August 03, 2011

The Ryan Express, Passing Birthdaytown; Next Stop: Walkville

Nolan Ryan, 1989 Baseball Cards magazine

Allow me to begin with a tangent. My in-laws were in town last year during the ALCS. FOX kept showing Nolan Ryan, now President of the Texas Rangers, in the stands, which prompted my father-in-law to ask us if we remembered when Nolan Ryan appeared years ago in a series of “panties commercials.” Now, a few things every now and then are lost in translation with my father-in-law, but he seemed quite convinced that Nolan Ryan had, at one time, appeared in “panties commercials.” The conversation that took place as a result of this caused us to miss most of the game, and ultimately resulted in me joyously Googling “Nolan Ryan panties,” which did not return any results (except this), and which did very little in the way of convincing my father-in-law that he was mistaken.

Anyhoo, other than being a questionable endorser of panties, what else was Nolan Ryan famous for?

Nolan Ryan is a living legend who in many respects just gets better with age.

I am trying to figure what respects other than “pitching”—although one could argue he inspired awe in that he pitched as well as he did as a younger man; not necessarily better ... nitpicking alert!—Nolan Ryan got better at with age. Driving? Joke-telling? Romancing? Horseback riding? Probably all of them, let us assume.

Never a big winner,

I kind of get what they’re trying to say here—that Nolan Ryan was never renown for posting big win totals each year. However: a) he posted back-to-back 20-win seasons in ’73 and ’74 (19 in ’72), b) finished his career with 324 wins, c) he probably didn’t win a bunch of games each year because he played for some bad teams, walked a crapload of guys, and didn’t hit enough home runs during the games he pitched because WINS ARE A STUPID STATISTIC FOR A PITCHER SO WHY EVEN MENTION IT??!!!

Sorry. Had to get that out of my system. Where were we? Oh yeah, Nolan Ryan was a loser. What else?

Ryan is still one of the game’s very best strikeout pitchers, even though he passed his 42nd birthday in January.

Did he pass his birthday in that he was like, “Forty-two? That is stupid. PASS! I am 43-years old now. For my present I am going to strike you out. Where’s my cake?”

Ryan credits a rigorous off-season conditioning program for his success, which he hopes to bring to the Rangers in a big way in 1989.

Nolan Ryan, arrives at Rangers camp in spring of ’89, gets to clubhouse, looks in his gym bag: Crap! I forgot my rigorous off-season conditioning program! I had hoped to bring that here in a big way. Oh well. At least I didn’t forget my panties.

Ryan has eight strikeout titles to his credit, eight walk titles,

Walk titles? Is that a thing? I thought walks were bad for a pitcher. Like, really bad. You get a title for that? Like a trophy? A belt, maybe? Nolan Ryan walked 204 guys in 1977, so I imagine a parade was involved? This is all news to me.

As portrayed in the accompanying cartoon, Nolan Ryan frequently pitched—or, “hurled,” as many people prefer to say—with a gun in the holster, which probably accounted for much of his success.

P.s.: Get well, Mr. Ryan!
P.p.s.: I Googled "Nolan Ryan" to get the above link, and discovered that "The Baseball Card Blog" appears on Page 1 of that search. Page 1! Right below a link to "Nolan Ryan's Beef." So like, we did it! Or something!


Insomniac #4 said...

This is too funny!

I always thought that writing text for baseball cards would be the best job ever. I even applied at a couple places, thinking I could combine my writing "talent" with my passion for sports.

It's too bad I didn't get the job. I'd like to think I could have done better than this, lol.

Batboy said...

Please, for the love of panties, go to Nolan Ryan's Wikipedia page and scroll down to the picture with the caption, "Nolan Ryan playing with some dogs."

mkenny59 said...

@Insomniac #4: Thank you! And yes, I believe, judging only by the coherence of your comment, that you have been much better than almost any baseball card text writer I have read (at least from the 80s/90s.

@Batboy: That pic is amazing! I love how it's part of the "Later activity" section, as if that picture sums up his post-retirement life. Teasing dogs with what looks like an apple.