It was a short, simple press release, issued after the conclusion of a bitingly cold game at Rangers Ballpark. But it was enough.
Nolan Ryan is staying with the Texas Rangers.
Rangers fans rejoiced at Wednesday’s announcement, which ended weeks of speculation about Ryan’s tenure with the club. The Ryan Express will be tied to the Rangers organization for the foreseeable future.
For one, let’s hope Ryan returns to the forefront of the organization. It was no fun for anyone when Ryan wasn’t part of the press conference for Elvis Andrus’ contract extension. We never got to hear Ryan give his blessing on Opening Day, either in Houston or Arlington.
Ryan didn’t want to answer questions about his status, which was in question ever since the March 1 announcement that GM Jon Daniels would assume the title of President of Baseball Operations and Chief Operating Officer Rick George would be promoted to President of Business Operations.
Ryan, the team CEO, had also held the president’s title and was heavily involved in both the baseball side and the business side of the team. Although Ryan was quoted in that press release, he remained virtually silent ever since, which is his right.
Ryan’s image is all over the Rangers. Seemingly half the commercials in Rangers broadcasts feature Ryan. They sell Nolan Beef and hot dogs at the concession stands and will be giving away a Nolan Ryan bobblehead next month.
Ryan owns the Rangers’ Triple-A affiliate in Round Rock, which switched from being an Astros farm team after Ryan took over the front office in Arlington.
Whenever a Ryan highlight from his playing days is shown on the big screen — especially the whippin’ he gave poor Robin Ventura — it always draws a reaction from the crowd.
But there’s nothing like seeing and hearing the man himself. He has a presence that people respond to. Not just the ticket-buying public, but baseball people have a great respect for Ryan.
He’s more than a figurehead for the franchise. At 66, he’s far from hanging it up. Hopefully, Wednesday’s announcement — which emphasized that Daniels and George report to him — means that he is still heavily involved in the team’s decisions.
Ryan is too heavily invested in the Rangers to simply walk away. And team ownership obviously recognizes that you just don’t let a Nolan Ryan walk out the door.
As long as all the parties involved continue to walk side-by-side, the Rangers and Ryan will continue to be a fruitful partnership.