The Texas Rangers placed a resounding final brick in the wall of a stunning two-year makeover by hoisting the franchise’s first World Series trophy Wednesday night in Phoenix. It’ll probably take some time to wrap our minds around that, but doesn’t achieving something seemingly impossible always take longer and taste sweeter?

“This just changed the organization forever,” Rangers general manager Chris Young said. “Fans know it. Players know it. The organization knows. They are champions. And that can never be taken away from them.”

For many of their 52 seasons, the Rangers made losing an art form. Today they’re the champions of Major League Baseball after a 5–0 victory clinched the series over the Arizona Diamondbacks in game five.

Along the way, the Rangers vanquished the defending champion—and downstate rival—the Houston Astros in the American League Championship Series, which means the Lone Star State has now had a team in seven of the last fourteen Fall Classics, including the last two winners. Not bad for a football state.

Wednesday night, amid the bear hugs and laughter and clubhouse celebrations, the front office architects of the Rangers’ turnaround must have felt a resounding satisfaction: from Young, whose first season on the job began in April 2021, to team owner Ray Davis, who wrote the checks to acquire a bevy of free agent stars over the past two years, to team manager Bruce Bochy, who came out of retirement this season and helped his players perform with poise and resilience during the marathon MLB season.

Several longtime team employees wept openly after game five, and that vibe could be felt all the way back in North Texas, where televisions were tuned in and around 45,000 fans had packed Globe Life Field to share a moment they’ll never forget. Gone in a glorious three hours Wednesday were decades of disappointment.

The Rangers have finished the year with losing records in more than half of the franchise’s 52 MLB seasons. After the team moved to Arlington in 1972, it went 25 seasons before making the postseason and 15 more before winning a series. The club first made it to the World Series in 2010, then made it back the next year but lost in seven games. The Rangers were twice one strike away from the title and failed to finish the deal.

That quest finally ended Wednesday with a contest that delivered on every level for Rangers fans. The game was scoreless until the seventh inning, when Texas broke up Arizona starter Zac Gallen’s no-hitter. Appropriately, it was Rangers shortstop Corey Seager, the World Series Most Valuable Player, who swatted the first Texas hit and started the rally that would get his team a 1–0 lead. The score remained 1–0 until Texas got some breathing room by scoring four runs in the top of the ninth.

Twenty-three months ago, it was Seager agreeing to a $325 million contract that began the journey to game five. He homered in three of the five World Series games, and his six postseason homers have averaged 110 miles per hour in exit velocity and 426 feet in distance. 

“It’s insane,” Rangers outfielder Travis Jankowski said. “He’s just the best player on the planet.”

Seager began the seventh-inning rally with something different: an opposite-field single squibbed into left field. He would score what amounted to the game-winning run and became the fourth player to win multiple World Series MVP Awards (his first was in 2020), joining Hall of Famers Sandy Koufax, Bob Gibson, and Reggie Jackson.

“Yeah, I mean, I don’t think you can ever fathom that,” Seager said. “It’s a pretty special group to be part of. It truly is incredible, but it’s not just me, man. What this team did and how we competed and all the guys in there rallying, we don’t really have one leader.”

Gallen’s six shutout innings on Wednesday were matched zero for zero by Texas starter Nathan Eovaldi, one of this generation’s best postseason pitchers. Eovaldi was one of five pitchers Young signed after last season; the right-hander started six playoff games this fall, and the Rangers won all of them. “He’s a true champion, man,” pitching coach Mike Maddux said. “His will to win rubbed off on a lot of guys.” 

The Rangers won, too, because of reliever Josh Sborz, who got the final seven outs in the biggest game of his career. He’d been let go by the Dodgers in 2021 and sent back to the minor leagues six times by the Rangers in 2022. He had a 5.50 ERA in 44 regular-season appearances this year, but he kept at it and fashioned a 0.75 ERA in ten postseason appearances.

“It’s amazing,” he said. “It’s been a long road to get here. Just thankful for the Rangers staying committed to me and giving me this opportunity. It’s been a tough three years for me, but to be able to finish it and get their first one, it’s just an honor. . . . This game is very unforgiving, but if you stay committed and love it, it will always reward you.”

Two years ago, the Rangers lost 102 times, which prompted team owner Ray Davis to give his baseball staff the green light to spend money. That they did, $800 million over two offseasons, beginning with the signings of Seager and second baseman Marcus Semien in December 2021. Davis would keep the pocketbook open, too, after promoting Young to head the team’s baseball operations.

It was Young who convinced Bochy, a 68-year-old who managed the San Francisco Giants to a trio of championships in the 2010s, to leave retirement and lead the Rangers. On Wednesday, he became just the sixth manager in history to win the World Series four times.

“He’s two moves ahead of everybody in the entire baseball world,” Diamondbacks manager Torey Lovullo said. “I guarantee you, if it’s the third inning, he’s thinking about the sixth or seventh.”

“He’s got . . . a gut feel that is unmatched,” Lovullo continued, “and just an overall instinct for what’s happening around him every single pitch.”

The Rangers persevered even after ace pitcher Jacob deGrom was injured after six starts this season, after trade-deadline pickup Max Scherzer broke down, and after a late-season swoon in which the team lost sixteen of twenty games.

“Everybody across this roster got tested, and everybody responded and answered,” Scherzer said. “You found so many different ways to win ball games. So many different guys stepped up. That’s what makes it special, is that you’re at this moment where you get to celebrate together.”

One thing the national narrative will miss about the Rangers franchise is how it is woven into the fabric of North Texas almost as much as the Yankees in New York or Braves in Atlanta. Rangers fans remained deeply loyal despite going years without much to cheer for. They’d come to see championships as things that happened to other franchises—to Boston and New York, for sure, but even to Houston, for heaven’s sake.

All that changed on Wednesday. The Rangers are just the third team to go from a losing a hundred or more games in a season to winning a World Series within two years’ time. Those other two were the 1914 Boston Braves and the 1969 New York Mets.

“Everybody in the room wanted it,” Semien said. “We all play for this. We don’t play for any other accolades or anything else. We play for this. We learned that if you get in the playoffs, get hot, get the pitchers going, anybody can win this thing.”

“Everything I’ve ever worked for was for this moment,” he added.

Those words will stick with Rangers fans. He was speaking for all of them.