The Round Rock Express via ‘The Ryan Express’

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Tony Maples Photography


Everything is bigger in Texas, and for Texas baseball fans, there is nothing bigger than the legend of Nolan Ryan. Born and raised in Texas, Nolan began his major league career with the New York Mets and the California Angels. Later in his career, he played for both Texas teams. After having played for the Houston Astros from 1980 to 1988, he retired from baseball and the Texas Rangers team in 1993.

Nicknamed “The Ryan Express”, because of his incredibly fast pitch delivery, he set records for strikeouts and no-hitters. His records for seven no-hitters and over 5000 strike-outs still stand. Impressive as that is, the most memorable incident of his career was the challenge at the mound by Robin Ventura.

Ryan Ventura

Photo: Facebook/ MLB

At bat was Robin Ventura for the Chicago White Sox. On the mound for the Texas Rangers was fan favorite Nolan Ryan. Nolan’s pitch missed its intended strike zone and hit Ventura instead. Angry and infuriated, Ventura charged the pitcher’s mound. Little did he know, the native Texan possessed skills not only in baseball, but also in steer wrestling. With a seemingly natural defensive move, Nolan headlocks Ventura like he was bulldogging a calf, delivers some quick knuckle punches, and the contest was over. Later, former owner President George W. Bush was quoted as saying, “It was a fantastic experience for the Texas Rangers fans.” Nolan Ryan, 46 years old at the time, was 20 years older than Robin Ventura! During his retirement ceremonies at Arlington Stadium, the Texas Rangers presented Nolan Ryan with two calves for his ranch. They were named Robin and Ventura!

Nolan Ryan Ranch

Photo: Facebook/ Nolan Ryan Beef

What comes naturally to Nolan Ryan is baseball and ranching. His Texas ranches in Alvin and Gonzales keep the Texas beef industry demand well supplied. His Round Rock Express baseball team in the Texas Hill country keeps his fans delighted and grateful that his baseball legacy continues. The franchise is family owned and was founded by his son Reid Ryan, with Nolan Ryan and Don Sanders as principal owners. The Express baseball team plays its home games at Dell Diamond in Round Rock, Texas just 20 miles north of downtown Austin. They are a Triple A club in the Pacific Coast League and are currently affiliated with the Texas Rangers organization. Fans in this area of the Hill Country stay in full swing all season. Certainly the continued respect for Nolan Ryan and the fascination with his major league legacy add to the attraction of this baseball team. There is always that hopeful expectancy to catch a glimpse, a picture, or an autograph of the Texas baseball legend.

Round Rock Express

Photo: Facebook/ Round Rock Express

The Round Rock Express baseball team has generated a substantial loyal following of its own. Average attendance is over 8,000 fans per game and total attendance has impressively stayed over 500, 000 each of the last 10 years! They were in the 2015 Pacific Coast League playoffs and their home schedule is filled with fan appreciation events, game promotions, and concerts. It is affordable fun for the entire family as the Texas baseball tradition continues.

The Ryan Express may have retired to his ranch in Texas but his baseball legacy continues in the Texas Hill country with the Round Rock Express.