A HERO TO US ALL

 

*Nolan Ryan Quotes* Letters about Nolan Ryan

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Nolan Ryan Quotes:


"Nolan Ryan is one of the greatest pitchers of all time and an excellent role model in sports. He's living proof that dreams do come true- for anyone with the courage and dedication to work hard to achieve their dream." -George W. Bush, Texas Governor

"I had the pleasure of batting against some of the greatest pitchers in the game, but I consider Nolan Ryan one of the tops.  He was a winner on
and off the field."  -Hank Aaron, Home Run King, Hall of Famer

"It's easy for people to always talk about Nolan Ryan-the pitcher.  But for me, I'm probably more impressed by Nolan Ryan-the person.  He's been a good friend for a number of years.  His dedication, work ethic, and personality, are an inspiration to young persons and adults.  Just about the time you think, "What else can he accomplish?", he comes up with another milestone.  Some of my fondest baseball memories involve Nolan from his days with the Angels.  He is one of those rare individuals who will be admired for generations to come."   -Gene Autry, California Angels owner

"He's the best friend a man could have..."   -Jimmy Reese, Angels coach


"How many pitchers have thrown that hard for that long? The answer is 'none'."  -Les Moss, Houston Astros Pitching Coach

"When I came up, we had Koosman and, soon after that Gentry. Those were great young arms. But you looked at Nolan, and you saw there was something extra no one else had." -Tom Seaver, New York Mets

"...But I told her, 'Nolan Ryan doesn't belong to me or to you. He doesn't belong to Alvin. Or to Texas. Or to the United States. He belongs to the World."  -Red Murff, Major League Baseball Scout

"I saw him throw 2 no-hitters when I was a kid.  Nearly 20 years later, he's getting me out."  -Rob Deer, Detroit Tigers

"A good night tonight is 0 for 4 and don't get hit in the head." -Oscar Gamble, Cleveland Indians.                 

"I couldn't hit those pitches no matter what.  Those were the greatest pitches I ever heard."   -Mickey Stanley, Detroit Tigers

When you talk velocity, Nolan threw the hardest. Nolan threw it down the
strike zone harder than any human being I ever saw. In 1973 against the Red Sox, Nolan threw a pitch a little up and over my left shoulder. I
reached up for it and Nolan's pitch tore a hole in the webbing of my
glove and hit the backstop at Fenway Park.   - Jeff Torborg, California Angels

"John Wayne with a baseball cap."  -New York Times

"He's more than a marvel.  He's the model for what we all should be.  -Kelly Gruber, Toronto Blue Jays

Letters about Nolan Ryan: 

                           NOTE:  All are reprinted with the express written authority of the author.


   "Aren't we all Nolan Ryan fans? I am for sure.  I'm no psychic, but sometimes decisions that I make allows me to look like one.  For instance, I randomly picked days to watch Nolan pitch. I saw both of his pure Texas No-nos. I also did not go to Arlington to see his #300 win (attempt). I flew to Milwaukee, my Major League park, to see #300."   
-Red Murff, Brenham, Texas (MLB Scout that discovered Nolan Ryan)

   "I HAVE A NEPHEW WHO WAS JUST BORN FRIDAY-----his name is RYAN NOLAN !!!  -Kathleen Chaves, West Tisbury, Massachusetts

