Nolan Ryan returned to Rangers Ballpark on Friday night, though not to egg the place or put sugar in the gas tanks of general manager Jon Daniels’ and co-majority owner Ray Davis’ cars.
The Hall of Fame pitcher, who retired as Texas Rangers CEO on Oct. 31 after a tumultuous year, was the featured guest at the UT-Arlington baseball banquet, but arrived early enough to catch up with some old colleagues and friends.
That’s what retired people do, and Ryan is retired. For now. He is enjoying making his own schedule, spending time with his grandchildren and spending more time at his ranch and with his beef company.
He isn’t actively seeking employment from another major league club, not even the Houston Astros, but would listen if a team wanted to offer him a job.
“I’m pretty good at this retired deal,” Ryan said. “It’s really been good because I’ve been able to set my own schedule and don’t have nearly as many requirements and requests.
“It’s been a nice break for me. I don’t know what it’ll be like once spring training starts and the season starts. I haven’t made any plans of any sort. I’m certainly open if somebody has an interest in me, but right now I’m not out looking for a job or anything.”
The general feeling last month at the winter meetings was that Ryan would join the Astros and son Reid, their club president, at some point, and Ryan agreed that it is easy to jump to that conclusion.
Ryan, however, is only three months removed from announcing his retirement at a hastily arranged news conference that felt more like a termination than an amicable separation.
The Rangers haven’t folded shop this off-season without Ryan, who was hired as club president in 2008 by former owner Tom Hicks. Two years later Ryan was part of an ownership group that would end up buying the Rangers at a bankruptcy-court auction, and the Rangers went to the World Series in 2010 and 2011.
His lone regret in leaving the Rangers is that unfinished piece of business: bringing home a world title. He didn’t air any other grievances before addressing the UTA crowd at the Capital One Club.
“A lot of neat things happened while I was here,” said Ryan, who admitted that it was a bit odd driving to the Ballpark without an official association to the Rangers. “I’m not a believer in regrets. I feel very blessed I had the opportunity to be here for six years in the role that I was.”
Ryan hasn’t quite let go of baseball. He continues to oversee Triple A Round Rock, of which he is a principal owner, and he continues to monitor the transaction wire in baseball. It’s been a busy off-season, including with the Rangers.
They traded second baseman Ian Kinsler away to Detroit for first baseman Prince Fielder, then committed $130 million over seven years for left fielder Shin-Soo Choo. The starting rotation took a blow last week when left-hander Derek Holland underwent microfacture surgery on his left knee and was lost until at least the All-Star break.
“Offensively they’ve strengthened their ballclub,” Ryan said. “Obviously, with Derek having his leg problem and there being some question marks about the pitching staff, we know the impact pitching has. We’ll have to see how that works out.”