As I was growing up, I was fortunate enough to have parents that took us to watch the Texas Rangers at the ballpark. We would pick games based on the pitching rotation because we always wanted the opportunity to watch Nolan Ryan. A couple of nights ago I was scrolling through things to watch, I flipped through the cable channels, nada, so I went to Netflix, and they have a documentary called “Facing Nolan”.
"(Nolan) Ryan's the only guy who puts fear in me. Not because he could get me out, but because he could kill me. You just hoped to mix in a walk so you could have a good night and go 0-for-3." - Reggie Jackson
Nolan Ryan played 27 years in Major League Baseball and is one of the best pitchers of all time. On historical radar’s his fastball was clocked at 101 mph, which would equal 108 mph on modern more accurate devices. Nolan has many, 51, MLB records most of which will never be touched. They include:
- Most no-hitters: 7
- Most one-hitters: 12
- Most two-hitters: 18
- Most three-hitters: 31
- Most career 300 strikeout seasons: 6
- Most career 200 strikeout seasons: 15
- Lowest Career batting average against: .203
- Most stolen bases allowed: 757
- Most grand slams allowed:
- Most wild pitches thrown: 277
- Oldest to ever throw a no-hitter: 44
- Oldest to ever lead the league in strikeouts: 43
- Most seasons ever played: 27
“Ultimately in life, you can have success on the field, but really what matters in the long term is a good set of values and that’s what Nolan Ryan exemplifies.” -George W. Bush
A 1999 article in Texas Monthly states “Ryan holds 51 records, more than anyone else in major league history, and he will be inducted into baseball’s Hall of Fame this summer, but he will always be remembered as much for the kind of person he was as for the kind of player he was” and credits Nolan with the values of “old-time Texas.”
Nolan Ryan is an inspirational leader. Kelly Gruber of the Toronto Blue Jays, the team victimized by Ryan’s seventh no-hitter at age 44, told the Boston Globe, “I hate to lose, but my respect and feelings for Nolan Ryan are so great that I’m actually happy to have been there. That may be the wrong feeling, I don’t know, but he’s more than a marvel. He’s the model for what we all should be. When I’m not facing him, I’m always rooting for him. It’s the same with a lot of players. [I]f we had to lose this game, I’m glad he got the no-hitter, and I’m glad I got to see it. He’s a great man.”
What made Nolan Ryan respected by so many?
- Humble – Nolan Ryan shared his success with his team. In his fifth no-hitter, teammate Terry Puhl snagged a well hit ball out of left center field. In recounting the story, he tells about the minutes after the game. “I’m sitting in front of my locker and Nolan shows up, and I’m looking at him and he says, TP, nice catch. He’s got all this stuff going on with him and he had the reserve in him to come over to my locker ten minutes after the ball game. I mean,..I was like, that’s pretty special.” Nolan Ryan is also rumored to have signed more autographs than any other active players at the time.
- Dedicated – Nolan had a rigorous work out and spent much of his time ensuring he was in the right shape for what he was doing. In his 40’s at the end of his career. He would ride a bicycle for two hours, he would then workout, then he would run, and then he would lift weights every day except for the day he was scheduled to pitch. His goal was to recover as fast as he could from the last start so he would be at his peak for the next start.
- He valued the people around him. Starting with his wife Ruth Ryan, who encouraged Nolan to continue his big-league career when he wanted to leave while playing for the Mets, Nolan knew the value of the people around him and relied on them. After the first half of the first inning in his seventh no hitter Nolan came to the dugout and told his teammates as they were getting ready to bat, I just need one tonight boys.
I will never pitch a fast ball as fast as Nolan Ryan. I will never be the baseball player Nolan Ryan was, but I can and should strive to be the kind of leader Nolan Ryan is. In my role of City Manager and in whatever role you are in, you can apply the same values as him and create the kind of Hall of Fame career Nolan Ryan created and be known as a good person and good leader as much as you are known for being good in your position.
Manager’s Challenge: Examine and challenge yourself to step up to the plate and be a hall of fame leader.
“I grew up with the thought that I wanted to treat people the way I’d like to be treated, and I think if you do that, it’s pretty hard to go wrong.” – Nolan Ryan
“My job is to give my team a chance to win.” – Nolan Ryan
“My ability to throw a baseball was a gift. It was a God-given gift. And I am truly appreciative of that gift.” – Nolan Ryan
“I am going to spend my time today just thanking the people that played a role in my career because I truly do believe that I was blessed by a lot of people that paths crossed mine as I went down the road in my career.” – Nolan Ryan