The Huntsville Item, Huntsville, TX

Local News

April 30, 2012

Nolan Ryan speaks at SHSU

HUNTSVILLE — Baseball Hall of Famer and Texas legend Nolan Ryan delighted guests with tales of his childhood and professional pitching career Monday night on the campus of Sam Houston State University.

In front of a full crowd inside the Gaertner Performing Arts Center, Ryan, who played for four teams during his 27-year career including the Texas Rangers and Houston Astros, left Bearkat fans thinking about what might have been had fate worked out a little bit differently.

Ryan said that coming out of high school he wanted to play baseball for Tom Chandler at Texas A&M, but the legendary coach told him he should probably go to a community college first. Ryan then committed to Sam Houston, where his brother and two of his sisters earned their degrees.

But the New York Mets swooped in and drafted Ryan in 1965 and he would go on to rewrite the MLB record books.

“That was about as close as I got to being a Bearkat,” Ryan said.

Ryan was the featured guest for “Mingling with a Major Leaguer” on Monday which was part of the President’s Speaker Series and produced by the students of Priority One, a course within the university’s department of mass communication. He fielded questions from SHSU president Dana Gibson and Peter Roussel, the Warner Endowed Chair of Journalism.

Ryan talked about helping his father deliver a paper route for the Houston Post when he was growing up in Alvin, which helped pay for his sisters to go to college. He joked that Sam Houston State was the beneficiary of that money.

He also brought a roar of laughter from the crowd when Gibson asked him what the secret of his longevity during his playing career was which saw seven different presidents in the White House, beginning with Lyndon B. Johnson and ending with Bill Clinton.

“I’m just glad you did not say Lincoln,” Ryan said with a laugh.

Ryan played with the Mets, California Angels and Astros before finishing up with the Rangers, which he is currently principal owner, president and CEO. He holds the MLB record for strikeouts (5,714) and no-hitters (seven) and won more than 300 games. He is also a successful cattle rancher and business man.

“I have been blessed because I have two passions in life — baseball and the cattle business — and I have been successful at both,” Ryan said. “For some reason when I was a little boy I wanted to be in the cattle business. Baseball afforded me that opportunity and I have been able to be in the cattle business for almost 40 years.”

Ryan also offered some advice to the students who were on hand for whatever future endeavors might await them.

“I believe in treating people the way you want to be treated and I really feel that is important,” he said. “No matter what field you go into, have a passion for what you are doing and that you are happy. I feel it is very important to be happy in doing what you are doing and that your relationship with your coworkers is important.”

Of course Ryan could not escape the evening without being asked about his famous run-in with Robin Ventura of the Chicago White Sox in 1993. During a game, Ryan hit Ventura with a pitch, and the third baseman, who was 20 years younger, charged the mound.

Ryan grabbed Ventura, who is now the manager of the White Sox, in a headlock and got in several punches before the fight was broken up. The topic was a big story earlier this season when the White Sox came to Arlington to open the season against the Rangers.

Ryan said that he had two similar instances like that happen to him earlier in his career against Hall of Famers Willie McCovey and Dave Winfield.

“When Robin came out, I was just relieved he was a normal-sized person,” Ryan said as he brought another round of laughter from the crowd. “I could see eye to eye with him.”


Text Only
Local News
  • 4-24 Relay.jpg Walking, dining with purpose

    Folks are gearing up for this year’s Walker County Relay For Life on May 2 and festivities get underway this weekend when a special group of people will be honored.

    April 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • American dream to become reality

    What happens to a dream when it’s shelved? Will it cause the dreamer to loose faith in themselves?
    Huntsville resident Laura Delfin grew tired of wondering these very questions. She had deferred her dream of becoming a United States citizen for the last 10 years.

    April 23, 2014

  • Texas Bankers Hall of Fame names four honorees

    The selection committee of the Texas Bankers Hall of Fame announced the selection of Tieman H. Dippel Jr., Tom C. Frost, Joseph M. Grant and Rogers Pope Sr. as this year’s honorees to be inducted Thursday in the Lowman Ballroom of Sam Houston State University.

    April 23, 2014

  • Literary scholar named SHSU humanities, social sciences dean

    Abbey Zink, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences and professor of English at Texas A&M University-Kingsville, has been appointed the dean of Sam Houston State University’s College of Humanities and Social Sciences.

    April 23, 2014

  • 4-23-the-hive-Behind-The-Hive.jpg THE HIVE: Behind the scenes at The Hive

    The Hive is about more than just journalism. It’s about expanding horizons.
    Being a part of a broadcast journalism team is a huge step for many students.
    Some students come equipped with a level of charisma that makes it easy to be on camera, others really have to push themselves.

    April 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • 4-23-hive-GGs-Spring-Show-Dress-Rehearsal.jpg THE HIVE: May we have this dance?

    Recently, the Huntsville High School Grenadier Guards traveled to Galveston to compete in the Showtime International National dance competition. The dance team took home a national first-place award for team modern, and national second-place awards for team pom, contemporary and open.

    April 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • 4-23-the-hive-CTE-Goes-CSI.jpg THE HIVE: CTE goes CSI

    Some students in the CTE Department’s (Career and Technology Education) forensics class at Huntsville High School got a chance last week to get “hands on” at the Brayton Fire Training Field in College Station.
    With simulated crime scenes, demonstrations of arson investigation techniques, students got up close and personal with authentic crime scene situations.

    April 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • 4-23-the-hive-MTB-article-picture.jpg THE HIVE: Hornet mountain bikers make strong showing

    It’s 10 o’clock on Sunday morning.
    With cloudy skies and heavy air, members of the Huntsville High School mountain bike team line up at the starting line. With adrenaline pumping and legs eager to start pedaling, the bell sounds.
    They’re off.

    April 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • 4-23-Davison,-Brent.jpg Infant stable, but still critical

    A 2-month-old baby who was found unresponsive at a Huntsville residence last week is in stable but critical condition at a Houston hospital.

    April 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • Historian: Let’s talk about civil rights in Huntsville

    In 1965, the civil rights movement made its way to the city of Huntsville, beginning with a sit-in at the Cafe Raven, a popular restaurant at the time.
    To celebrate next year’s 50th anniversary of the move toward racial integration, the Sam Houston Memorial Museum will be hosting an oral history event for citizens and senior citizens to get together and share their accounts of the civil rights movement in Huntsville on Thursday night at 7.

    April 22, 2014


House Ads
Twitter Updates
Follow us on twitter
AP Video
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide