Around the first of April, 55 years ago, I turned on my radio and listened to the first regular season baseball game of the new franchise, the Houston Colt 45’s. The name, by the way, was based on the firearm not the malt liquor. The 45’s joined the National league along with the New York Mets and finished ahead of them in their first full season. Three years later, after the completion of the Astrodome, the team changed their name to the Astros.
Not always a die-hard baseball fan, I followed the Astros through thick and thin. Through two marriages, a divorce, three kids, five grandchildren, three jobs, college degrees, I followed the Astros. Back in the day, the Astros were the only major league baseball team in the State of Texas. At some point, the Washington Senators moved from DC to the Metroplex and became the Texas Rangers. The Rangers were in the American League so I had no trouble pulling for them and hoping that one day the Rangers and Astros would meet for the World Series.
The Astros had some good years but have had many lean years. They made it to the World Series in 2005 but lost in four games. They have had some excellent players such as J. R. Richards, Rusty Staub, Jimmy Wynn, the Toy Cannon, Nolan Ryan, Greg Biggio, Jeff Bagwell, and the other Killer B’s. However, save for the 2005 season, they never were a really successful franchise. In addition, following the 2005 season the number of victories began to decline and the number of losses began to increase. The Rangers began to improve and competed in the World Series on two different occasions. It was easy to be supportive of the Rangers since the two clubs were in different leagues.
A few years ago, Jim Crane, made a bid to purchase the Astros, and as part of the agreement was requested to change the team to the American League. Additionally, they were placed in the same division as the Texas Rangers. As this happened, the Astros really hit bottom; they became the worst team in baseball. Competing against the Rangers, I found several Ranger fans with whom I have developed a rivalry. It was rough sledding since the Rangers had no trouble winning the yearly series against the Astros.
In 2015, the Astros began to change things and became more competitive. I could actually tease Bob, Beth, and Casey, great Ranger fans, because the Astros were in first place during the time we were all in Mexico on Isla Mujeres. Then the Rangers eventually finished in first place and played in the World Series. The Astros lost in the divisional playoffs.
After an off year in 2016, the Astros took off in 2017. Once again I could argue with my Ranger fans about which team would finish in first. The Rangers had an off year and as everyone knows, the Astros beat the Red Sox, the Yankees, then Dodgers to win the World Series; the first team from Texas to win the series. I have discovered that many Rangers fans are not happy that the Astros won. There seems to be some bad feelings around north Texas. It seems that it could almost be Red Sox – Yankees bad blood. Well you know what Ranger fans? Tough. The Astros are world champions and the Rangers are just another team. This year anyway.
Bob Newby is an educator and Erath County resident. He is a member of the E-T's community columnists and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.