"Thank you. This is indeed a special day and I feel privileged to be here. I want to thank the sportswriters for this honor and I am humbled by it. I would like to say thank you to the guys that I faced over my career. Some of them are here sitting on this stage today and I can honestly say that I am enjoying seeing them now here more than I ever have and I really didn't particularly care for them when they had their uniforms on. Guys, I appreciate it. I enjoyed the competition and it was indeed an honor to face you."

"I'm going to spend my time today just thanking the people that played a role in my career because I truly do believe that I was blessed by a lot of people whose paths crossed mine as I went down the road in my career. My ability to throw a baseball was a gift - a God given gift - and I truly am appreciative of that gift. It took me a while to figure that out and realize what a gift I had been given, and when I finally did, I dedicated myself to be the best pitcher that I possibly could for as long as I possibly could. I had the pleasure, as Robin (Yount) said, to live a childhood dream as many young Americans and Puerto Rican children live and play youth baseball, and I feel honored and very thankful for that opportunity."

"My parents played a very big role in my life, and growing up as the last of six children, I didn't realize the influence that my parents had on me. And if they were here today, they would be very proud not only for this honor but of the fact that my four sisters and my brother are here today sharing this honor with me. They would be very proud to look at their children and see what they've accomplished in their lives and see that their dedication and their work ethic have paid off. They instilled that in all their children and I really feel like we passed that on to our children and hopefully it will continue to be passed on to generations to come."

"And to play as long as I did and to have a family, you have to be very blessed. And I was with my wife, Ruth. Ruth, I appreciate the job you did. And my three fine children, Reid, Reese and Wendy. Baseball life is a tough life on your family. And to be able to play as long as I did and to have the support that I had from my family - I can't tell you how much that means to me. They were the reason that I was able to play as long as I played because they gave me the support. My children spent 15 to 20 years of their lives in baseball. And Ruth and I spent so many years of our married lives in base that it is our life. We did nothing else. And when I retired, trust me, not only Nolan Ryan but the entire family had withdrawals from baseball. And it was tough. I always thought there was going to be life after baseball and so I designed that in my life. I would have other interests after baseball that I would be able to step in to. And I didn't realize the grip that base had on me and my family. I can honestly say it took two full years for me to get over the fact that I was no longer a baseball player."

"I would also like to honor, or recognize, excuse me, three people that are here today in the audience that were involved in my youth. Glenn York, Aubrey Homer and Jim Watson. They were coaches that I had in junior high and high school and I appreciate them making the effort to be here today."

"Red Murff, the scout who signed me for the Mets, is here with us today. And I am proud to say that Red is a friend and that Red took more of an interest in me at an early age and when he saw me at 6-2 and 140, wasn't discouraged by my build and by the way I threw the baseball as many other scouts were. And I appreciate the fact that Red spent so much time with me and worked to help me become a better pitcher. Thank you, Red."

"When I went to the New York Mets, I first got there at 19 and I was overwhelmed by being there and truly intimidate. And then when I went to stay in 1968, I can honestly say that I was not focused on my career and on what it took to be a major league pitcher and to be a starting pitcher. But I had the opportunity to be a teammate of Tom Seaver's for four years and got the opportunity to see how Tom conducted himself in a professional attitude and his dedication to his job as a pitcher. He looked at baseball as a career, not just as an opportunity for a short period of time. So I truly paid attention to Tom and I feel like Tom affected my career and I appreciate the influence, Tom, that you had on my career. Jerry Grote is in the audience today, and Jerry was a roommate of mine for four years, or I was his roommate for four years, and I appreciate Jerry and the job he did as my catcher."

"When I got traded to the California Angels, I really wasn't that excited about going to the Angels because it meant changing leagues and also a whole new set of teammates. But shortly after I got there, I realized that was one of the best things that ever happened to me. I like to refer to my years with the Angels as the foundation of my career. And while I was there, I had the opportunity to develop friendships with three very unique people. I still think that Gene Autry is the best owner that I ever played for and I am proud to be able to say that Gene and I were friends. Gene loved the game of baseball and every player that played for Gene truly admired him. He would come into the clubhouse, he would sit down and visit with you. If you could get him to tell stories about making movies and going to the rodeos and the things that he did, before long he would turn around and the whole team would be gathered around him because that is how they felt about him."

