ARLINGTON -- Silver Boot III is alive and well in Arlington, having spent a comfortable year on display at the Rangers retail store in downtown Dallas. That would seem to be a better home than the media workroom at Minute Maid Park. That's where Silver Boot I resides. Silver Boot II? That met a tragic fate after the Rangers claimed it in 2004.
The Rangers would like to keep Silver Boot III here in Arlington and avoid such tragedy once again. It is emblematic of a rivalry that may not be big nationwide, but is still of wide interest in Texas, with the hope of getting better every year. "I think it's been a good series, and I think the interest will be greater as the two teams become contenders," said Rangers president Nolan Ryan, who has a deep attachment to both franchises. The origin of Silver Boot goes back to 1992, before Major League Baseball initiated Interleague Play. That's when the two Texas teams started an end-of-Spring Training rivalry with a trophy awarded to the winner. This one wasn't quite as expensive as the others. It was just a leather boot painted silver, but the Rangers claimed it with a 2-0 victory in 1992. Afterward, the boot went on display behind Bobby Valentine's desk at the Rangers manager's office at Arlington Stadium. "Everybody said I would get the boot this year," Valentine joked, referring to his job status rather than a trophy. "Well, here it is." Silver Boot I wasn't exactly coveted. According to legend, it spent one year in the back of a Rangers club employee's car. Soon it fell out of sight, only to be found in the dusty archives of the Astros public relations department at Minute Maid Park. There it remains to this day, although the Astros' claim to Silver Boot I is dubious at best. According to records supplied by the Astros public relations department, the Rangers won the last two exhibition games played between the two teams, a 6-5 victory in Arlington in 1999, and a 9-3 victory in Houston in 2000, thus earning the boot. That was the end of Silver Boot I. In 2001, the Rangers-Astros series took on new meaning when they played for the first time in regular-season history. The two teams bought a new trophy: a cut glass boot with silver highlights atop a crystal ball. Silver Boot II's first home was Arlington. The two teams split the six-game series and the Rangers won on run differential. Manager Jerry Narron accepted Silver Boot II on the field after the game. It's the only time there has been an on-field presentation of the Boot. The Astros claimed the Boot the next two years, and it resided safely in Houston. Then tragedy struck. The Rangers won in 2004, again on run differential, and the Astros shipped the trophy to Arlington. It arrived in the mail shattered, in pieces. Again the two teams bought a new trophy, this one a massive size-15 cowboy boot cast in silver, complete with a custom hand-made spur. It will be at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington, in owner Tom Hicks' bunker suite behind the home dugout. The Rangers are hoping that it will eventually return to the Dallas store for another year, rather than taking the risky trip back to Houston. They prefer Silver Boot III and will let the Astros keep Silver Boot I.
T.R. Sullivan is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.