Wendel: When Nolan Ryan turned the corner

From SABR member Tim Wendel at The National Pastime Museum on June 4, 2015:

When Nolan Ryan was traded from the New York Mets to California after the 1971 season, Angels General Manager Harry Dalton reached out to the struggling pitcher.

“You can be a big star with California, and we’re going to give you every chance to be one,” Dalton said. “Here you will get a chance to pitch.”

Unable to land a regular turn in the Mets’ rotation, that was sweet music to Ryan’s ears. The imposing right-hander soon headed west to the Angels’ spring training camp in Holtville, California. Although the ball club was excited to have him on board, somebody forgot to tell Coach Jimmie Reese to go easy on the newcomer.

The first day, Reese ordered Ryan to take infield practice and started peppering ground balls at him. This went on for a good 20 minutes, with Reese hitting them to Ryan’s left and right, until the pitcher was ready to keel over.

“One more ground ball would have done it,” Ryan remembers. “I was about spent.”

Read the full article here: http://www.thenationalpastimemuseum.com/article/ryan-turns-corner

Originally published: June 4, 2015. Last Updated: June 4, 2015.