"As a pitcher and a Texan, Nolan Ryan always had fire in his belly. Now, as the 63-year-old president of the Texas Rangers, Ryan has an ample belly to go with it.
On Friday night, standing on a platform atop a field covered with red, white and blue confetti, Ryan hugged something shiny, new and coveted to that belly, the American League championship trophy. He received it from Jackie Autry, the widow of Gene Autry, who owned the California Angels during Ryan’s eight seasons with the team.
The red-clad capacity crowd of 51,404 roared as Ryan raised the trophy over his head. He did not cry as he gazed into the stands at Rangers Ballpark, watching fans celebrate the first pennant in the franchise’s 50 years. But no one would have blamed him if he had.
In 27 seasons as the greatest strikeout pitcher in major league history, Ryan played in one World Series, as a smooth-cheeked 22-year-old with the Mets against Baltimore in 1969. He appeared only once, in Game 3, working two and a third scoreless innings in relief of Gary Gentry for a save in a 5-0 victory most remembered by Mets fans for Tommie Agee’s two great catches."
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