The Long Wait Ends: Unpacking the Texas Rangers’ 2023 Victory
“At last.” This term has found its way into nearly every recounting of the Texas Rangers’ 2023 World Series triumph. One might consult the Oxford English Dictionary, which explains ‘finally’ as ‘after a long time, especially when there has been some difficulty or delay.’ This prompts an inquiry: how do we gauge the length of this wait, and who bore the brunt of its difficulty? Within the current roster, only José Leclerc has donned the Rangers’ uniform for seven years. For most, their tenure is but one or two years—scarcely an eternity. Yet, the true measure extends back to 1972 and is etched in the hearts of the fans.
As ardent spectators of sports, we are acutely aware that the outcomes of games and the glitter of trophies are dwarfed by the grave human suffering in places like Ukraine or Gaza, where innocent lives are besieged with violence. To dismiss the significance of sports as mere diversion would be a reductive misstep. For the steadfast supporters of the Rangers since their inception in 1972, the team is not just a pastime but a tapestry of communal sentiment, weaving highs and lows into a shared narrative. Through more than five decades, those followers have endured many trials, savoring the fleeting joys, until this momentous pinnacle. The journey has indeed been long and trying.
Reflecting on my personal history with the team, since 1972, I have frequented various games, crossing the threshold of three stadiums in Arlington that the Rangers have called home. I’ve been a spectator to the managerial prowess of Ted Williams and Billy Martin. I’ve witnessed the legendary Nolan Ryan pitch a no-hitter and Juan González’s power at the plate. I’ve admired Buddy Bell’s defensive artistry at third base and chuckled at Charlie Hough lighting up in the dugout. My memories include Benji Gil’s errant throws, Iván ‘Pudge’ Rodriguez’s skill in thwarting base thieves, Will Clark’s near-home runs, and Adrián Beltré’s deft plays. I have observed Michael Young’s precision in hitting, Rusty Greer’s effort to stretch hits, and Josh Hamilton’s awe-inspiring homers—alongside his tragic fall. I’ve been present for Neftalí Féliz’s memorable strikeout and shared the collective heartache as Nelson Cruz missed a crucial catch in the World Series. These moments are significant, but they pale in comparison to the camaraderie among fans.
The connections formed in the stands, amidst a mosaic of seating experiences, are enduring. Recollections of games shared with family—my uncle who introduced me to the team, the youth baseball team I coached braving the Texas heat, the loving patience of my wife at games, and the generosity of a friend who provided tickets in lean times—these are cherished. The playoffs have been especially poignant, marking the introduction to my future daughter-in-law, a surprise only a son could arrange. Games have facilitated bonding with friends, family, colleagues, and acquaintances.
However, the victory brought a bittersweet reflection. This year, I lost my brother-in-law, an ardent Rangers fan. Our bond was not the closest, but our most meaningful exchanges revolved around Rangers baseball—a passion he inherited and shared widely. Though he did not witness the ‘final’ victory, his dedication through the lengthy and challenging periods is emblematic of many who have held the Rangers dear, including those who now support from afar—in states across the U.S. and even as distant as The Netherlands.
Thus, ‘finally’ does not encapsulate the culmination of the Rangers’ fans’ experience. It is merely a milestone. The banner that will be hoisted in the new air-conditioned stadium with a roof is not an end, but a symbol of continuity for a fanbase whose commitment transcends the cyclical nature of seasons, ready to embark on another arduous voyage come the Spring Training of 2024.