texas rangers houston astros

We all love a good, historic rivalry in our sports, and few rivalries are as entertaining and storied as the rivalry fostered so enthusiastically between the Astros and Rangers. The tale of baseball in Texas goes back a long way, with much of the mist of legend about it; the modern rivalry between the state’s two Major League franchises is all the richer for the backdrop of the past. Often you will see echoes of history in the contesting of the Lone Star series, with present day players shadowed by their old-time fore-runners.

Out of the Past

Baseball began in Texas before the Civil War but became solidified with the founding of the Houston Base Ball Club in 1861. The club sought to imitate the success enjoined by Cartwright with the Knickerbocker Club. What worked in Manhattan would find purchase in Houston despite the Civil War: it is well known that soldiers on both sides found respite in the game when circumstances allowed. Veterans after the conflict found ‘solace and pleasant occupation of time’ in both the play and spectating of the sport. 1867 had the Houston Post record its first ever baseball report., with the San Jacinto Battlegrounds witnessing the defeat of the Galveston Lees by the Houston Stonewalls, 35-2. The language, the very soil of conflict, was part of Texan baseball from the beginning and would continue to fire the sporting rivalry to this day.

Starting Point: Houston

Houston was the starting point for the baseball game in Texas, and in 1888, Houston was a founder member of the Texan League. Baseball grew enormously in popularity at the close of the 19th century, and the antecedents of the Lone Star Series can be traced to the rampant baseball enthusiasm then evident. As the 20th century rolled around, there was a vibrant array of teams- from Austin to Waco. From this field of competitors, many rivalries emerged, and in college baseball, too. But one rivalry rules the roost in Texas, and that is the rivalry for the Lone Star Series.

Lone Star Roots

The Lone Star Series grew from several factors. The 50s saw a change in population and industry, a raising of profiles that directly and indirectly fed into Major League expansion in Texas. The Colt .45s (soon to be the Astros) emerged in 1962, and ten years later the relocation of the admittedly second-string Washington Senators to Arlington saw the birth of the Texas Rangers. Years of exhibitions and distaff meetings followed before the establishment of the Lone Star Series proper in 2001, and after much juggling and league adjustment, the Series has become a definite fixture and a firm favorite. Since this league play began in 2001, the record between them stands at 12-4 for the Rangers. Of the Astros four wins, the most recent came in 2015 after a drought since 2006.

While it is a rivalry to be sure, it has little trace of the bitterness that can spoil the sportsmanship of such occasions, and simmer between fans. The Lone Star Series has been described as being for fans of Texas, rather than for fans of a particular franchise. The winner for the 2017 Series will be feted of course, but whenever the Lone Series is contested, it is baseball that truly triumphs.