From the Annals of Weaponry – In 1846, Captain Samuel Walker of the Texas Rangers procured an order of 1,000 revolvers for gunmaker Samuel Colt. Colt had previously produced the Paterson Revolver which proved to be useful but too fragile for rough conditions and ready use. As a result, Colt’s business had gone bankrupt. His friend, Walker, pointed out the problems with the Paterson and suggested improvements to the trigger and the need for a pistol that did not require removal of the barrel for reloading. Colt was eager to restart his business and agreed with Walker’s suggestions and made some additional improvements on his own.
The result was the most powerful handgun yet made. The six-shot “Walker” Colt had a 9 inch barrel, a longer cylinder than the five-shot Paterson and was manufactured in .44 caliber rather than .36, and was easily reloaded. The big gun weighed a hefty 5 pounds, but the longer barrel and weight improved its accuracy.
Colt needed a buyer and Walker went to straight to President Polk to whom he was known from his army and Texas Ranger exploits. The celebrated Texas Ranger explained the benefits and need for Colt’s new revolver. Polk immediately ordered his Secretary of War to purchase 1,000 of the revolvers for twenty-five dollars each. Colt contracted with Eli Whitney to manufacture the weapons. The power and accuracy of the new weapon completely changed the ability of mounted fighters to conduct operations from the saddle.
From the Annals of the Outlaws – In 1878, Texas Rangers mortally wounded Texas outlaw Sam Bass in Round Rock. Bass had been on a crime spree for about a year after joining a gang that robbed a Union Pacific train in Nebraska. With his share of the loot, Bass formed his own gang which held up stage coaches and trains around Dallas. A concerted effort to find the outlaw was unsuccessful until the Texas Rangers turned to some rather unethical tactics. The Rangers took into custody for questioning the father of Bass gang member Jim Murphy. Murphy’s father was very ill. The Rangers withheld medical treatment sending a message to Murphy that if he did not meet with them, they would continue to hold his father without treatment. Murphy agreed to the meeting and turned informant to save his father – revealing that Bass planned to rob the Williamson County Bank. Once Bass’ movements were known, the trap was set. Bass and gang were scouting the area before the robbery. After buying tobacco at a store, they were noticed by Deputy Sheriff A. W. Grimes. When Grimes approached the men and demanded they surrender their firearms. A gang member shot and killed Grimes. Bass fled but was shot by Texas Rangers George Herold and Sergeant Richard Ware. He was found in a field outside of town and died two days later.
From the Annals of the Sluggers – In 2012, outfielder Josh Hamilton of the Texas Rangers hit four home runs in a game against the Baltimore Orioles. Hamilton became the 16th major league baseball player to hit four home runs in one game. He also had 18 total bases which set an American League record.
Hamilton’s troubles with drug and alcohol addiction are well-known by baseball fans. After being drafted No. 1 overall out of high school in 1999 by the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, Hamilton’s addiction problems kept him out of the major leagues until he debuted with the Cincinnati Reds in 2007 at the age of 26. Hamilton’s on-field performance over the next seven seasons was impressive. He was named to four All-Star teams and was the AL MVP in 2010 when he led the league in batting average, slugging percentage and on-base plus slugging. He had a couple of relatively minor relapses with alcohol in later years, but it is injuries that have kept him off the field since the 2015 season. At age 36, it seems doubtful that JH will ever return to baseball.
From the Annals of the Crazed – In 1997, members of the so-called “Republic of Texas” surrendered to authorities ending an armed standoff where two people were held hostage. The ROT movement was started by Richard McLaren, a well-known trouble-maker in west Texas, who based the claims of the ROT on his flawed research regarding the Civil War. McLaren believed that because Texas voted to leave the Union in 1861, it still met qualifications under international law as a captive nation of the United States after being defeated in that war. This conveniently ignored the fact that the actual Republic of Texas ceased to exist when Texas became a state in 1845.
Before the stand-off in west Texas, the ROT had split into three factions. McLaren continued to lead one group, while David Johnson and Jesse Enloe, and Archie Lowe and Daniel Miller led two rump movements. In 1997, McLaren and his followers kidnapped Joe and Margaret Ann Rowe holding them hostage at the Davis Mountain Resort. McLaren demanded the release of ROT member in exchange for the release of the Rowes. The stand-off with local police and Texas Rangers in force generated considerable media interest with more than 100 reporters and crew encamped at a roadside park near Fort Davis. Ultimately, McLaren’s wife convinced him to surrender peacefully after a week. After surrendering, McLaren and four other Republic of Texas members were convicted and sent to prison. Two members of the group, Richard F. Keyes III and Mike Matson, eluded capture at first. However, Matson was killed in a shoot-out with Texas Rangers two days later. Keyes remained on the lam until September and was later was convicted of burglary with intent to commit aggravated assault and sentenced to 90 years in prison.
From the Annals of MLB – In 1991, in his 25th major league season and at age 44 Nolan Ryan pitched his record-setting 7th career no-hitter against the Toronto Blue Jays. Ryan was not particularly happy about pitching that evening on four days rest, but he agreed to pitch because it was Arlington Appreciation Night and he felt he owed something to the Texas fans. Before the game, Rangers’ pitching coach Tom House was less than optimistic.
“Nolan was bouncing his curveball, huffing and puffing on his fastball. He had no location, and his changeup was non-existent. I’m thinking, Whoops, this is not real good.”
