The Texas Rangers will square off against the San Francisco Giants this week in one of the unlikeliest World Series pairings in baseball history.
Texas, which had never won a single playoff series prior to this year, knocked off the two teams with the best records in the American League—the Rays and the Yankees—to reach the World Series for the first time in their 50th season.
The Rangers weren’t always the Rangers. They started out as the expansion Washington Senators in 1961, and lost 100 games in each of their first four season. In 1972 they moved to Arlington, Texas, became the Texas Rangers, and promptly lost 100 games in each of their first two years. The original Washington Senators moved to Minnesota and became the Twins in 1961.
The Giants were heavy underdogs against the Phillies, who were attempting to become the first National League team since the St. Louis Cardinals (1942-44) to win three straight pennants.
The Giants, who have called San Francisco home since 1958, won their last World Series in 1954, when they were the New York Giants playing in the old Polo Grounds. Only the Cubs (102 years and counting) and Indians (62 years and counting) have gone longer without a World Series title than the Giants, who lost the Series in 1962, 1989 and 2002.
There aren’t many people who picked a Rangers-Giants World Series in April…and those who claim they did are probably lying. Either Texas or San Francisco will become one of the more surprising World Champions in baseball history.
Here are the SportsLifer’s 10 most unlikely World Champions of all time (in chronological order). With apologies to the 1944 St. Louis Browns, 1959 Chicago Go-Go Sox, the 1967 “Impossible Dream” Red Sox, and more recently the 2007 Rockies and 2008 Rays, who won pennants but failed to grab the ring.
1906—The Hitless Wonders, the Chicago White Sox, defeated a Cubs team that won 116 games, still the National League record for a single season.
1914—The Boston Braves, in last place on the Fourth of July, stormed to the NL pennant and then swept Connie Mack’s Philadelphia A’s in the World Series.
1924—The Washington Senators (first in war, first in peace, last in the American League) won their first and only World Series, edging the Giants in a thrilling, seven-game Series.
1948—The Cleveland Indians beat the Red Sox in a one-game playoff, then held off the Boston Braves in six games.
1954—The New York Giants swept the Cleveland Indians, who won an AL record 111 games in the regular season, to stop the Yankees' run of five straight championships.
1960—The Pittsburgh Pirates, on the strength of Bill Mazeroski’s ninth-inning, walk-off home run, stunned the New York Yankees in seven games.
1969—Perhaps the unlikeliest World Series winner of all, the Miracle New York Mets rose from ninth place the previous year to stun the Baltimore Orioles.
1991—After finishing last in their respective divisions in 1990, the Twins and Braves rebounded and made the World Series. Minnesota beat Atlanta in a hard-fought, seven-game series.
2004—The Red Sox ended 86 years of futility, coming back from a 3-0 deficit to beat the Yankees in the ALCS, and then brushing aside the Cardinals in the World Series.