Nolan Ryan’s son and the F-word

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In his 27-year major-league career, Nolan Ryan regularly fired 100-mph fastballs. He pitched seven no-hitters and struck out 5,714 batters — both records.

Now the CEO of my beloved Texas Rangers, the 66-year-old “Ryan Express” is a baseball legend — a Hall of Fame right-hander who needs no introduction to fans.

Nolan’s son Reid Ryan, 41, is a different story.

Except for his famous father, the younger Ryan remains relatively unknown. However, the Houston Astros hired him as team president in May, increasing his profile in the Lone Star State.

Enter The Dallas Morning News.

Over the weekend, the Dallas newspaper ran an in-depth, “what makes him tick” feature on Reid Ryan.

Unfortunately for non-subscribers, most of the 1,700-word profile is hidden behind a paywall. Fortunately for you, kind GetReligion readers who so much enjoy posts on sports stories, I am a subscriber and read the whole ghost-ridden thing.

Since I pay $9.99 a month mainly to peruse the Morning News’ behind-the-scenes Rangers coverage, I was enjoying the story as a baseball fan when the first holy ghost caused my GetReligion antenna to rise.

Early in the piece, the writer eloquently describes the major turning point in Reid Ryan’s life. It occurred when he was 7 years old and was hit by a car. Let’s enter that scene:

At the hospital, the doctors had no trouble diagnosing Reid’s shattered left leg.

After the surgeons carved him open to check for internal injuries, they removed his severed spleen. When the pain lingered into the next week, they opened him up again and removed a damaged kidney they had hoped to save.

Then came the body cast.

It was sometime during his confining next two months in the hospital that Reid, described by his mother as previously “vivacious” but turned eerily “subdued,” took a silent oath.

“God blessed me with a second chance,” Reid Ryan says 34 years later. “That time shaped how I look at the world. I decided that no matter how many more years I had on this earth, I was going to be extremely positive in everything I do.”

Let’s see: The money quote that describes the most significant event in Reid Ryan’s life involves G-O-D.

Did anyone at the Morning News catch that reference or consider delving more deeply into the role of Ryan’s faith? Apparently not, because the story immediately heads in a totally different direction using a, shall we say, ironic description given the ghost just mentioned:

To watch Reid Ryan work the concourse at Minute Maid Park, home of his Astros, is akin to studying an evangelist working a revival. A little more than one month on the job, charged with rehabilitating a moribund franchise not shy about losing games and alienating fans, Reid acts like a one-man welcoming committee.

Later in the piece, more vague references to Reid Ryan’s faith appear:

At TCU, the right-handed pitcher honed his skills with the help of his father who plied his trade for the Rangers until 1993 in nearby Arlington. He also found his future wife, Nicole Perdue, on campus. She was a point guard on the Lady Frogs basketball team. Her father was on the faculty of TCU’s Brite Divinity School.

As much as the freshman basketball player didn’t want to get involved with the senior baseball player, Nicole was attracted to his “compassion, energy, faith and positive outlook.”

And the final ghost:

The same year Reid Ryan, 28, shepherded the birth of the Express, Nicole gave birth to their son Jackson, whose brain was deprived of oxygen during birth.

“We were hoping he would make it a week,” Ruth Ryan said of her first grandson.

“Everyone was crying,” she said. “Reid took control. He said, ‘Don’t worry, all we have to do is love Jackson and God will take care of the rest.’”

“Reid said we should experience every day of Jackson’s life as a gift,” Nicole remembered. “Reid is a man of faith. He comes by it through experience.”

A man of faith? What does that mean as it relates to Reid Ryan? I wish I could tell you, but even without the paywall, you’d have no clue after reading this haunted story.

It’s becoming clear that the Morning News has no regard for the F-word.

About Bobby Ross Jr.

Bobby Ross Jr. is an award-winning reporter and editor with a quarter-century of professional experience. A former religion editor for The Oklahoman and religion writer for The Associated Press, Ross serves as chief correspondent for the The Christian Chronicle. He has reported from 47 states and 11 countries and was honored as the Religion Newswriters Association's 2013 Magazine Reporter of the Year.

  • Sari

    Bobby,

    What’s there says he’s religious, had a religious experience at an early age, and that he’s a Christian. It’s enough. We don’t need to know what church he joined, his theological views, or hear him witness in the name of C. These are really outside the scope of the article. We should not expect the media to facilitate spreading any religion’s message.