   "We lived in Alvin, Texas for 10 years. When we about first got there, 1980, we were in a Burger King in Pearland, the next town over from Alvin. My wife was looking around and said, "Look, there's Nolan Ryan". I thought she was joking, but asked her where. She said up there ordering. I looked and said I didn't see him (I was looking for someone in a suit). She said, "There, ordering now". I saw a guy in a pair of jeans and a red plaid shirt
with a cowboy hat on, looked closer, and sure enough, it was Nolan Ryan. Nobody gave it any big deal that he was there getting a burger. His wife and family were seated waiting for him, and nobody was badgering them for autographs and stuff. That was neat.
    I mentioned that my wife used to help out at the concession stand for the Alvin High School Baseball team. Well, they kept the new game balls in the back storage room of the stand, and one game that Nolan was at, she gave a new ball to each one of my three boys and said when Mr. Ryan wasn't busy, to ask if he wouldn't mind signing them. Like I said about Burger King, the people were used to seeing him around Alvin, and didn't crowd around him and such. So my boys were able to go right over to him and ask. He said sure.
While they were waiting, a lady also wanted an autograph and mustn't have seen my youngest boy waiting and inadvertently stepped in front of him. After Nolan signed my first two boy's baseballs, he said, very politely, "Ma'am, I believe the little fella in back of you was next". She apologized, he signed his baseball, and that was that. No big deal. Afterwards, my wife had the distinct pleasure of making a hamburger for Nolan Ryan (and didn't charge him for it!!).
    We saw him every so often after that, but those stories stick out in my mind
the most because of what a class act he was and is to this day. Oh, yeah, my wife also got Reid Ryan's autograph . . . just in case!
Regards,
Mike Miller, North Brunswick, New Jersey



   "It's hard to believe that the most dominant pitcher of our time could ever be forgotten. However, that's the problem with the hobby of today: People only remember what they currently see, and this is a reflection on what they purchase. Purists like us still see great value in the players of yesterday, and they will remain close to our hearts.
    My experiences with the Ryan Express have all been quite memorable. I first met him back in the mid 70's (around 1974) when he and (player X) had the two fastest fastballs in the modern era of baseball-both in the high 90's on a consistent basis. They stayed at the Boston Sheraton Hotel about a 10-minute walk from Fenway. Nolan Ryan came out of the elevator first and was very pleasant, signed my autograph book, and then thanked me for asking. (Player X), a big playboy in those days, wore a big sombrero hat and had two beautiful blonde women draped in each arm. He signed a rather rushed signature, but nevertheless, still signed. Back then (Player X) was such a big deal, that I was happy to get him as I was Nolan! (Player X), although having had a long, solid career with over 200 wins, could not hold a candle to the Ryan Express. How times change... During that time frame, I would witness Nolan pitching against the Red Sox in Fenway at a time when the Ted Sox honored Ted Williams. I ended up getting autographs of Nolan and my first Ted Williams autograph in the same day!
    Nolan Ryan was soon off to the National League to the Astros, and I would not see him again until his return to the American League in 1989 with the Texas Rangers.  At that time, collecting became more sophisticated, and instead of getting an autograph book signed, I would get balls, bats, jerseys, magazines and other assorted memorabilia items that were better for display purposes.    
    His first return trip back to Boston was in 1989, again at the Boston Sheraton. He came out of the same elevator that he did 15 years ago during our last encounter. Nolan came right over to me and my wife, talked to us for several minutes, signed as many items as we had in our hands, and stated that he really enjoyed meeting us. There were only a handful of collectors; therefore, everyone got everything they wanted autographed.  However, soon after, Nolan would reach 5,000 strikeouts and pitch his 7th no-hitter; and thereafter everyone and their mother was looking for Nolan Ryan autographs.
    By 1991, not only had the crowds increased tenfold, but Nolan Ryan had become the most sought-after athlete in the world, bigger than Michael Jordan, Wayne Gretsky, and Joe Montana. His demand had gotten out of control. Therefore, the opportunity for autographs that were a piece of cake only two years prior to that, had become next to impossible. Nolan no longer came off the elevator that made access to him so easy, as he was forced to go down back staircases and out side doors of the hotel, and to sneak into taxi cabs in back of the building.
    This lead to my only tough encounter with Nolan Ryan. It came about during his only Fenway pitching match-up with Rocket Roger Clemens. I had acquired an extra ticket for that match-up, which went unused. I had the foresight to have Roger sign the ticket, and obviously needed Nolan to sign it as well. Before the next game during the weekend series, I caught a glimpse of Nolan dashing out a side door and bolting towards an awaiting cab. I ran as fast as I could through the gift shop area, and out that same door towards the cab. Nolan couldn't quite get the cab door closed, because my shoe was caught in it. He was gracious enough to sign the ticket, and off he went... That was the only autograph he signed, and there were several disappointed fans who had eagerly awaited Ryan's appearance since 7:30 that morning. Nolan was bigger than big, as he had gone in two short years from being a rather easy autograph to acquire throughout his entire career, to being as hard to get as the President of the United States.
    Hopefully, this story will give fans an idea of the times and how they changed during the illustrious career of the great Nolan Ryan, who went virtually unnoticed until the last few years of a great 27-year career in Major League Baseball."
-Rick Alhart, Boston, Massachusetts



