Nolan Ryan holds 51 baseball records, tossed seven no-hitters and his 5,714 career strikeouts may make him the king for eternity, so he finds it rather humorous that he’ll always be remembered for the night of Aug. 4, 1993.
It was the game that Ryan hit Chicago White Sox third baseman Robin Ventura with the first pitch in his second at-bat. Ventura, 26, charged the mound towards Ryan, who was 46.
Ventura never got a punch in while Ryan grabbed him in a headlock, pounded his head with noogies, went back to the mound – bloody mouth and all – and beat the White Sox.
“I’m just amazed that of all of the things that happened in my career,” Ryan said, “I’m still known for that. And people still remember it. I really didn’t think much about it, and I doubt Robin did either, at the time.
“I remember when he got the White Sox (managerial) job, and the first game he managed was in Arlington. I congratulated him 30 minutes before the game and told him, ‘Robin, I’m really sorry this thing took on a life of its own.’ I don’t have any animosity, and he didn’t either.
“But it’s amazing, to this day when I’m talking to people, speaking to groups, that question about Robin always comes up.”
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Ryan is the focus of a documentary, “Facing Nolan,” coming to theaters for a one-day-only showing on May 24.
The documentary examines his career mostly from the point of view of players who faced him: Hall of Famers Cal Ripken Jr., George Brett, Rod Carew, Dave Winfield and Pudge Rodriguez, along with the likes of pitchers Randy Johnson and Roger Clemens, and all-time hits leader Pete Rose.
Ryan was approached years ago about doing the documentary but always resisted, finally giving up with his family, particularly his wife of 55 years, Ruth, convincing him it would be a film that could accurately portray his legacy, a gift for the entire Ryan family.
“I really had no interest in doing it,” Ryan said, laughing, “but they finally caught me in a weak moment, I guess.”
For subscribers: Check out USA TODAY Sports’ full interview with Nolan Ryan.