air stadiums (Arlington Stadium and Rangers Ballpark in Arlington), while the Astros have mostly played in indoor stadiums (Astrodome and Minute Maid Park). While the Rangers have traditionally worn variations of red, white, and blue to represent the Lone Star flag, the Astros have changed color schemes (e.g. Shooting Star of the late 1960s, Rainbow Guts) and logos many times throughout their history.
The Lone Star Series was the consequence of many things that happened to Texas in the 1950s: population shift westward from metropolitan areas on the East Coast, the space program, more modernized higher education, and the formation of the brief Continental League resulting in expansion in Major League Baseball shortly thereafter.
Prior to 1962, there were no Major League Baseball teams in Texas until the Houston Colt .45's of the National League. They played in Colt Stadium for the first three years of existence, fighting against hot and humid weather and outrageously large mosquitoes, which also had an effect on the fans. Unbelievably, they did not play a Sunday night baseball game at home until June 9, 1963, which was also the major leagues' first Sunday night game. The Astros, as they came to be with the new all-weathered Harris County Domed Stadium, really did not have a strong rivalry with any team in the NL, except for the St. Louis Cardinals and later on the Cincinnati Reds and Atlanta Braves.
During the planning of the second wave of expansion in the big leagues in 1968, the National League considered putting a new team in the Dallas-Fort Worth area by an overwhelming majority of its owners. However, Judge Roy Hofheinz did not want it to happen or allow it because he owned all the television and radio rights in Texas for Astros ballgames. The other owners were in favor, except Hofheinz, of having a rivalry approaching the intensity of the Dodgers-Giants rivalry in the Senior Circuit. San Diego and Montreal were selected instead. The Dallas-Fort Worth area would have to wait four more years for a team to arrive when the Senators (see below) moved to Arlington, Texas. It would be another 32 years before there was a meeting between the Rangers and Astros.
Before they were the Texas Rangers, the team belonged to the Beltway as the second version of the Washington Senators where they played mediocre baseball most of the time for the first 11 years of existence. They replaced the old Washington Senators who had moved to the Minneapolis-Saint Paul area to become the Minnesota Twins in 1961. The new Senators changed into the Texas Rangers in time for the 1972 season, and so a rivalry was born. (At one time, the Kansas City Athletics were interested in moving to the Dallas/Fort Worth area in the early 1960s but were voted down, 9-1, by the other American League owners.) The Astros have been in Texas ten years longer than the Rangers, but the Senators/Rangers franchise is one year older than the Astros. They met, starting in 1992, at the end of spring training with the Rangers winning 2-0 and claiming the very first Silver Boot. On April 1, 1993, Nolan Ryan returned to the Astrodome as a member of the Texas Rangers in front of 53,657, the biggest crowd to see a big league game in Texas up to that point. The Rangers won the last two exhibition games, a 6-5 victory in Arlington in 1999 and a 9-3 victory at Houston in 2000, before the two teams met for the first time in regular season in 2001.
One year before their first official matchup in interleague play, both teams retired the number of Hall of Famer Nolan Ryan, who had successful runs with both teams. During the 1997 off-season, "radical" realignment plans were bandied around about possibly rearranging teams from one league to another, especially Houston and Texas. In order to cut down on traveling costs and align teams together based on geography, the MLB owners came up with many plans to put the Astros and Rangers in a more suitable placement together. However, the American League and National League would lose their respective identities in the process. (The only move was the Brewers from the AL Central to the NL Central.) One of the plans in 2000 even featured the Texas Rangers in a six-team AL Central, so that they would be with other teams in the Central Time Zone, while the fledgling Arizona Diamondbacks would have had to leave the NL West for the AL West to replace the Rangers. During the 2005-06 off-season, the Florida Marlins were considering moving to San Antonio, among other cities, due to the lack of funding for a new stadium. Another professional baseball team in Texas, whether by relocation or expansion, in either league would create greater rivalries, similar to the kind in the NBA with the Spurs, Mavericks, and Rockets, and possible realignment issues.
The Lone Star Series was not conceived until 2001, four years after interleague play began. It was only logical to have the Rangers and Astros matched together since they are the only MLB teams representing Texas. Since both played in two different divisions (AL West and NL Central, respectively), Major League Baseball had to rectify the oversight even though interleague play would not be rotated from division to division on a yearly basis until 2002.
There has only been one rainout in the history of the Lone Star Series. A game scheduled for Sunday June 30, 2002, at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington was postponed due to rain and rescheduled for Monday, September 2. The Rangers won the last game of the year against the Astros, 7-2, in front of a crowd of 24,468, but the Astros won the Silver Boot regardless of the outcome of the game.