    "As a sports reporter, I have had the opportunity to interview athletes in moments of personal and team triumph. I was at Lambeau Field when Joe Montana completed 22 passes in a row to set a National Football League record. I was in the press box when the Minnesota Twins won a World Series, when Robin Yount stroked his 3,000th career hit, and when college teams fought in the Rose Bowl and in the National Collegiate Athletic Association basketball tournament.
    But by far the most enjoyable reporting experience I have had in this kind of situation was interviewing Nolan Ryan after he had won his 300th career game, in July 1990 at Milwaukee County Stadium.
    As a baseball writer in the early 90's, I had the honor of chatting with Ryan on several occasions. But no interview showed the true Ryan more than after he had reached that milestone while pitching with the Texas Rangers. Following the game, with more than 100 reporters and camera men surrounding him, Ryan was truly the guy that you see on the Advil television commercials and the Kelloggs Corn Flakes boxes --humble, contrite, gracious. He was down to earth, even in this moment of amazing personal triumph. He was the real deal.
    On an evening when he was the top sports story on every news broadcast and newspaper in the country, Ryan took the time during his post-game press conference to thank all the people who had made an impact on his life as a big-league ball player. He thanked his teammates (old and new), his coaches (major league, minor league, high school) and his family. He also took the time to answer nearly everyone's question, including my own. My favorite quote on that night? Ryan was asked what he said to reliever Brad Arnsberg after he was summoned to try to cement the veteran's 300th
victory. "I just told him to enjoy himself out there," said Ryan.
    On that night, Ryan did not gloat. He didn't bust open the champagne in the locker room. He finished the interviews and then talked with pitching coach Tom House about the day-after workouts that he was planning to do. He then met up with family members outside the visitors' clubhouse and embarked on a night of subdued celebration.
    I, on the other hand, stayed up late writing stories about the game that I had witnessed and about the man who had impressed me in so many ways on that night."
-Paul Arnold, Milwaukee, Wisconsin


   "I was with the Braves in 84 and 85 so I got to see Nolan Ryan a good bit. The visitor's clubhouse in Atlanta didn't have a weight room, so he would always come over and use ours. He was always a complete gentleman and had no problems with autographs. As for the batboys, there were four of us. One worked in the clubhouse, one on the right field foul line, and one worked the balls and the other the bats. We rotated each game.
   There was always a battle to work the balls and bats when Ryan pitched and I was lucky enough to see him throw many times from where I sat working the bats. Needless to say, we moved our chairs back a few inches when he threw. Between him, Lee Smith and Mario Soto, they were the premier power pitchers of the 80's in my opinion (Ryan was in the 60s, 70s and 90s as well !!!). He was also a decent hitter. Claudell Washington, who played for Atlanta when I was there, holds the record for being struck out the most by Ryan (I think it was about 95 times). Claudell's at bat against Ryan usually lasted about 45 seconds."  Cheers,                          
-Tom Burns, London, England


