Nolan Ryan honored for more than pitching

Posted Saturday, Sep. 14, 2013  comments  Print Reprints
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greene Baseball legend Nolan Ryan received the Arlington Chamber of Commerce’s highest award at the organization’s annual banquet this past week.

Less than a year ago, the Fort Worth Chamber along with Texas Wesleyan University and the Fort Worth Business Press named him Business Executive of the Year.

Ryan is one of the most honored local figures ever, and residents of the region have the privilege of being able to call him one of their own.

His importance to our area goes far beyond his achievements that earned him a place in the National Baseball Hall of Fame. That’s why local business organizations have added their plaques, medals and awards to his jam-packed trophy room.

Baseball is big business. When you can find someone who combines national hero status with expertise to produce economic gain for the community, you not only have hit a home run into the outfield stands, but one into the treasuries of the community as well.

Ryan arrived here in 1989 to accept the offer of the Texas Rangers to play one more season before he retired. That led to five seasons and, while adding still more amazing statistics to his already historic career records, took him into Arlington’s campaign to build a new ballpark for the team.

If voters were going to approve a tax increase — something they hardly ever want to do — to ensure a long-term future with the team, they needed to understand the economic benefits for doing so in addition to the thrill of the crack of the bat.

With the naysayers’ usual diatribe about lending taxpayer support to corporate moguls as the centerpiece of their campaign against the new ballpark, the stage was set for a contentious election.

Ryan, who was never going to work off the mound in the new ballpark, assisted with another kind of pitch to explain how a public-private partnership between the city and team would produce a win for all.

He joined the discussion of the ways a successful baseball team would be a boon to the economy of the area and how it would commit itself to directly support community needs that would otherwise go unmet.

Under his leadership representing his fellow owners of the Texas Rangers Baseball Club, he has directed the affairs of the organization to deliver on those promises.

First, the team achieved elite status as a championship contender through the assembly of some of the best players in the game. That has resulted in record attendance accompanied by game-time television and radio audiences that rank among the top five teams in the country.

Those achievements have led to financial impacts in the local economy way beyond the projections that were made during the campaign to build the new ballpark.

The numbers can be counted in the billions of dollars that have flowed into the local economy since Rangers Ballpark in Arlington opened 20 years ago.

While ticket sales and broadcast revenues were setting records, the Rangers were also becoming one of the area’s largest corporate benefactors. Through the Texas Rangers Baseball Foundation, the club is providing financial support for community activities and non-profit organizations across the region.

Among the great many programs sponsored by the foundation are the revival of youth baseball in inner cities, health and fitness among fifth graders, youth education, college scholarship programs, help for youths in crisis, programming to counter bullying, assisting eighth graders acquire tools for transition into high schools, and much more.

So when news comes of business organizations honoring this famous CEO of a sports team, it’s easy to understand why.

Richard Greene, a former Arlington mayor, served as an appointee of President George W. Bush as regional administrator for the Environmental Protection Agency.

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