"Also, when I went to the Angels, Tom Morgan was the pitching coach. And Tom Morgan took Nolan Ryan on as a special project. I really appreciated the effort that Tom gave me and the fact that he wasn't going to allow me to stumble and fall. If Tom were here today, I would walk up to him and tell him that that was one of the best things that ever happened to me. And then we had Jimmie Reese, a really close friend of mine, who I am proud to say that we named our second son, Reese, after because that is how much he meant to us. And we spent a lot of time in those days on the road and I really feel like he helped me as far as my conditioning program because of the hours and hours that I would spend with him chasing fungos and having him hit me ground balls. I can't honestly say that he improved me as fielder, but I was in better shape. Also, Jeff Torborg is here today. He caught my first no-hitter. Jeff, I appreciate it. Our years with the Angels were great and I truly enjoyed you as a friend."

"When I went to Houston as a free agent, I really felt like those years in Houston had a stabilizing effect on my career and my family. It gave us the opportunity to live in Texas for nine years at home where the kids did not have to be uprooted from one school to the next and have two households. So I truly am thankful for John McMullen for giving me an opportunity to play for the Houston Astros for nine years. And when I went to Houston, they had a conditioning coach by the name of Gene Coleman and that was the first time that I went to an organization that had a program with a weight room designed specifically for pitchers. I feel like through Gene Coleman I learned more about conditioning and helped learn about the aging process and how you can slow it down and I feel like that is how I was able to pitch as long as I did. I also had a special friend that participated in that ownership by the name of Don Sanders. And Don, I appreciate your friendship. You played a role not only with myself but many of the Astros and the Astros' families by making it enjoyable and fun to be a Houston Astro. And so many of us would take our children on the roadtrips and Don would always be there with his children and we would find fun things to do and made tough situations much better for us and our families. Don, I appreciate that."

"When I went to the Texas Rangers as a free agent, I went with the intent to stay one year and finish my career there. And I stayed five. The reason I stayed five is because of the Texas Rangers. I've never enjoyed an organization more than the staff and the ownership there. I appreciate all that they have done for me. I appreciate Eddie Chiles giving Mike Stone, Tom Grieve and Bobby Valentine the ability to sign me in Atlanta that day. And I remember walking off the airplane in Houston coming home from Atlanta and it probably being the lowest day in my career. And I am a believer that you take a negative and turn it into a positive, and as it turned out, it was one of the best things that ever happened to me. And so I do appreciate the Rangers staff and the Rangers organization for giving me that opportunity. And while I was there, I was very fortunate to have a pitching coach by the name of Tom House. And Tom and I are the same age and Tom is a coach that is always on the cutting edge and I really enjoyed our association together. He would always come up with new training techniques that we would try and see how they would work into my routine. And because of our friendship and Tom pushing me, I think that I got into the best shape of my life during the years that I was with the Rangers. And Tom, I really miss those days that we spent in the weight room and out on the field working together. And that last year that you weren't there, I can really say, buddy, that I missed you. Thank you for being here today."

"And there's other people that I came in contact with in my life and my baseball career that necessarily weren't on the field in uniform. Dick Moss, my agent - Dick became my agent in 1979 when I signed my contract with the Houston Astros. And Dick, I appreciated the job that you done for me watching out for my best interest and I truly felt that I was represented by the best. Thank you. And then there was Matt Merola who has handled all my commercial endorsements since 1972. And Matt has always been very protective of me and made sure that during my playing career, what we had to do off the field did not interefer with what I had to do on the field. I appreciate that and I think that the people that we worked with did too, so thank you, Matt."

"Also, I would like to thank somebody that definitely has had an impact on myself and my fmaily and many ballplayers sitting in this audience today and that was Marvin Miller. I came into the game when I broke into the major leagues ad the minimum salary was $7,000 and I had to go home in the winter time and get a job. And the first year that I was in the big leagues, the job I had was at a service station pumping gas from 3:00 - 9:00pm and closing the service staiton so Ruth and I could live through the winter until baseball season started. She worked in a bookstore at the college. And because of Marvin's efforts and the people in baseball, we brought that level up to where the players weren't put in that situation. Marvin, I appreciate the job that you have done and the impact that it's had on my family. Thank you."

"There are a lot of my teammates here today and I appreciate them being here and making the effort to be here. And when I see each and every one of you, I alwaysremember something that happened during our careers together, and I do appreciate you all being there and the support that you gave me during those years."

"Last but not least are the fans. I feel very fortunate that I played with the four organizations that I did. I played on both coasts and I got the opportunity to stay in Texas for 14 years. And I can say that I was truly blessed by the fans and the support that they gave me and I do appreciate that. What makes this a great game is the support and the commitment that the fans give the game. And I may be gone, but I won't forget you. And I appreciate all those times that you supported me and my family over the 27 years that I played."

"Thank you."

Back to the Express Tribute Page