With the Rangers’ victory, an overlooked city in Texas is in the spotlight

During baseball season, public buses in Houston flash the message as they rumble through the city: “Go Astros!!”

A similar kind of shared baseball spirit did not usually surround the Texas Rangers, the team whose claim to the hearts of all Texans was until their World Series victory over the Arizona Diamondbacks on Wednesday, were capped by having never won a championship in their 51 years since moving to the North Texas city of Arlington.

Sandwiched between Dallas and Fort Worth, the city forms an almost seamless part of a sprawling urban agglomeration, a fast-growing and sports-crazed area of ​​the state where winners are prized and football — specifically, the Dallas Cowboys — has been dominant.

But as the Rangers kept winning and winning, the fans showed up. The excitement in October became palpable in the connected cities.

By Halloween, people in the Dallas suburbs were holding parties in their driveways, turning on outdoor televisions or projecting key game 4 to the garage door. Children carrying buckets of candy passed each other on the sidewalk with brief announcements: “The Rangers are up!”

When second baseman Marcus Semien hit a three-run home run in the third inning to give the Rangers a 10-0 lead, cheers echoed throughout the neighborhood.

The feeling was a long time coming.

Tim Cowlishaw recalled going to the first game held in Arlington in 1972 when he was 17 years old. The Washington Senators were lured to the city and named after the Texas Rangers, an elite law enforcement division of the state police with a complicated history of heroism and cruelty.

“It was a very, very minor-league park, and they just put in the bleachers,” said Mr. Cowlishaw, a veteran sports columnist for the Dallas Morning News. “We were thrilled just to see the other teams come and visit.”

The Astros, on the other hand, already had the Astrodome, a colossal indoor stadium with the first turf in the league.

The Rangers were cherished by Arlington residents and civic leaders, who built newer stadiums for them over the years. But they frustrated fans across Dallas, who watched other sports franchises come in and take it all: the Stars (1999 Stanley Cup champions), the Mavericks (2011 NBA champions).

“The Rangers are for everybody,” Jim Ross, Arlington’s mayor, said in an interview before Game 5 on Wednesday. “We struggled. But it’s our baby.”

For years, the Rangers were overlooked, even in Texas, much like the city they hail from, lost among their much larger neighbors. “Arlington has a population of 400,000,” said Mayor Ross. “That’s bigger than Pittsburgh, Cleveland and St. Louis. Louis.”

Now, like those cities, Arlington will finally arrive host of the World Series victory parade first time on friday.

Tommy Bird, 54, who works at O’Reilly Auto Parts, watched the final game of the Series Wednesday night at Bobby V’s Sports Gallery Cafe, an Arlington restaurant founded by former Rangers manager Bobby Valentine. It is the same place where Mr. Bird came the last time his team reached the World Series in 2011 against the St. Louis Cardinals.

Standing side by side with other fans, he recalled the feeling of anticipation that year – with victory on the way – followed by the crushing disappointment after missed fly ball they opened the door to a final defeat in seven games.

“All we had to do was catch that ball,” said Mr. Bird. “This place has fallen into complete dead silence. It was creepy. Everyone was shocked.”

In the years since, the Houston Astros have established themselves, winning two World Series titles and becoming a regular presence in the postseason. Their success, like the Rangers’ failures, has been a point of pride for some Houstonians, who often see themselves in competition with Dallas.

“It’s really a one-way rivalry,” said Bud Kennedy, a columnist for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, describing the competition between the state’s largest urban areas. “Houston fantasizes about Dallas all the time. Dallas doesn’t even think about Houston. You talk about Houston to people here and they say, ‘oh yeah, Houston.'”

The Rangers’ road to the World Series championship led right through Houston and the defending champion Astros. In a series that was bitterly contested last month, the Rangers won in seven games.

Even after that, some buses in Houston still cheered for the Astros, as did most baseball fans in the city. Most Halloween trick-or-treating in Houston didn’t feature World Series viewing parties or game updates. While North Texas newspapers offered special editions of the Rangers on Thursday, the Houston Chronicle barely noticed the news on his front page.

On Wednesday night at Bobby V’s, Angela Rivera watched the first few innings quietly in the bleachers. Ms. Rivera, 60, said she has been a Rangers fan since moving to Arlington a year before the team arrived there, and went to the original ballpark with her father as a child.

She sat with a neatly folded White Spirit towel from the 2011 World Series. Occasionally she would whisper, “Come on, guys.”

Fans have been flocking to Bobby V’s since the 1980s, when Mr. Valentin opened the restaurant. Then he could be found walking around chatting with customers, recalled Mr. Bird, who said he had been coming to the restaurant since the early days. The walls are lined with memorabilia from the Rangers and other Dallas-area teams, including the Cowboys, who moved from nearby Irving to Arlington in 2009.

That year, the city of Arlington, home of the original Six Flags Over Texas theme park, attempted a rebrand of sorts, adopting the tagline: “And the crowd goes wild.” It didn’t last.

Still, Arlington kept faith in its baseball team, funding a new stadium with a retractable dome — the third team in town — to keep the Rangers.

“These are people who have invested their money and their passion to support Rangers baseball,” Mr. Kennedy said. “They feel like Dallas is at the back of the wagon being dragged along.”

As Wednesday’s game went without a run, Chad Bowlin pulled out his phone at Bobby Va’s to show his friends how expensive tickets were for a possible Game 6 in Arlington on Friday if the Rangers lost.

He flipped through the lists, chatting as he did so. Then he looked down to see an unexpected and unwelcome message: “Order Completed.” When he called to try to cancel the ticket purchase, he was told that all sales were final.

“I paid $960,” he said in astonishment.

Soon the Rangers scored the first run, and the restaurant came alive. When the Rangers took a 5-0 lead in the ninth inning, everyone stood. Ms. Rivera waved her spirit towel and began the Rangers chant.

And as the Rangers secured the victory with a shot, the crowd erupted. The man wiped the tears from his eyes. Mr. Bird hugged his son.

Mr. Bowlin threw his hands in the air, jubilant for two reasons: After 40 years of cheering, his team had finally won a World Series for his hometown. And the tickets he bought were now invalid. He was assured of a refund.

“I’m not going to the World Series!” he shouted.

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