Pitcher Nolan Ryan is now 74 years old. His family members, especially sons Reese and Reid, collaborated on this documentary at SXSW directed by Bradley Jackson that showcases the achievements of the pitcher of whom Rod Carew said, “There will never be another like Nolan Ryan.” Pete Rose added, “Nolan was a lion.”
Drafted at age 18 right out of high school, the pitcher with the 100 mph-plus pitch is lauded as “the most dominating pitcher that the game has ever seen.” As Cal Ripken, Jr., said, “There will never be anything like him.”
The man who pitched for 27 years, notching 320 victories, 5,714 strikeouts and 7 no-hitters was also a devoted family man. He married his high school sweetheart, and the pair had three children, two boys and a girl. The former President of the United States, George W. Bush, is interviewed about Nolan and said, “What really matters in the long run is a good set of values.”
During his induction into the baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown in 1999, Nolan acknowledged wife Ruth’s contribution to his amazing success and the grandchildren attest that Ruth, who was also a high school athlete in Alvin, Texas, was the 1965 state doubles tennis champion and is credited for keeping Nolan pitching at a time when he was waivering in his resolve to continue. When son Reid was hit by a car in Villa Park California and lost one kidney and his spleen, it was Ruth who kept the family going and focused on their sick son while Nolan focused on his amazing career.
Sandy Koufax was one of Nolan’s early idols, but Nolan was able to break all of Koufax’s pitching records within 10 years. The youngest of six children of Depression era parents, Nolan stood 6’ 1” and weighed 142 pounds, but he could throw a baseball over 100 miles an hour and, as he said, “I guess I was born to be a pitcher.” At his induction into baseball’s Hall of Fame, Ryan said, “I took a lot of pride that I was still able to compete at that level at that age” His 27-year record-breaking career included play in four decades.
Ryan pitched for the New York Mets, California Angels, Houston Astros, and Texas Rangers. After his retirement in 1993, Ryan served as chief executive officer (CEO) of the Texas Rangers and an executive advisor to the Houston Astros.
When he left California to play ball in Texas, only 35 miles from his hometown of Alva, after disputes with owner John McMullin in 1988, fans were incensed. As it tells us in the documentary, “In Houston they still cuss him out.” However the manager of the Texas team he joined, said, “It was like Elvis had come aboard.”
Nolan Ryan was born in 1947. He was shown signing baseballs at a Round Rock event. Considerably heavier than in his playing days, he is surrounded by a loving family who are obviously very proud of their famous father. The documentary is a baseball lover’s Must See. It is well done by Director Bradley Jackson with the cooperation of family members as producers; Jackson has assembled a Who’s Who of Nolan Ryan’s friends and competitors to comment on his truly extraordinary life and career.