One thing about the Texas Rangers: Historically, they've excelled at swinging the bats.
Right-hander Nolan Ryan, that fastball-firing Texan, may forever remain the franchise's most popular figure. But his successors as the Rangers' biggest stars have been primarily sluggers, including the likes of Juan Gonzalez, Ivan "Pudge" Rodriguez and Adrián Beltré. Some of their memorabilia might have been difficult to track down because they were baseballs that they propelled over an outfield wall and into a sea of fans or down a concourse.
The National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum's collection of more than 40,000 three-dimensional pieces contains artifacts that tell the story of the game's legendary players, moments and triumphs. Beginning this summer and running through the end of 2020, the Museum will share some of those memorable artifacts through a new limited-time experience: Starting Nine, which features nine artifacts from each of the 30 current MLB franchises. Whether you've visited before, or you've always wanted to check it out, this is another great reason to plan a visit to the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum -- the spiritual home of America's Pastime -- in beautiful Cooperstown, New York.
1. Maximum efficiency
Fun facts: Ron Hansen's contribution to Rangers history dates back to when the team was known as the Washington Senators and played in the nation's capital. Hansen, playing shortstop for the Senators on July 30, 1968, in Cleveland, grabbed Joe Azcue's line drive up the middle with Dave Nelson on first base and Russ Snyder on second. Both runners broke on Bruce Howard's full-count pitch to Azcue. Since Hansen was moving to his left as he corralled Azcue's smash, he had no trouble stepping on second base to retire Nelson. Chasing and tagging Snyder, who was racing toward second, was just as easy. This was about the only thing that went right for the Senators that night. Hansen struck out in all four of his plate appearances and Washington lost, 10-1. Depicted is the glove Hansen used to turn the first unassisted triple play in 41 years.
2. Short on rest, long on results
Fun facts: This explains why Nolan Ryan is so beloved: He donned this cap on May 1, 1991, and pitched a day earlier than scheduled so he could make an extra start for the home fans at Arlington Stadium. Ryan thrilled his admirers by recording his seventh no-hitter, in which he walked two Blue Jays and struck out 16 as Texas triumphed, 3-0.
3. Bringing them home
Fun facts: Gonzalez used this bat to drive in a record 35 runs in April 1998 en route to his second American League Most Valuable Player Award. Gonzalez, who hit 40 or more home runs five times, tops the Rangers' all-time lists with 372 home runs and 1,180 RBIs.
4. Make sure to catch his act
Fun facts: Rodriguez, lovingly known as "Pudge," enjoyed a dream season in 1999. He used this bat to clobber his 35th home run of the year, a new AL record for catchers. He also won the AL Most Valuable Player Award.
5. A big stick in September
Fun facts: This was a bat that shortstop Alex Rodriguez used during September 2002, when he accumulated nine homers and 23 RBIs to reach his Major League-leading totals of 57 homers and 142 RBIs. He also earned his sixth of 10 Silver Slugger Awards.
6. Everybody hits
Fun facts: On Aug. 22, 2007, the Rangers reached their awesome potential. They outdistanced Baltimore, 30-3, collecting six home runs, 29 hits and eight walks in the process. Ironically, the ball shown here had nothing to do with the Rangers' prolific offense. It's the ball that reliever Wes Littleton threw for the game's final out. Because Littleton pitched three innings, he qualified and received credit for a save after preserving Texas' 27-run lead.
7. Bengie's record-breaking bashing
Fun facts: Bengie Molina was not known for being fleet of foot, but the catcher summoned all of his speed to reach third base on July 16, 2010, at Fenway Park. With the eighth-inning triple, Molina became the Majors' only catcher to record a grand slam -- with the bat shown here -- while hitting for the cycle.
8. Top hitter's tunic
Fun facts: It was a given that Michael Young would reach a significant milestone, due to his consistency at the plate. This was the jersey he wore on Aug. 7, 2011, when he recorded his 2,000th career hit in a 5-3 victory over Cleveland. Young ended his Rangers tenure with a franchise-record 2,230 hits.
9. Beltré's big belts
Fun facts: Sometimes it seemed that Beltré should have worn a cape with an "S" embroidered on it for "Superman." Instead, Beltré wore this jersey when he hit three homers to help the Rangers defeat the Tampa Bay Rays in Game 4 of the 2011 AL Division Series and advance to the AL Championship Series. Beltré thus tied a record for most homers in a postseason game.