ARLINGTON, Texas – Nolan Ryan returned to Rangers Ballpark in Arlington on Friday night for the time in six years without the title of part owner, CEO or president of the ballclub.
Back at the ballpark as a special guest for the UT-Arlington’s 2014 First Pitch Banquet, Ryan said it was a different feeling driving up to the stadium and not having an affiliation with the Rangers and the commitment he had to the franchise.
That was and still is bittersweet for Ryan, who will be 67 on Jan. 31.
“When you feel like you didn’t get everything done you’d like to see get done there’s some disappointment, but I have very fond memories of my years here with the Rangers,” said Ryan, who resigned as CEO on Oct. 18. “I got here early and visited with some of the executives that I’ve worked with for six years. It was really nice to see them and get caught up with how they’re doing. It’s been a nice return for me to just get caught up on some old friendships.”
Ryan was asked about what the organization didn’t get done, looking back at the six years that saw the Rangers rise to the top of baseball, making it to the franchise’s first two World Series in 2010 and ’11.
“Win a world championship,” Ryan said. “A lot of neat things happened while I was here, but we didn’t get it done so that’s disappointing.”
Ryan continues to leave open the possibility of returning in some role to another team with everyone seemingly focused on the other major league team in Texas, the Houston Astros, where his son Reid is the president of business operations for the team.
“I haven’t made any plans of any sort,” Ryan said of returning with another team. “I’m certainly open if anyone has an interest in me but right now I’m not looking for a job or anything.”
And the Hall of Famer understands the link to the Astros, where he pitched for nine years, the most of any of the four clubs he played for during his 27-year career.
“Everyone is making that assumption because of Reid being over there and the fact I played there longer than I did anywhere else,” Ryan said. “I was basically a Colt .45 and Astro fan and that’s my hometown in a sense. I could see where that’s the expectation.”
Ryan said he has enjoyed his retirement so far, spending time in Round Rock at his office and at his ranch in South Texas. He said he is more involved than ever in his beef company.
“I’ve been pretty good at this retired deal,” Ryan said. “It’s really been good because I’ve been able to set my own schedule and don’t have nearly as many requirements and requests.
“It’s kind of nice because I’m not in a hurry doing things. That’s different than what I’m accustomed too. I’m enjoying the fact I can set my schedule and go to the ranch and I can stay three days or I can stay a week because I don’t have to be somewhere else.”
Ryan, who became the face of the Rangers -- again -- when he arrived back as team president in 2008, said he has nothing but fondness for the six years he helped turn the Rangers into one of the top franchises in baseball.
“I’m not a believer in regrets,” Ryan said. “I feel very blessed I had the opportunity to be here for six years in the role that I was.”