Nolan Ryan, the Hall of Famer known for his red-hot right arm, fiery personality and management savvy, is retiring as the chief executive officer of the Texas Rangers at the end of October, the team announced Thursday.
He had a few tough months in the front office. Last March, the Rangers stripped Ryan of his team president title, leading many to believe that he would leave the team. Many observers said he was being forced out.
Ryan served as Rangers president in 2008 before becoming chief executive officer in 2011. Ryan, who played for the Rangers from 1989 to 1993, threw a record seven no-hitters during his Major League career.
The Rangers announced Ryan’s retirement in a press release, then followed it with a news conference in which Ryan used a different word to describe his departure.
“I am resigning as CEO of the Texas Rangers,” Ryan said.
Questioned later, Ryan said the words "retiring" and "resigning" should be considered interchangeable.
Ryan said it's the right time to leave the Rangers, and it’s not because of the front office changes. Ryan, 66, says he wants to spend more time with his grandchildren and hang out on his ranch.
“I just look at it from where I am in life and what I want to do going forward," he said. "And that’s what really drove my decision.”
Ryan said that he's proud of what the Rangers have accomplished in recent years. He thanked fans for record attendance at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington. He's pleased with various ballpark upgrades. Ryan says that the team is in good hands.
Ryan was named the team's 10th president in 2008. During the franchise's first 49 seasons, the team made just three total postseason trips. But while Ryan was in charge, the Rangers made the playoffs in three consecutive years (2010, 2011 and 2012).
Rangers co-chair Ray Davis says there are no plans to replace Ryan.
Here are highlights from Thursday's press conference:
- “It’s time for me to move on to other things,” Ryan said. “It has been a decision that has weighed on me heavily, but I feel like it’s the right decision.”
- Ryan thanked the Rangers fans: “I was here during a very exciting time and to see the support we’ve got from our fan base here is very rewarding."
- Ryan doesn’t plan on being the CEO for another Major League baseball club, but he didn’t rule out playing some sort of role with another team. His son, Reid, was named president of the Houston Astros earlier this year.
- Ryan said he felt like he has a good relationship with Jon Daniels, the team’s general manager, even though there were reports of tension since Ryan was stripped of his team president title.
- Bob Simpson, the team’s other lead owner, says he will miss sitting with Ryan at the games: “I was first a fan of Nolan’s before I was a friend, going back to the day he was becoming a legend, probably the greatest pitcher of all time. ”
- Ryan said that Davis and Simpson have bought his ownership in the ballclub.
- Simpson and Davis say that Ryan is irreplaceable and they expect some backlash from fans. But they hope fans will stick with the team despite Ryan’s departure.
Relive some of Ryan's most memorable moments with the Rangers.
Watch the famous 1993 confrontation between Ryan and Robin Ventura:
Ryan also played for the New York Mets, the California Angels and Houston Astros.
Davis and Simpson said in a statement: “Under Nolan’s leadership and guidance over the last six years, the Rangers organization has made enormous strides both on and off the field. Nolan has meant so much to this franchise and to our fans. We thank him for his many contributions, including his role in helping to develop one of the finest baseball operations staff in the game."
Watch Ryan thank Tom House, the Rangers' pitching coach, during his 1999 induction speech: