Arlington Stadium bears a distinction in the major leagues of being one of only five stadiums originally built for minor league squads, then upgraded and expanded for major league use. Kansas City’s Municipal Stadium was one of those five, as was Baltimore’s Memorial Stadium, Minnesota’s Metropolitan Stadium and Seattle’s Sick’s Park.
Arlington was built in 1965 as Turnpike Stadium and was host to the Double-A Fort Worth Cats of the Texas League who moved there and upgraded to the Triple-A Dallas-Fort Worth Spurs. They played there through the 1970 season when the stadium was expanded from its original configuration of 10,000 seats to 25,000 seats. The Spurs set a number of attendance records during their tenure there, but the real purpose for the expansion was to attract a major league team to the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex.
In 1972, after ten disappointing seasons in Washington D.C., the struggling Washington Senators moved to Arlington to become the Texas Rangers. They played at Arlington Stadium through the 1993 season. For the 1994 season, the Rangers moved into The Ballpark in Arlington, now Globe Life Park.
On Aug. 22, 1989, in front of a capacity crowd in Arlington Stadium, Hall of Fame pitcher Nolan Ryan struck out Rickey Henderson of the Oakland Athletics to earn his 5,000th career strikeout, the first pitcher in major league history to achieve that number. Almost four years later to the day, Ryan tagged the White Sox’ Robin Ventura with a pitch and Ventura, in probably not the best decision of his career, decided he’d charge the mound. The ensuing result was a brawl for the ages with Ryan grabbing Ventura in a headlock and punching him on top of his head six times. Ventura, in a controversial call, was ejected but Ryan maintained his position on the mound for the remainder of the game.
The last baseball game was played in Arlington Stadium on Oct. 3, 1993, resulting in a 4-1 win by the visiting Kansas City Royals, in front of 41,039 fans. That game was also the final game for Royals Hall of Fame third baseman George Brett. The stadium was demolished in 1994, but not before the foul poles and home plate were moved to the new ballpark, along with some of the green bleachers.