When Charlie Hough was smoking cigarettes in pregame and still pitching well into his 40s with the Texas Rangers, he was trying to carry on the legacy of the knuckleball along with the Niekro brothers, and he was being caught by Ned Yost.
Now Yost, the manager of the Kansas City Royals will send out a lineup in Game 4 of the ALCS on Tuesday with the intention of tripping up the game's best knuckleballer of the past five years in R.A. Dickey.
Dickey was a top prospect in college and came up in the Texas Rangers system despite famously having his big signing bonus yanked away when physicals revealed he was missing a ligament in his pitching elbow. Sure enough, he couldn't pitch in the conventional way and failed to make it as a hard-throwing righty with the Rangers.
That's when he sought out Hough and other knucklers and began working on the craft that allowed him to win the NL Cy Young with the Mets a couple of years ago.
On Tuesday, he'll be facing off with another former Rangers pitching prospect in Chris Young, a Highland Park native who came up and made his big-league debut in the mid-2000s before being traded to San Diego and going in and out of the bigs with several teams while also batting injury from time to time.
Now, he's one of the best comeback stories in baseball after he put together a solid campaign with the Royals.
So when you're watching Game 4 of the ALCS on Tuesday afternoon, do so knowing you're watching a lot of guys who were influenced in one way or another by the Rangers organization, and we haven't even gotten to Justin Smoak or Edinson Volquez or Edwin Encarnacion yet.