On July 1, 2006, Rangers outfielder Gary Matthews Jr. stole a home run from Astro Mike Lamb (a former Ranger) in what was considered one of the greatest catches of the decade according to MLB Network. At that time according to Lamb and Mark Teixeira, the Rangers-Astros "rivalry" was more for the fans in Texas than like a bitter rivalry (e.g. Windy City Series).
Beginning in 2008, the Lone Star Series saw for the first time two African-American managers go head-to-head against one another, the Astros' Cecil Cooper and the Rangers' Ron Washington. This situation lasted for two years. On February 6, 2008, Nolan Ryan became the Rangers' team president after being the special assistant to general manager, scouting players, and holding pitching camps with the Astros for the previous three seasons.
On August 18, 2009, the Rangers acquired Iván Rodríguez in a trade from the Houston Astros to help them down the stretch for the purpose of achieving their first playoff appearance in ten years. It was Rodriguez's second stint with Texas. The team had a winning season but did not qualify for the postseason.
On September 14, 2010, the Astros' Triple-A affiliate, the Round Rock Express, announced that they would become the Rangers' new minor league affiliate. This change left the Astros without a Triple-A team and the Rangers' old Triple-A team, the Oklahoma City RedHawks, without a parent club. On September 20, 2010, the Astros made the RedHawks their own affiliate. These changes went into effect for the 2011 season.
Major League Baseball approved the sale of the Astros on November 11, 2011, to Jim Crane on the condition they join the American League West. The Rangers, located in the Central Time Zone, had many of their games start late in the Pacific Time Zone due to the Angels, Athletics, and Mariners all being located on the West Coast. To help ease the Rangers' schedule, Commissioner Bud Selig required that the Astros join the AL West in 2013, so both teams would have another division rival in relatively close geographical proximity to one another while ensuring that both the AL West and the National League Central both would have the same number of teams as the other divisions. The move's consequence for the rest of the league resulted in all teams having to play interleague games year round due to the odd number of teams in each league. Another consequence would be an increase in intensity of the Lone Star baseball rivalry.
The Astros and Rangers played each other on Opening Day on March 31, 2013, with the Astros winning convincingly at home. The next game, Rangers pitcher Yu Darvish was one out away from a perfect game when Marwin González hit a single through Darvish's legs.
On February 11, 2014, Nolan Ryan returned to the Astros as an executive advisor to his son, Reid, the president of business operations; general manager Jeff Luhnow; and owner Jim Crane. Nolan Ryan is also the only person to be named DHL Hometown Hero by two organizations (the Rangers and the Astros).
In April 2015, a brawl started between Rougned Odor and Hank Conger; the brawl escalated when Astros manager A. J. Hinch shoved Prince Fielder, which was followed by Rangers manager Jeff Bannister yelling in Hinch's face, "Don't touch my guy!" In September 2015, with both teams in contention for the playoffs, the Astros and Rangers faced each other in a pivotal series, with Texas sweeping all four games. The Rangers, who entered the series 1.5 games behind Houston for the AL West lead, ended the series leading the Astros by 2.5 games. The Rangers would go on to clinch the 2015 AL West Division title, while the Astros entered the 2015 playoffs as a Wild Card team. The Rangers marked the AL West division title by taunting the Astros with a parody of the Astros' "Come And Take It!" campaign by proclaiming "We Came And Took It!" during a game at Globe Life Park.
In 2017, the rivalry between the Astros and Rangers continued to heat up. During a radio interview Rangers manager Jeff Bannister was quoted as saying, "All I know is they get to put Houston on their chest. We get to put Texas on ours." Astros pitcher Lance McCullers Jr. would fire back on Twitter stating, "It's because nobody knows what Arlington is." Later in the 2017 season after Hurricane Harvey hit Houston, controversy arose when the Astros and Rangers could not negotiate swapping series forcing the Astros to play a series of home games against the Rangers at the Tampa Bay Rays' stadium (Tropicana Field) in Florida. The Rangers would go on to win the series 2-1 but lose the season series 7-12. The Astros would go on to sweep the Rangers in the final three games of the series and outscore the Rangers 42-8 in the final four games. The Rangers did not make the 2017 playoffs, and the Astros would go on to clinch their first World Series championship, the first World Series Championship in the Astros-Rangers rivalry and the first World Series title for the State of Texas.
Houston was victorious in both the 2018 and 2019 Silver Boot Series as they won the AL West both seasons, making it three consecutive division titles for the club. Meanwhile, Texas continued to rebuild and had losing seasons for the second and third year in a row.
A total of 77 players have played for both franchises. But out of those 77, only 3 have played their entire careers for both teams: Chuck Jackson, Mike Richardt, and Mike Simms. Only six players have played for both the Rangers and Astros against their in-state opponent since 2001. Those players are: Doug Brocail,Mike Lamb,Richard Hidalgo,Ivan "Pudge" Rodríguez,Hunter Pence, and Robinson Chirinos.