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Nolan Ryan Has Plenty of Power Left

The startling news that Nolan Ryan was rushed to the hospital and had undergone double by-pass surgery this past Easter Sunday was a surprise to sports fans everywhere.

Ryan always seemed indestructible.

It was especially surprising news for me for I had gotten to know Nolan and his family so well when I wrote his autobiography "Throwing Heat" back in 1988. Of course, today he is 53 years old. Though all of us are vulnerable, Nolan has to be one of the least likely candidates for such a condition. He seems bigger than life.

But Nolan will get past this and back on his feet - he is the consummate survivor and, unlike so many other celebrities, what you see is what you get.

In my initial stage of working with Nolan, he suggested I call some of the people who knew him well and interview them. One of the names on the list was Red Murff, the tall Texan who had been a New York Mets scout and discovered Nolan when he was pitching in a high school game in Alvin, Texas. I called Murff from my hotel room in Houston and told him what I was about.

"You stay right where you are," he said, laying on the Texas drawl. "Who do you think you are calling me and telling me in that New York City accent that you want me to talk to you about Nolan? How do I know you're telling the truth?"

"Give me your phone number," he continued before I had a chance to respond. "I'm going to call Nolan and find out about you - and you better be telling the truth."

A few minutes later, my phone rang. "Sir, I am so sorry." The drawl had softened considerably. "I spoke to Nolan. You are the real deal. But, you know, we have to protect this man from phonies. What can I do for you?"

The book turned out to be Nolan's story told in his words and those of his family, friends, teammates and opponents. The idea of including these other voices came from his sister who early on asked, "How can you have a whole book told by Nolan? He's not too much of a talker".

Traveling to major league cities and ballparks with Nolan Ryan and interviewing the likes of Whitey Herzog, Dale Murphy, Pete Rose, Dave Winfield, Reggie Jackson, Tom Seaver, Brooks Robinson, etc., I was able to get remarkable perceptions, insights and comments about the man they called "The Ryan Express." But even more remarkable were the players on opposing teams who came over to me and asked: "What is Nolan Ryan really like?"

He had a special quiet mystique, and an aura that only a 100-mile-per-hour fastball can give. He was always looked upon as a player in a class by himself.

Nolan was and is all of that, but he is also an authentic American hero, a man highly loyal to friends. He is also a family man who takes pride in a long marriage (since 1967) to his intelligent and beautiful wife Ruth, and in his three children, Reese, Reid and Wendy.

Since writing "Throwing Heat", I have gone on to write quite a few more books. But my personal copy of "Thowing Heat" has always remained on a prominent place on my bookshelf. And Nolan has retained a special place in my memory.

Always the soft spoken Texas gentleman, never egotistical, Nolan was a wonderful person to be around and to work with. I enjoyed the pleasure of his company.

Get well, Nolan. You still have a lot to do with your life.

Harvey Frommer is the author of the classic "New York City Baseball 1947-1957: The Last Golden Age and of Nolan Ryan's autobiography "Throwing Heat"

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You can reach Harvey Frommer at:   

Email:  harvey.frommer@Dartmouth.EDU 

About the Author:

Harvey Frommer is in his  38th year of writing books. A noted oral historian and sports journalist, the author of 42 sports books including the classics: "New York City Baseball,1947-1957" and "Shoeless Joe and Ragtime Baseball," his acclaimed REMEMBERING YANKEE STADIUM was published in 2008 and his REMEMBERING FENWAY PARK: AN ORAL AND NARRATIVE HISTORY OF THE HOME OF RED SOX NATION was published to acclaim in 2011.  The prolific Frommer is at work on When It Was Just a Game, An Oral History on Super Bowel One. 

His work has appeared in the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Washington Post, New York Daily News, Newsday, USA Today, Men's Heath, The Sporting News, among other publications.

FROMMER SPORTSNET (syndicated) reaches a readership in the millions and is housed on Internet search engines for extended periods of time.
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Dr. Frommer is the Official Book Reviewer of Travel-Watch. 
*Autographed copies of Frommer books are available .

Other Frommer sports related articles can be found at:   

Harvey Frommer along with his wife, Myrna Katz  Frommer are the authors of five critically acclaimed oral/cultural histories, professors at Dartmouth  College, and travel writers who specialize in cultural history, food, wine, and Jewish history and heritage in the United States, Europe, and the Caribbean. 

This Article is Copyright 1995 - 2014 by Harvey Frommer.  All rights reserved worldwide.

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