STEVE SERBY’S EXCLUSIVE Q&A WITH RANGERS OWNER … NOLAN RYAN
On the eve of the ALCS, The Post’s Steve Serby chatted with the
Rangers’ part-owner who owns major league records with seven
no-hitters and 5,714 strikeouts, and won 324 games and a World
Series with the 1969 Mets.
Q: Do you have to tell your guys that the
Yankees put their pants on the same
A: No, I really think our guys have developed a level of
confidence from the fact when (the
Yankees) came (to Texas) in
September, we swept ’em. (That) probably did us a lot of good. We
know we can play with ’em. The pitchers know if they make good
pitches and don’t get in trouble, they believe they can pitch to
Q: You think you’ve got a shot?
A: I tell you what, I really think we line up pretty well
Q: What do you like best about your team?
A: The fact that they’re resilient, they never think they’re
beat, and they keep battling back. And when you think they’re done,
they get back up and come out the next day and play like nothing
Q: Is that a reflection of their manager (Ron Washington)?
A: It’s a reflection of Ron in certain ways. I think he’s very
positive; he understands baseball, and so he doesn’t get too high
or too low. Coming out of spring training, they were determined
they had something to prove. They’re very committed to going
further in the postseason than they’ve ever been before.
They have every intention of getting to the World Series. That’s
the mindset they have.
Q: How would you describe your mound temperament?
Q: Reggie Jackson once said he feared you more than any
A: It probably had something to do with my control and the style
of pitcher I was. I threw hard and I was wild.
Q: How would you sum up your days in New York with the Mets?
A: I never pitched on a regular basis to the point where I ever
got enough innings where I made a lot of headway with my delivery
and my control. I was probably rushed to the big leagues and it was
probably a reflection on the God-given ability I had. It probably
would have served me better if I spent a couple of more years in
the minor leagues accumulating innings. In those days, we didn’t
have a pitching coach. The first pitching coach I ever had was in
the big leagues.
Q: Did you not enjoy New York?
A: It’s hard for me to say I enjoyed New York when I struggled
so much, and obviously it affects your attitude about things.
If I’d played there later in my career, my attitude might have
been different. I was frustrated and was so inconsistent. Any time
you’re like that, it’s extremely frustrating, so I stayed
frustrated a lot.
Q: You asked for a trade?
A: I mentioned to (thenGM) Bob Scheffing if they had an
opportunity to trade me, it might be in their best interests and
mine. I just felt like with the Mets trying to repeat what they’d
done in ’69, they didn’t have the luxury of letting me work my
problems out in the big leagues.
Q: The ’69 Mets?
A: It was a magical year. In the second half of the year, we got
a lot of momentum going and the Cubs were struggling. As we got
into the pennant drive, it was a lot like the (Rangers) club we
have now. We started believing in ourselves.
Q: When did that belief kick in with the Mets?
A: I think it was a growing process. It probably truly started
toward the end of August.
Q: Your Rangers team has that same belief?
A: I see it in ’em in the way they respond after adversity and
they believe they’re better than they played that particular night,
and they don’t let it pull ’em down.
They put it aside and focus on the game at hand. That’s what you
saw in Game 5 in Tampa.
Q: The young Tom Seaver?
A: Exceptionally good fastball and slider . . . very good
control . . .
had a real feel for pitching.
Q: Gil Hodges?
A: No-nonsense-type manager.
Expected you to give your best effort every day, and he expected
you to respect the game.
Q: Winning the World Series.
A: It was just a magical moment.
A dream come true.
Q: Why did you guys believe you could upset the Orioles?
A: Just because we had done what we did with the Cubs – we were
behind ’em and we overtook ’em. We looked at the Orioles a lot like
we looked at the Cubs. We just felt like they didn’t respect us as
a ballclub. I remember Frank Robinson going on Johnny Carson and
mentioning they didn’t even know any of the guys on (our) team.
Q: How do you think the
Yankees view your team?
A: Obviously we have some veterans on our club that are
wellrespected in (Vlad) Guerrero and Michael Young and Cliff Lee. I
Yankees are quite familiar with
Cliff Lee and what his capabilities are. I think they obviously
know we have some talented kids. With “SportsCenter” and all the
electronic media today, I don’t think the Texas Rangers are really
as unknown as the New York Mets were to the American League.
Q: Your first strikeout?
A: If it would have been Henry Aaron or Eddie Mathews or Joe
Torre, I’d have a much more vivid memory of it than Pat Jarvis (a
Q: Your first no-hitter?
A: That was the furthest thing from my mind. I was not a no-hit
pitcher growing up.
Q: You threw seven no-hitters.
A: It’s just one of those special days where everything comes
together and allows you to be in that position.
Q: Your seventh no-hitter (at age 44)?
A: I really thought that part of my career was behind me.
Q: Your 300th victory?
A: It was the second time went for it. It was a relief because I
didn’t want our fans have to continue following around hoping I’d
do it and wanting to be there.
Q: Your 5,000th strikeout?
A: My ability to strike hitters out was God-gifted ability.
Also the fact that I didn’t have a career-crippling injury . I
was very fortunate and blessed to remain a strikeout pitcher my
entire career. A lot of it was a gift, a lot of it was having the
determination and desire to pitch that long to make the most of the
ability you were given.
Q: You considered retirement in 1971?
A: I was so frustrated with my inability to throw strikes and be
consistent. I felt like my opportunity to be a starting pitcher in
the big leagues was slipping away me.
Q: What changed your mind?
A: My wife (Ruth). She told me that I need to stay with it and
give myself more time and that I was passing up a unique
She just convinced me I shouldn’t give up on myself. Then I got
traded and the Angels gave me an opportunity to pitch every four
Q: One pitcher today you would like to have battled?
A: (Roy) Halladay with the Phillies is definitely one of the
premier pitchers in baseball right now. I think Cliff Lee obviously
would be a very big challenge because of his ability to pitch so
late into games and also the fact he gives up so few runs. CC
(Sabathia) is a very dominating pitcher. You know you’re gonna have
to be on your game to beat him.
Q: One hitter you would love to have challenged?
A: A couple of years ago, I’da said Manny Ramirez. The hitters
that gave me the most trouble were left-handed contact hitters that
didn’t pull the ball and hit it where it was pitched . . . George
Brett . . . Rod Carew . . . Pete Rose . . . Tony Gwynn . . . those
kind of hitters.
Q: You oppose pitch counts?
A: What we need to do as an organization is try to build your
pitchers up and have them pitch as much off the mound as you can,
have ’em in the best physical shape you can have ’em, and be
observant where they start laboring and fatigue sets in and they
I think you’re losing a lot of innings and overloading your
Q: You once threw 235 pitches in an extra-inning game. How did
that affect you in your next start?
A: I pitched four days later and won.
Q: So you believe pitchers today are coddled?
A: They’re a product of baseball. They’re on a pitch limit from
the time they start in Little League and they stay on one all the
way through in their career, so you don’t have any idea what their
Q: No pickle brine for your pitchers?
A: No, the Met trainer started that, I had a blister
Q: Bobby Valentine?
A: He was a teammate of mine with the Angels until that injury
to his leg cut his career short and then he was my manager for four
years with the Rangers. He was as confident as anybody I played
with and for.
Q; What do you remember about his career-ending injury?
A: I saw his leg snap when he went up on the fence to try to
catch Dick Green’s ball. When we went out there and they put him on
the stretcher and were carrying him off, it seemed his foot was
flopping back and forth. I remember how grotesque it was. He was in
Q: Your first glove?
A: It was a very big event. I was the last of six kids, I got
many hand-me-downs instead. My dad took me to the hardware store
and let me pick out my first glove.
Q: Alvin, Texas?
A: It was a small town. We didn’t know we didn’t have a lot of
You felt no pressure as a kid.
Q: Is it fun or stressful being an owner?
A: I view it pretty much with the same set of eyes I had when I
was just president of the club and worry about the same things and
look at the overall operation the same. I’ve enjoyed it, but we’re
reaping the benefits of a lot of hard work over a long period of
time with the development of our farm system. . . . A lot of that
goes back under Tom Hicks’ watch.
YANKEES ON NYPOST.COM
Go inside the ALCS with in-depth coverage of the
Yankees and Rangers, only on
LIVE CHAT: Join Mark Hale today at noon live from Rangers
Ballpark in Arlington when he takes your questions on the series
prior to Game 1.
BEST TWEETS IN THE HOUSE: We’ll have you covered from the first
pitch until the final out with the Post’s baseball writers live on
LIVE GAMETRACKER: Pitch-by-pitch coverage of every game, a live
box score, and complete inning-by-inning recaps. After the final
out, reactions from the press box and clubhouse.
POST PICS: Photo galleries capturing all the big moments from
POLLS: Vote daily on the biggest and most controversial issues
from every game.