CLEARWATER, Fla. – The two ex-Rangers in the Phillies’ clubhouse, third baseman Michael Young and reliever Mike Adams, aren’t privy to the political maneuverings within their former team’s front office.
All Young and Adams know is this: If Nolan Ryan resigns as chief executive officer, as one published report recently suggested, the team’s fans will be upset.
“I have no idea the ins and outs – that’s obviously Rangers business,” Young said Thursday morning. “But after 12 years there, I have a pretty good understanding of what the fans like. When it comes to all things Rangers, Nolan is at the top of the list of everything that fans like.”
Adams, a native Texan, agreed.
“Nolan is a legend -- a Texas legend, and not just Texas baseball, but the state of Texas,” Adams said. “(They would) lose almost face of the franchise, really. He hasn’t played (since 1993) and he’s still pretty much the face of the franchise. If it’s personal reasons, that’s a totally different story. But if he’s pushed out, I think it’s going to be perceived badly.”
The departure of Ryan almost certainly would not affect attendance – as Adams put it, “the fans ain’t going to stop going because Nolan is not with the organization. Still, the fans aren’t the only ones who would miss Ryan.
The Rangers’ players would, too.
“He was around a lot in spring training. He went to pretty much every game,” Young said. “He’d be in the dugout. You’d bump into him and say hello. He was always available if you’d want to talk baseball, which is what baseball players do.
“In spring training, we’d sit in the kitchen, Nolan would come in and tell stories of when (Robin) Ventura charged him and Bo (Jackson) pulled him out of the pile when he was about to black out. It was always great to talk to a Hall of Famer, bounce ideas off him, let him do the same to you.”
Young said that Ryan served as a particularly valuable sounding board for him during the 2010-11 offseason, when Young asked for a trade during a dispute with general manager Jon Daniels, saying he had been “misled and manipulated.”
Ryan and Daniels had said that Young “changed his mind” about his willingness to become a DH and super-utility player after the team’s signing of free-agent third baseman Adrian Beltre. Young took exception to those remarks, and a visit from Ryan helped clear the air.
“He came to my house two nights before I was going to drive to spring training. He heard me out, heard what my concerns were,” Young recalled.
“The reason it was helpful is because at that point Nolan understood that it had nothing to do with baseball. I had already agreed to my role. But there was a lot of stuff that had happened behind the scenes that led to it going south. It was good to be heard out, simple as that. And I appreciated it.”
Adams’ relationship with Ryan was different. He grew up in Sinton, Texas, and attended Texas A&M-Kingsville. Ryan was his hero, and Adams, during his time with the Rangers, found it difficult to even approach him.
“It was one of those, 'He’s Nolan Ryan. You don’t want to bother him too much,'” Adams said. “I was a Texas kid also. He was my pitching idol when I was growing up.
“I was more in awe than anything whenever I was around him. It was huge for me, him being there, being part of the organization, just to say I know Nolan, and count him as a friend.
“I still get Christmas cards from him. It’s kind of cool.”