   "I have been collecting Nolan Ryan cards for about 9 years. He is one of the greatest pitchers ever. There will never be another one like him. Watching him pitch in a game was such a thrill. It was a sad day when he finally did retire. If every player followed him as a role model the game of baseball would be so much better. A very big Ryan fan."
-Sandra Bercegay, Folsom, Louisiana

   "I was playing against Nolan Ryan on a hot day in Cleveland back in 1975 and Nolan was the pitcher.  I never had much luck against Nolan and I was batting 4th and playing 1st base.  I was have a good year and I was waiting for a chance to bat against him.  This is the only pitcher in the 70's that I played against, that every time he took the mound he could either shut you our or throw a no-hitter.
   I knew it would be a close game and my 1st time up I was sitting dead red (fastball).  I worked the count to 3 and 2 and the bases were loaded with one out due to an error and walks.  He threw a fastball and broke my bat in half and I hit into a double play.  After that 1st at bat I struck out one more time and left 3 more runners on base.
   Not a good day.Nolan won the game and the rest of my career I think I got one hit off him.  He was the toughest and best pitcher I ever faced.  My son is in the minor leagues with Texas and I believe there will never ever be a greater fastball pitcher in the major leagues like Nolan Ryan."
-
John Ellis, former MLB catcher, Connecticut

   "I've followed baseball for years. I began as a Pirates fan and knew many of the players. One player I knew early on in his career was Art Howe. When Artie was traded to Houston (I think he got there through the minors), I became an Astros' fan. Knowing Art opened the door for me to get to know many other players. One of the first Astros I became acquainted with was Jimmy Winn. I followed the Astros closely in the 80's. I was acquainted with Joe Niekro, Joe Sambito, Bob Knepper, and Denny Walling, to name a few. I used to bake Art and Denny chocolate chip and oatmeal-raisin cookies. At the time, I didn't know Nolan. He was so quiet and seemed to prefer to be alone. I hesitated to bother him.
   Well, one day, after I had sent cookies in to Denny, Nolan stopped on his way to the bus and said, "Thanks for the cookies -I liked the oatmeal-raisin the best." I'll never forget those first words he spoke to me. Needless to say, Nolan always got the oatmeal-raisin after that and Denny got the chocolate chip, which he preferred. Ever since that day, Nolan always stopped to talk with me. He always made me feel important. He made me feel like he was glad to see me. Nolan always had time for everyone. After Nolan joined Texas, I continued to follow him. I'd often go to Baltimore or Cleveland to see him. He always took time to speak with me - never making me feel like I was holding him back.
   When Nolan started to break records, many people wanted to speak with him or get his autograph and it was almost impossible for me to get near him. That's when he told the traveling secretary to arrange a meeting place for us. The last year of his career, I went to Cleveland to see him. First I had to call the traveling secretary who told Nolan who arranged to meet me on the second floor. We talked for a long time and I told Nolan I would travel to Cooperstown for his induction into the Hall of Fame. He said he'd get me two tickets . I'll have to write or call the traveling secretary of the Rangers - I don't know if it is the same one I knew. Through the years, Nolan would pose for pictures for me and I'd get him to sign them whenever I'd see him. Nolan Ryan is the greatest person I've ever met. He's so great and , yet, so humble. I have all of my Nolan Ryan souvenirs on a wall in my home."
-
Jody Dickinson, Pittsburgh, PA

   "Hi. I am 15 years old and I try to collect all the Nolan Ryan memorabilia & collectibles. I met Nolan Ryan at Dairy Queen during the commercial shoot at the Dairy Queen on 281 and Borgfield. I also have three autographs and only 100+ cards and hope to be getting more. I am willing to trade all my other baseball cards to get as many Nolan Ryan cards as possible. I am also willing to trade a 700 card count of mint condition 1991 Upper Deck baseball cards. Some of my cards include Ken Griffey Jr., Randy Johnson, Dion Sanders, etc.,. My main objective is to gain many, many more(a lot more) Nolan Ryan's."  Big N.R. Fan,
-Ian Mitchell

