ARLINGTON, Texas – There are plenty of All-Star memories made alongside some of the greatest players in baseball history for Texas Rangers CEO Nolan Ryan.
But out of his eight All-Star selections, nothing compares to his first midsummer classic.
The Ryan Express didn’t play in his first All-Star Game in 1972 as a California Angel in Atlanta, Ga. -- a game that featured 25 future Hall of Famers, including Ryan -- but he remembers his first selection as an exciting time.
“You’re just glad to be there,” Ryan said. “You hope maybe you get in but you certainly understand as a first-timer it may not work out that way.”
When the annual event rolls around every season, Ryan thinks about those players who will get their first taste of the All-Star experience. This year, Ryan has two of his own pitchers making their first trip to the All-Star Game: C.J. Wilson and Alexi Ogando.
“I think they’ll have a very great time, feel real special and feel very honored that they were selected,” Ryan said.
Ryan’s final All-Star appearance also ranks high on his list. In 1989, Ryan returned to Anaheim Stadium, where he played eight seasons for the Angels in his career.
As a 42-years-old pitcher for the Rangers, Ryan was the oldest player on either roster. He pitched two shutout innings in the second and third and picked up the 5-3 victory over the National League, becoming the oldest pitcher to win an All-Star Game.
Ryan always played the exhibition game with something to prove. Ryan wanted to play well at every All-Star Game and represent his organization, thinking All-Star veterans Michael Young, Josh Hamilton and Adrian Beltre will do the same Tuesday in Phoenix.
“It’s a special opportunity and it’s one of those things that anytime you make an All-Star team, you are just gratified that people look at you that way,” Ryan said.