Despite warning House and Rangers’ manager Bobby Valentine to have some warming up before he even took the mound, Ryan cruised through the game with only a couple of good defensive plays required. He struck out Roberto Alomar to close out the game.
Ryan retired after in 1993 with the all-time MLB of 5,714 strikeouts and the less desirable career record of 2,795 walks. His 324 career wins has him tied for 14th on the all-time list. But the record of seven career no-hitters may be unbreakable. Sandy Koufax is second on the list with four. Among active players, Max Scherzer, Cole Hamels, Jake Arrieta, Tim Lincecum, Justin Verlander and Homer Bailey each have two no-hitters.
From the Annals of Faux Law Enforcement – In 2010, Our Poor Idiot Governor Rick Perry named Chuck Norris (of Walker- Texas Moron fame) and his brother Aaron as honorary members of the Texas Rangers law enforcement agency. Criminals across the state trembled at the prospect and a couple of would be felons turned themselves in. If only Red could know what the actual Texas Ranger in the background was thinking.
From the Annals of Culling the Herd – In 1867, Lt. James Pike of the First United States Cavalry died when he smashed his malfunction rifle against a rock in frustration. Pike’s last act occurred during an Indian attack. Pike arrived in Texas in 1859 and joined John Henry Brown’s company of Texas Rangers. With the outbreak of the Civil War, Pike left Texas and went to Ohio, where he passed himself off as the nephew of Albert Pike. He joined the Fourth Ohio Cavalry in 1861 and saw considerable action as a scout, spy, and courier under Gen. William T. Sherman, who praised his “skill, courage and zeal” but warned him to “cool down.” After the war, he joined the First U.S. Cavalry, His memoir The Scout and Ranger: Being the Personal Adventures of Corporal Pike, of the Fourth Ohio Cavalry (1865) is a lively account of his career and has been praised by historians even though some of Pike’s claims are demonstrably false.
Most baseball fans remember the game in August of 1993 where Nolan Ryan nailed Robin Ventura square on with a pitch in the back. The Rangers and White Sox had been in something of a beanball war for several seasons which perhaps explains why Ventura charged the mound to attack the future Hall of Famer. Moreover, Ryan had a reputation as a pitcher who would throw at hitters. But no one had ever had the temerity to challenge him until Ventura charged the mound back in 1993. The standard narrative is that Ryan punished Venture by putting him in a headlock and land some punches to the noggin with Ryan coming away the big winner.
Some dedicated White Sox fans have reexamined the footage and determined that the Ventura actually got the better of the Ryan Express in the ensuing brawl. The video clearly shows Ryan’s initial move that put Ventura in a headlock. He holds him there with the help of Rangers catcher Ivan Rodriguez, but what happens next is never told. As the scrum grows, Ventura turns it around on Ryan, has him in an armlock and body slams him to the ground. The still from the video above shows that Ryan has completely lost control of the fight and is – to put it mildly – looking somewhat distressed. Ryan never landed a decent punch and by his own words was in trouble.
“All I remember is that I couldn’t breathe. I thought I was going to black out and die, when all of a sudden I see two big arms tossing bodies off of me. It was [Chicago’s] Bo Jackson. He had come to my rescue, and I’m awful glad he did, because I was about to pass out. I called him that night and thanked him.”
After the brawl, Ventura looked unscathed and its was Ryan who looked beat. Still most of the stories reminiscing about the incident give the standard narrative that the fight was all Ryan – when it clearly appears that Ventura gave as well as he got.
From the Annals of the Minor Outlaws – In 1878, Sam Bass was shot when his gang was scouting Round Rock for a planned robbery of the Williamson County Bank. He was surprised by Texas Rangers who had been tipped off about the robbery by gang member Jim Murphy. One story has it that the Rangers were holding Murphy’s father – who was ill and being denied treatment. Another claims that Murphy betrayed Bass for the reward money. When Bass came into town, he was approached by Williamson County Deputy Sheriff A.W. Grimes who asked the gang to surrender their guns. Grimes was shot and killed. As Bass attempted to escape he was shot by Texas Ranger George Herold and then by Ranger Sergeant Richard Ware. The next day Bass was found propped up against a tree and brought back to Round Rock. He died two days later on his 27th birthday. In Texas, Bass was a largely unsuccessful criminal never making a big score but caused a great deal of panic and earned notoriety. He had previously worked in a sawmill, as a cowboy, and as a freighter. Legend has it that after squandering money earned on a trail drive, he recruited a gang and began robbing stagecoaches and railroads.
From the Annals of Heat – In 1983, Nolan Ryan playing for the Houston Astros set a new major league record with after recording strike-out number 3509 against Brad Mills of the Montreal Expos. Ryan broke a 55-year-old major league baseball record with the K. Ryan would go on to strike out a total of 5714 batters in his remarkable career and record a MLB record seven no-hitters. Less noted is the fact that he also is the all-time leader in bases on balls – but that is the price of longevity. Ryan is the only player to have his number retired by three different ball clubs – the Angels, Astros and Rangers. Among the stranger records he holds is his claim to have been the only pitcher in MLB history to have struck out seven pairs of fathers and sons. He was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown in 1999. Sadly, he is depicted wearing a Texas Rangers cap on his hall of fame plaque.