By Ken Foote

Can you believe that the Texas Rangers have been playing professional baseball in the Dallas/Fort Worth area since 1972? 40 years?

It was my senior year in high school in Dallas when things started moving. The Dallas Cowboys were about to win their first Super Bowl under Coach Tom Landry. We had an ABA team called the Dallas Chaparrals. We had a minor league hockey team with the Dallas Blackhawks. We had two major PGA events: the Byron Nelson and the Colonial. But we did not have a MLB franchise.

In 1971 it was announced that Bob Short, the owner of the Washington Senators, would be relocating his team to the DFW area and renaming it the Texas Rangers. They would play in Turnpike Stadium which later was renamed Arlington Stadium, with a capacity of nearly 36,000. There was a player’s strike in 1972 but by April 15, 1972, the Rangers played their first game there. They lost to the California Angels, 1-0.

The club has had several famous owners in its history, such as former President George W. Bush and Oklahoma media giant Edward L. Gaylord. In 1986, Gaylord owned 30% of the Club and attempted to acquire the remaining 70%. KTVT, which was part of the Gaylord empire from 1962-1999, carried 95 games a year and was at one time distributed via satellite by United Video all over the Western Hemisphere of the Earth. I was here at that time and used to get letters from Mexico, Canada, and the Caribbean. Everyone loved the idea of the Rangers potentially being seen so widely. Unfortunately, the MLB owners at the time rejected Gaylord’s offer, fearing the invasion of his Texas Rangers telecasts into other MLB markets. Gaylord later sold out. Eddie Childs, owner of the oil company The Western Company of North America, was an owner (he used to air TV commercials with the tag line, “If you don’t have an oil well, get one! You’ll love doing business with Western!”).  E.W. “Rusty” Rose, the man behind ACE Cash Express, was an owner as well as Tom Hicks, former owner of the Dallas Stars. Today, the club is headed by Nolan Ryan, one of the most extraordinary players ever to play the game. Nolan is the Club’s President and CEO.

KRLD 1080 carried the games that first year but for a better part of this time the games were heard on WBAP 820 with Mark Holtz and Eric Nadel. The radio rights later moved back to KRLD AM/FM for a short period of time until a couple of years ago where they are now on ESPN 103.3 FM. Eric Nadel and Steve Busby are the current radio announcers.

KTVT starting carrying the games back in the mid 1980’s. KXAS had carried some games a few years before as well as Home Sports Entertainment on cable (HSE is now FOX Sports Net Southwest which continues to carry many games). When I got here in 1987, Bob Carpenter and Steve Busby were the announce team. After Bob left, Steve and Jim Sunberg were the team. After KTVT became a CBS station, the games were produced by LIN Productions and aired on KXTX Channel 39. In 2000, the TV rights moved to FOX with games on KDFW, KDFI, and FOX Sports SW (all three entities were owned by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation). In 2010, the over the air TV rights moved to KTXA where they have been since, along with FOX Sports Southwest for the cable rights. Given the Rangers’ tremendous success in the past several years, many of their games are picked up nationally by ESPN and the FOX Television Network. Today the TV announcers are Dave Barnett and Tom Grieve.

All of us at KTVT/KTXA are proud of our association with the Texas Rangers and wish them the very best for a great 2012 season. Don’t forget that Friday Night Baseball starts Friday, April 13th at 7pm against the Minnesota Twins. Pregame is at 6:30pm with Gina Miller, Bill Jones, Mark McLemore, and Evan Grant.

See you next time.