   "Nolan Ryan was the best pitcher I caught in the 10 years   I spent in the Major Leagues. Nolan and I became good friends, so good he named a bull after me. His strength did not come from his arm, but his legs. He stayed in great shape and will eventually become a Hall-of-Famer."
Tom Egan, Former Major League catcher  (Caught Nolan Ryan's 3rd no-hitter)                    

When I was pregnant, my doctor told without question, it was a girl. My 10-year old son was the only person that did not believe him and he would come up to my stomach and talk to the baby and call him Nolan Ryan. At that time, Nolan Ryan was playing for the Angels, and my son Steven used to refer to the baby as our angel. He always liked Nolan and that was his favorite player. When the baby was born February 9, 1977, and it was a boy, my husband and I decided that for 9 months the baby had been Nolan Ryan, so we named him Nolan Ryan Vincent. He was drafted out of high school by the Cardinals and turned down the draft to go to college. To make the story even more interesting, he fractured a vertebrate in his spine when he was 15 and was told he would never be able to play organized sports again. He defied those odds and that year was All Conference-Second team in baseball. He played both baseball and basketball with a back brace on, after staying out of all sports for about 4 months. Later, he came back very slowly following the doctors orders. He was All-American first team last year and #2 in the nation in hitting. I was surprised that he wasn't drafted again and so was he, he is now playing at Southwest Baptist University at Bolivar, Missouri and is such a neat kid. He has not caused me a bit of trouble in his whole life. He is a Christian and an asset to any school. Needless to say, his room is like a Nolan Ryan shrine. We buy everything we can afford and give it to him. I think Nolan Ryan is a good hero for my Nolan Ryan. You should see all of the kids in Wal-Mart when I page Nolan Ryan to come to the front, “Mom is ready to leave.” It is pretty neat. I tell some of my students to really think hard before you name your child after someone famous. You never know what they are going to do, and sometimes a good name turns out to be a bad name. I have never regretted naming my son “Nolan Ryan”. -Sandy Vincent, Missouri

I remember the fight like it was yesterday. It was the only time I got to see Nolan pitch and boy was it memorable. I was in the third or fouth row behind home plate on the third base side (as a guest of Nolan's ranch manager). Ruth sat right in front of me. The Ryan boys were behind me and to my right. To my left were the Ryan's neighbors in Alvin, who were the babysitters for the Ryan children. To my right was Billy Rash, my teaching partner, who had grown up rodeoing with Nolan's ranch manager. I had met Nolan at a cattle auction in Houston, but had never been able to watch him pitch. I had been after Billy to get us tickets to see Nolan for two years, and, conveniently, it happened while we were at DFW Airport for the Texas Agriculture Teachers Conference. I was scheduled to get the "Distinguished Service" award at a banquet that night, but when we got word at lunch that they had seats for us at the ballgame, my plans changed. I told Billy that I could teach another 25-30 years and get another award, but this would be my one and only chance to see Nolan pitch, and I wasn't going to miss it. I had just elbowed Billy and told him that we would be telling our grandkids about seeing Nolan Ryan pitch, when Ventura came to bat. We spent several minutes trying to get Nolan's ranch hands back in their seats, as they were looking for a way to get around the net and help him out. When things settled down, I asked Ruth what she thought about it, and all she could do was shake her head and say, "I can't believe it." When I asked one of the boys (I think it was Reid), he said, "I thought I was about ready to take him on, but I can see that I'm not ready yet." My first thoughts were that Robin Ventura had just guaranteed himself not ever being able to play for the Rangers or the Astros and being an Oklahoma native, that might be bad. My regrets are that I didn't get any memorabilia from that night. We never had tickets, since someone met us at a gate and walked us down to the seats...thus no ticket stub. Gotta go. I'm hauling a load of kids to an Astros game today and they are starting to show up at the school. Ronald Barlow, Principal, Pineland, Texas