Nolan Ryan was never one to take anything from anybody. It doesn’t look like the hall of fame pitcher turned CEO is about to start now.
Robert Galloway of the Star Telegram is reporting that the Texas Rangers ownership group has usurped Ryan’s authority, and that the moves may result in Ryan leaving the team before the end of Spring Training.
Ryan, 66, was hired as the Ranger’s president in 2008. During his tenure in the front office, where he has been the chief baseball decision maker, the team has seen drastic improvement on the field and in attendance numbers. His moves have helped Texas win three consecutive division titles and allowed the club make back-to-back World Series appearances in 2010 and 2011.
Ryan still has three years remaining on his current contract, but it looks like if he chooses to remain with the organization, he will do so in a much smaller capacity than before.
Over the weekend, the Rangers announced that Jon Daniels was promoted president of baseball operations/GM and that Rick George was promoted to president of business operations. Galloway cites several verified sources who have said this means Daniels , and not Ryan, will have final say on all baseball related decisions and George will have final say over all business decisions.
Ryan will retain his title of CEO, but his job function will be scaled back. Even in denying that the ownership group was stripping Ryan of power, co-owner Bob Simpson alluded to how the pitching icon’s role will be different.
“Nolan Ryan will still make the anything-of-significance decisions and bring those to the owners for approval,” Simpson said. “I say significant decisions because we wanted to remove some of the day-to-day stuff from Nolan.”
Ryan has yet to comment on the situation, but Galloway’s sources think his leaving is a realistic possibility, and if it happens it will happen sooner rather than later. Ryan’s departure could be a public relations disaster with the fan base in Texas, which begs the question – why change things up, especially considering Texas’ success on the field during the past three seasons?
The Rangers obviously don’t want to lose Ryan completely. As the all-time leader in strikeouts and one of the most dominant and feared pitchers in major league history, Ryan is nothing short of an icon. But if he is no a chief decision-maker with the club, his role could effectively be reduced to a voiceless, hand-shaking, face-of-the-franchise personality. It’s something that cannot sit well with the hall of famer.
If Ryan does leave the Rangers, some have speculated that there is a perfect landing spot elsewhere in the state of Texas. The Houston Astros are in rebuilding mode much like the Rangers were when Ryan was first hired. They have a new owner with money to spend and tons of young players who could use a strong personality with an even stronger reputation to help mold them as they grow into their roles as big leaguers. Ryan also spent nine seasons with Houston in the 1980s, so the hire would certainly energize a fan base that has watched their team struggle more than any other in baseball in the last few years.
“Don’t think I haven’t thought of that,” Simpson said when asked about the possibility of Ryan taking a job with the Astros. “But Nolan isn’t going anywhere, not as far as I’m concerned.”