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Nolan Ryan still bringing the heat for Rangers
For all the accolades in Ryan’s pitching career, he’s already built a better postseason resume as management _ two trips to the World Series in four years, as opposed to just one in uniform. It came very early in his playing days, as a reliever on the 1969 “Amazin’ Mets.”
It’s a different kind of satisfaction, but the emotions are the same. Just watch the telecast of any big game because cameras are always pointed his way, usually catching a steely stare or a thin, wide smile.
“I couldn’t be any prouder of a group of people as I am of this ballclub,” Ryan said at the start of the playoffs.
Take Darren Oliver, the 41-year-old reliever. He was a wide-eyed rookie when he was Ryan’s teammate with the Rangers in 1993, so intimidated he said only “Hi” and “Bye” and never called Ryan by name. Now Oliver has an even greater appreciation for Ryan.
“There’s instant respect when you see him,” Oliver said. “When he comes around and has something to say, people listen.”
Mike Adams grew up in South Texas and idolized Ryan, a South Texas native himself. When Adams was traded from the Padres to the Rangers at the trade deadline, one of his first thoughts was “the opportunity I might have to meet him.”
“I was a little bit awestruck when I did meet him,” Adams said. “I wanted to be professional. But I was a kid at the same time. Now that I’ve been around him a little more, I’ve had an opportunity to sit down and talk with him a little bit.”
Adams is a tall guy who uses a high leg kick to generate velocity, just like Ryan did, so the setup man asked about whether to speed up his motion when there’s a runner on base. Adams smiled as he talked about successfully using the new approach in Game 2. He also acknowledged that what Ryan said _ “Don’t sacrifice the hitter for the runner” _ was similar to what he’s heard before.
“It’s just the fact it came from him,” Adams said. “It kind of snapped a little bit because it came from him.”
Moore has been in pro baseball since the 1950s, long enough for him to fully appreciate what Ryan has overseen in turning Texas from a perennially mediocre-or-worse team into a back-to-back AL pennant winner. Moore also understands the difficulty of repeating because he was with the Reds when they won went from winning it all in ‘90 to last place in the division in ‘91.
“This was an organization always on the move in all different directions,” Moore said, ticking off the names of all the owners and managers he’s worked for in Arlington. “For a lot of years, we made a lot of promises that did not pan out. Here again, this is why it’s great to have Nolan Ryan’s name on it.
“He’s sitting there in the front office like he does with his cattle ranch _ he’s just riding herd over the organization,” Moore continued. Then he paused for effect, smiled and added: “I’m just very happy to be a Texas Ranger.”
By Tom Fitton
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