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2011-08-18 digital edition

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2011-08-18 / General Stories

Nolan Ryan River Ranch

By Gene Hall

You see him in the owner’s box of Rangers Ballpark in Arlington, where as part owner, president and CEO of the pennant-contending Texas Rangers, Nolan Ryan guides the operations of the team. Perhaps you’ve seen film and video clips of the unmatched seven nohitters or Robin Ventura’s ill-advised sprint to the mound after being hit by a Ryan fastball.

Last Wednesday, I got to see another side of the Hall of Fame pitcher and baseball executive. Nolan is a rancher—a serious cattleman. It’s not a hobby for him. It’s a business—one that is expected to stand on its own.

In fact, it was recently announced that Nolan will join the ranks of a legendary group of cattle leaders as this year’s Golden Spur Award recipient, presented by the Ranching Heritage Center on the Texas Tech campus in Lubbock.

My team here at Texas Farm Bureau is honored to produce the video that goes along with that award. You can look for it on YouTube or on the Texas Farm Bureau website around the end of September. That’s why we were visiting the Nolan Ryan River Ranch.

Nolan is a Farm Bureau member and I’ve known him about 20 years, working with him on various projects. This is something that would have never happened if not for this wonderful career I’ve had. People sometimes ask me if Nolan is what he appears to be— a decent man who’s had remarkable success in multiple endeavors, yet a man who genuinely likes and enjoys people. The answer is an unequivocal yes.

As a fan and student of baseball, I know there was never a more intense competitor than Nolan Ryan. Yet, he has enormous respect for the game and especially, the fans.

He brought these qualities with him into the cattle business, dealing fairly with people and as he says in the baseball language he often uses, “We’re just trying to get better every day.” Seems that works with ranching as well as baseball.

Nolan is receiving the Golden Spur, in part because of his willingness to use his influence to better the ranching industry. He has served on the board of the Texas Beef Council, the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission and in other roles. He traveled to Japan to convince that baseball and beef loving nation to purchase more Texas beef. He speaks out on agricultural issues, supports research and promotion efforts, and works to improve the industry for all his ranching brethren.

Back in 1990, he was once asked to run for Texas Commissioner of Agriculture. He was a well-respected rancher even then. But— as Rangers fans like me would soon learn—there were more than 900 strikeouts and two more nohitters left in that amazing right arm as he ran the total up to one of baseball’s most unbreakable records: 5,714 strikeouts. But what a terrific Ag Commissioner he would have been!

I’ve interviewed Nolan about a dozen times on various video projects. A word he uses often is passion. He believes it is the essential ingredient for success. The world knows the results of his passion for baseball. The world will hear more of his passion for ranching, the cattle business and agriculture.

Courtesy of Texas Ag Talks

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