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T.R.'s Memoirs

T.R.’s Memoirs: How Major League Baseball came to Arlington. Part II: Senators in session

(AP file photo)

 

Editor’s note: T.R. Sullivan covered the Rangers for 32 years and is sharing his memoirs exclusively with readers of this newsletter. This week: a three-part history that examines the long road baseball took to get Major League Baseball to Arlington.

The franchise that eventually became the Texas Rangers came to life on Nov. 17, 1960, when American League president Joe Cronin announced the league would expand by two teams. One team would be the Washington Senators, effectively replacing the team that had just fled to Minnesota.

This decision was painfully obvious. Baseball needed a team in the nation’s capital to placate real Senators and Congressmen who were debating whether the sport should keep its precious antitrust exemption.

The topic dominated baseball politics in the 1950s. The sport was awash with antitrust litigation all through the decade. A young lawyer named Bowie Kuhn began his baseball career litigating antitrust cases.

In Washington, congressional committees were constantly holding hearings on the subject with a parade of famous players and characters asked to testify. Commissioner Ford Frick spent much of his time testifying on Capitol Hill and placating lawmakers.

Cronin announced the league would also petition Major League Baseball to allow for expansion into Los Angeles, thereby frustrating the hopes of Dallas-Fort Worth officials who desperately wanted the second team. DFW appeared to be the front-runner until the Yankees – facing an invasion of their turf by a new National League team – decided to retaliate by placing an AL team on the Dodgers’ home turf in Los Angeles.

The American League needed to be on the West Coast, at that moment the exclusive domain of the Dodgers and San Francisco Giants. Getting all that sorted out would take more time and wasn’t completed until Dodgers owner Walter O’Malley received $350,000 as territorial compensation.

T.R. Sullivan

T.R. is a Military Brat and graduate of the University of San Francisco who retired in 2020 after a 40-year career with the Denison Herald, Fort Worth Star-Telegram and MLB.Com. He covered the Texas Rangers for 32 years.

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