Texas stayed in contention until mid August when they hit hard times and multiple losing streaks to drop below .500. Going 9-24 in August set them 8 game off the pace in a division that was very winnable. The Rangers rebounded for an excellent September, but the closest they could rally back to was 5 game out. The Rangers featured a balanced offensive attack, where only Al Oliver (.323-12-76) hit over .300. Everyone in the lineup seemed to hover between .275 and .290. Six guys hit double figures in homers, but no one eclipsed the 20 homer plateau. Pat Putnam, Buddy Bell and Richie Zisk all tied for the team lead with 18. Bell, who was acquired from Cleveland in the offseason hit .299 and had 101 RBI's. Texas' mid season acquisitions paid dividends as well. Former Yankee Mickey Rivers hit an even .300 in just 58 games. Eric Soderholm, who came from the Chisox, hit .272 in 63 games. The team was also able to turn a near tragedy into a long term win. On May 28th starting first baseman Mike Jorgensen was beaned by Andy Hassler (BOS). He was basically out of the lineup until July and by that point Pat Putnam had assumed the role as regular first baseman. Putnam had a great season and would hold down the job for the next few years. Jorgensen had headaches, which caused a seizure. It turned out to be a small blood clot in his brain, which under medical care was removed and he was able to return to active play. What doctors couldn't fix was the lack of consistent starting pitching that the Rangers expected to get from a staff that featured guys like Fergie Jenkins (16-14, 4.07), Jon Matlack (5-4, 4.13) and Doyle Alexander (5-7, 4.45). Unheralded Steve Comer (17-12, 3.68) turned out to be the ace. All the starters needed to do was get to the 7th or 8th and hand it off to either Jim Kern (13-5, 1.57, 29 sv) or Sparky Lyle (5-8, 3.13, 13 sv). Kern, who was acquired from Cleveland (like half the team) finished 4th in the Cy Young voting and had his 3rd straight All-Star appearance. Desperate for some sort of spark the Rangers rusher #1 draft pick Jerry Don Gleaton (0-1, 6.52) into action with hopes of getting some sort of spark to save their season, which did not happen.
Editor’s Note: I can’t wait for that Rangers yearbook that I bought off ebay to arrive. This by far was the toughest set to complete. Tony and Jim R did a great job finding me photos to use, but when the day was done there wasn’t much available for the outliers. I suspect I will be doing a huge update for the Rangers in the next few days once the book arrives. Here’s the work I had to do to at least get this set usable. Dave Chalk and Ed Farmer are complete airbrush jobs that probably would be on a par with what Topps would have issued in a regular set for this era. Gray, McCall, Mahlberg and Allard are photos from minor league cards with Allard’s being by far the worst of the bunch. Montanez is a BHNH shot from the 1980 set, which they undoubtedly airbrushed out his Met uni. Gleaton’s photo came from the rookie panel card from 1980. It’s so darn grainy and barely usable. Based on his stats, he won’t spend much visible time on the hill anyway ! My favorite of the bunch is the Danny Darwin photo, which came from a Baseball Digest cover. I airbrushed out the headline and captions which yielded a very decent result. Worst of the bunch is the Gary Holle photo, which was a very poor B&W shot that I attempted to colorize.