On this date in Texas Rangers history, we witnessed one of the most iconic moments in franchise history.
On August 4, 1993, the tension between the Rangers and Chicago White Sox from several seasons boiled over when Nolan Ryan plunked Robin Ventura with the first pitch in his second at-bat of the game.
Ventura, 20 years Ryan's junior, took a few steps toward first base, then threw down his bat and helmet and charged the mound. Ryan, age 46, immediately put Ventura in a headlock and went to town on Chicago's Gold Glove third baseman, landing several shots to the head before the both benches encapsulated the duo in utter chaos.
"It was just self-preservation," Ryan said after the game. "I didn't expect that to happen. I was just trying to pitch him inside. You don't have time to think, you just react. I'm not a big believer in fights, but we'll do what it takes to win. ... I have nothing against Robin Ventura. The next time I face him, it won't even cross my mind."
Needless to say, Ventura did not believe Ryan.
"If you don't think he did it on purpose, you don't know the game," Ventura said. "I'm all right. He gave me a couple of noogies, but that was about it."
Ventura was not the only White Sox player to take exception to Ryan. "The whole world stops when that guy pitches," McDowell told the Chicago Sun-Times at the time. "It's like he's a god or something. He's been throwing at batters forever, and people are gutless to do anything about it."
Ventura was the only batter Ryan hit in 13 games that season.
Surprisingly, while Ventura and White Sox manager Gene Lamont were ejected from the ballgame, Ryan remained on the mound for Texas. First base umpire Richie Garcia justified Ryan, saying he was fully entitled to defend himself. Ryan had only been ejected one time in his career, which was by Garcia in a 1992 game with the Oakland Athletics.
The Rangers went on to win the game by a score of 5-2. Ryan earned his third win of the season, giving up two runs (one earned) on three hits with five strikeouts and two walks in seven strong innings. The win pulled the Rangers to within 5 1/2 games of the White Sox in the American League West division, though the White Sox would prevail at season's end, winning the division. Chicago lost to the eventual World Series champion Toronto Blue Jays in the AL Championship Series.
But the moment that lives on from 1993 is this day when the Ryan Express further cemented his legacy in Texas.
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Also on this date …
August 4, 2005: The Rangers added one player and a former voice of the Rangers to its Hall of Fame: play-by-play announcer Mark Holtz and pitcher John Wetteland.
Holtz broadcast Rangers games from 1982-1997 as part of several announcer lineups, and for both radio and television. But he entered the hearts of Rangers fans during his partnership with Eric Nadel on the Rangers’ flagship radio network in the 1980s and early 1990s.
In 1995, after the Rangers moved into their new stadium, Holtz moved from the radio booth to the broadcast booth to call games for local television, including Fox Sports Southwest. His partners for those games included former Rangers general manager Tom Grieve.
Holtz fell ill in 1997 and eventually revealed he had cancer, leaving the broadcast booth on May 22. He died on September 7, 1997.
But Holtz’s legacy lives on through a the Mark Holtz Foundation, which raises money for cancer research, and through his words “Hello Win Column!”, which flash on the scoreboard after every Rangers home victory. Mark Holtz Lake also sits nearby both Globe Life Field and Globe Life Park in Arlington
Wetteland played four seasons for the Rangers from 1997-2000. He signed with the Rangers as a free agent after anchoring the New York Yankees’ bullpen to the 1996 World Series title. Wetteland saved 150 games for the Rangers in four seasons, helping them to a pair of AL West crowns.
August 4, 2013: Ron Washington won game No. 582 as Rangers manager, putting him at the top of the team’s all-time list.
Promo photo: AP photo / Linda Kaye
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