    • bullschuck

      Sari, I could not disagree more. If his Faith is that much a part of his life,
      shouldn’t we get the opportunity to know what that Faith is?

      Let’s
      put it in baseball terms. Say that he was still pitching, and that he
      had become successful because of a certain pitch, and the article talks
      about him learning the pitch at a young age, taking time to craft it,
      learning more from coaches and his own father, but never identified what
      the pitch was or how it affects his career. Wouldn’t you be left hanging? That’s what’s happened in
      this story. A vital, compelling aspect of his life is hinted at but never explained.

      Growing up in Texas, we probably fill in the gaps
      with a specific denomination, or perhaps no denomination. But from the
      descriptions quoted, we don’t even know if that faith is Christian.

      • http://getreligion.org/ Bobby Ross Jr.

        ***A vital, compelling aspect of his life is hinted at but never explained.***

        Exactly.

        Thanks, bullschuck.

        • Sari

          Christianity is the default in this culture, as are white, straight and male. Were he anything but Christian, further explanation should/would have been provided. Either the reporter used his/her own Christian phraseology to explain Ryan’s faith or Ryan’s words spoke for themselves.

          In answer to bullchuck’s question, pitching and faith are not equivalent. One can be quantified to a very large extent– so many of one sort of pitch vs. so many strike-outs, velocity, momentum, the physics, etc. The other cannot. What Ryan attributes to faith could just as easily be attributed to upbringing, genes, or a positive attitude, none of which are quantifiable.

          All of which brings me back to the perceived need to have Christians testify in secular media. When discussion here centered on Tim Tebow’s and Robert Kraft, *no one* was interested in how Judaism shaped Kraft’s remarks or influenced his actions. That’s a double standard which should be examined.

          • http://getreligion.org/ Bobby Ross Jr.

            Sari,

            Are we still taking about journalism? Certainly, you are entitled to your personal opinions about Christians in culture. But from a journalistic perspective, you are simply wrong. The story is incomplete without answering key questions raised by Reid Ryan’s faith.

          • Sari

            Then you need to apply the same standards to ALL religions, Bobby, not just the one to which you subscribe.

          • John Pack Lambert

            It is not reasonable to assume Christianity with no evidence. Assuming is a very bad way to deal with these things. If they do not say what a person’s religion is, we should not assume it.

          • Richard Mounts

            Sari,

            I must be missing something you see. Where, at any place in the post or comments, do you read anything that Bobby Ross has written to make you believe that he disagrees with you?

            I don’t find it, and since he is part of the GR team I can only imagine that he does agree with you.

          • bullschuck

            I originally wrote: If there’s a story on how Judaism shaped Kraft’s remarks about Tim Tebow, or influenced him acquiring him, then I completely agree. If there’s a religious aspect to that story, then it deserves to be explored. But that doesn’t give the DMN a free pass on this.

            But after going out and Googling it, nah. There is a quick interview with Robert Kraft gushing about Tim Tebow. That’s not in the same league as an in-depth character bio. If there were similar article written about Mr. Kraft, and religion was a strong influence on who he is today, then it would need to be explored similarly, without vague references to a “strong family upbringing” or “faith and moral values.”

          • Sari

            Here’s the thread at GR

            http://www.patheos.com/blogs/getreligion/2013/06/on-tebow-spirituality-and-stating-the-obvious/#more-106781

            Some of the articles made passing reference to Kraft’s religion, but tmatt’s big issue was why media did not expand on Kraft’s use of the word spirituality rather than Christian or Christianity. At the same time, there was no curiosity as to *why* Kraft would care or why Tebow’s beliefs would have influenced his decision to recruit.

            This is not about my feelings towards any one religion but about imposing the same journalistic standards to all faiths.

    • http://getreligion.org/ Bobby Ross Jr.

      We do NOT know that he’s Christian. We have no clue about his religious affiliation, based on this story. That’s the problem. The story identifies faith as a major part of his life, then totally strikes out on providing any information about that aspect of his character.

  • tmatt

    Hey, at least he is not a Fundamentalist.

    • FW Ken

      How do we know? In Dallas, the most reasonable interpretation of the elements we have is Baptist, evangelical Methodist, or megachurch evangelical, but I’ve known Fundamentalists who talk that way,as well.

  • Matt Swaim

    I have more baseball cards of Nolan Ryan than of any other player.


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