Nolan Ryan: The Making of a Pitcher, Book Review


Nolan Ryan: The Making of a Pitcher by Rob Goldman

As a Texas Rangers fan I tend to have selective memory when it comes to Nolan Ryan. For example, I remember him as one of the most feared pitchers in a Rangers uniform, and I have images of Ryan in a Houston Astros uniform seared into my mind that I wish I could forget.

On the other hand, I can barely remember seeing any photographs of Nolan Ryan in a Los Angeles Angels or a New York Mets uniform. Yes, our beloved Nolan Ryan did play for other teams not located in Texas.

I recently read Nolan Ryan: The Making of a Pitcher, by Rob Goldman, and realized there is much about the living legend most Texas Rangers fans do not know.


Nolan Ryan: The Making of a Pitcher takes you for a ride on “The Ryan Express,” just not the one he’s known for. It gives you insight on Ryan’s milestones, a lessons learned, or a life event that helped mold Nolan Ryan to be one of the greats.

Author, Rob Goldman, provides tidbits and stories that help explain what Ryan’s life was like off the field, which in essence contributed to Nolan the pitcher as well. For example, Nolan Ryan had made up his mind to quit baseball (several times), but his best friend, the love of his life Ruth, was always there for him.

Although Nolan Ryan loved baseball, he excelled in basketball, too. But, in high school it became clear that Ryan had raw, natural talent. And, when Nolan Ryan was signed it was because he was known to throw hard, not necessarily accurate.

Goldman’s book weaves in and out of both Ryan the big league pitcher and Nolan Ryan the family man. And in the end what you get is Nolan Ryan the pitcher.

Both versions of Nolan Ryan couldn’t be more different, yet so alike in their roles, on and off the field. The author uses interviews with former teammates, as well as those that stood across from him in the batter’s box to show how beloved and respected Ryan is.

When I think of Nolan Ryan, I remember how aggressive he was on the mound, and always presumed people feared him when he was not pitching. However, the book provides unique stories of Ryan actually being “shy and nervous,” which is something I never thought would describe Ryan.

Goldman also draws from his own real-life experiences he had with Nolan Ryan, that began when he was a batboy for the Angels.

I recommend that anyone who would like to know more about Nolan Ryan, or has an affinity for Nolan Ryan, as well as baseball history read Nolan Ryan: The Making of a Pitcher.