The Dallas Morning News
Teixeira reunion tonight
2007 trade paved way to World Series for Teixeira, Rangers
Mark Teixeira, whose trade to the Braves paved the way for a decade of Rangers success, will return to Globe Life Park today for the first time as a nonopponent.
Mark Teixeira will gladly accept your ovation now. And, you know what, he’s probably due one.
By now, the 2007 trade of Teixeira that overhauled the Rangers’ organization and paved the way for nearly a decade of contending, has earned “Herschel Walker Trade” legendary status. That was all well and good for Rangers fans when Teixeira was playing for the New York Yankees, but, at that point, he was, well a Yankee.
On Friday, he returns to celebrate Rangers history. He will be back for the first time as a nonopponent and will pull down the countdown number in left field that tracks the number of games remaining at Globe Life Park. Just don’t refer to the stadium that way to Teixeira.
“Well, it will always be The Ballpark in Arlington to me,” he said. “And I absolutely loved that place. I have so many good memories there. I loved hitting there. I hit my first home run there. I hit a goahead grand slam in the eighth inning there against Toronto that was a really cool moment in 2004. And the entire 2004 season was for me, outside of winning the World Series, my favorite season playing professional baseball.”
The Rangers will be bringing back former players and club officials to help with the countdown throughout the season. Ivan Rodriguez kicked things off on opening day. It is a way of honoring the legacy of players over the last 26 seasons.
Teixeira is easily among the top 10 players to ever call the park home. Considering he made his debut in 2003 and that Elvis Andrus, one of the five players acquired for him and Ron Mahay at the trade deadline in 2007, is still a Rangers’ regular, Teixeira has had the longestlasting impact on the stadium.
In case you forgot, the Rangers also acquired reliever Neftali Feliz, starter Matt Harrison and catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia from Atlanta in the Teixeira deal. Andrus, Feliz and Harrison played big parts in the Rangers’ backtoback World Series appearances.
“I take some pride that the players I got traded for were such big contributors,” said Teixeira, now an analyst on ESPN. “I hope people look at that run and feel like I played really well here and helped get us some great players.”
But before that, Teixeira stood to be at the core of the Rangers’ next great rebuild with Michael Young and Hank Blalock around the infield.
They helped lead the team to a surprising 8973 season in 2004, a year after the Rangers traded Alex Rodriguez to New York and the club was expected to lose upward of 95 games.
In a lot of ways, that trio was not dissimilar from the Nomar Mazarajoey GalloRougned Odor group that is at the heart of the current Rangers’ rebuild. In the end, though, only Young saw the rebuild all the way through with the Rangers.
The Rangers committed to Young in the spring of 2007 with an $80 million contract extension. They had approached Teixeira about a longterm deal at the time, too, but, agent Scott Boras sought either a twoyear deal that would carry him through to free agency or a 10year deal that would set him up for the rest of his career. The Rangers went with the twoyear extension. And when the team bottomed out early in the season, general manager Jon Daniels sought to maximize the value of trading Teixeira, who was then 27, coming off three consecutive years of 30 homers and at least 100 RBIS and would be controllable for more than a season.
Teixeira, always savvy to the business of baseball, saw what was coming and it frustrated him. The frustration boiled over while he was coming back from a leg injury that cost him a month of the season. He made comments that essentially indicated he knew he wasn’t long for the Rangers organization.
“It was very difficult,” Teixeira said. “In a storybook world, I would have stayed with the Rangers, we’d have won a World Series in the first six years and I’d have sailed off into the sunset. But that’s not the real world. All I knew was the Rangers. My nickname was ‘Tex.’ It was perfect. I lived here all year long. I was all in, but when you realize you are just a commodity, it hurts a little bit.
“The only regret I have is that I should have just been more quiet on the way out,” he added. “I should have just let it happen. I saw Michael get the contract, and I wanted to be part of a winning team here. The writing was on the wall, though. The Rangers didn’t have the dollars to sign me to a $180 million contract. I should have just kept my mouth shut. But that’s the competitor in me. I fight a little. It was unfortunate that when I left it wasn’t the best situation, but you ask [Jon Daniels] and I’ll bet he doesn’t have any regrets about pulling the trigger on that deal. He shouldn’t.”
Teixeira did get his world championship in 2009 with New York in the first year of his $180 million deal. The next year, he pulled his hamstring in the AL Championship Series against the Rangers and watched from the bench as Feliz, one of the players acquired for him, struck out Rodriguez to send Texas to its first World Series. Teixeira, who once talked of forming a dog pile on the field in Arlington to celebrate a trip to the World Series, was there when it happened. He was just watching from the visiting bench.
“It was pretty appropriate,” Teixeira said with a laugh. “Me on the bench. [Rodriguez] getting struck out. The whole thing was pretty bittersweet for me because I looked across the field and saw some exteammates and wanted to share that.”
On Friday, there will be nothing bittersweet about his visit. He is bringing his youngest son, Will, the only one of his children who didn’t get to experience any of his father’s career in Texas.
“He wants to experience the Rangers like I did,” Teixeira said. “That place is so special to me. I’m coming there not as a Yankee, but as an exRanger. I’m hopeful fans will give me a warm reception.”