Reporting Nate Griffin
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HOUSTON (CBS-Houston) – The new President of the Houston Astros needs no real introduction as the last name rings a big bell to baseball fans everywhere. Reid Ryan, son of Hall of Fame pitching legend and Texas Rangers CEO, Nolan Ryan, was named the new President of the Houston Astros on Friday.
“Coming in here today, there’s a lot of pride,” says Reid Ryan. “I’ve had a lot of emotion. When you grow up in Alvin, (Texas), and you spend your years around the Dome, (Astrodome), and so many great guys you know whether it’s Craig (Biggio), or Enos (Cabell), or Jose Cruz, or Alan Ashby or just Terry Puhl, Craig Reynolds – all the folks we’ve known over the years.”
“It’s a great plus for us,” says Astros owner, Jim Crane. “I think it’s going to turn out great, and I know he’ll do a good job. He did a great job at those other two organizations – and, when you look at rolling in Corpus, that’s a big deal for us because we’d like to continue to control our affiliate.”
DOUBLE BONUS POINTS FOR RYAN FAMILY
Speaking of Corpus, the younger Ryan was the President and CEO of the Double-A Corpus Christi Hooks and Triple-A Round Rock Express. Both of these organizations were owned by Nolan Ryan and Houston businessman, Don Sanders.
We say “were owned”, because the Astros also announced on Friday that an agreement has been reached with Ryan and Sanders to purchase the Corpus Christi club. There’s no question that today’s combination of announcements were beautiful music to the ears of one Nolan Ryan, especially in regards to his son, Reid.
“We really feel like Reid’s coming in at a time when a lot of good things are going to happen,” says baseball’s all-time strikeout leader. “And so, it’s a good exciting time, I think, to join the organization.”
It’s also a good time to mention that father and son will compete against each other, maybe not now, but possibly in the future. The Rangers sit atop the American League West while the Astros are looking to ascend from their current cellar position. The younger Ryan doesn’t feel awkward being in a competitive situation with Dad.
“When the game starts and you cross the white lines, everybody wants to beat the guy across the field. But you keep those relationships. And so, with him being up in Arlington, you know what, we’re going to do the best we can here to put a winner on the field and when the game starts, we’re going to try to win, we’re going to try to do everything in our power.”
“But, when the game is over, he’s going to be my dad and I’m going to be his son and that won’t change.”
He’s right – nothing should change – except what happens on the field. With a record of 11-30, the Astros have the worst record in the American League. Ryan says he won’t be the only one working to turn the record around. He will have help.
“This organization has so many great former players that care about it and I feel like I can help. I feel like I can help this team.”
One other Hall of Famer utters those same sentiments. That would be future Hall of Famer and former Astro, Craig Biggio, who was in attendance during Friday’s big announcements.
“In order to get better, all I know is that the more good people you have surrounding yourself with, in any organization, you’re going to be better. Today is a huge day and a step in the right direction.”
REPAIR IS NEEDED QUICKLY
Between the controversies surrounding the cancellation of the Astro’s Wives Gala, the unresolved CSN-Astros-Rockets telecasts issues, and the resignation of former CEO George Postolos, the Astros are in need of immediate public relations repair.
Hiring Ryan was definitely a move in the right direction for owner Jim Crane who has come under fire, fair or unfair. He knows the public relations turnaround, as it currently stands, will be one of the major keys to the organization’s success.
“We’ll focus on three things. Following right behind MLB which is youth baseball and getting kids playing in the inner-city. We’ll focus on the military, and we’ll focus on cancer.”
The key to minimizing additional damage will be how quickly the organization begins focusing on Cranes’ three items of PR concentration. One thing is for sure – Crane doesn’t ponder making decisions – as demonstrated by the quick hire of Reid Ryan.
“About 30 days ago, we started talking that someday he wanted to be in the organization or an organization – a big league organization. I said, well, with his experience level we should talk about that at some time with George stepping down. I’m in the overnight business. So, I put the petal on the accelerator and he’s here Friday,” (today).
“So, there was some framework there for a little while. But, then when we talked about working him in at some point, we just accelerated that.”
Crane wasn’t the only party to the agreement who made an accelerated decision. So did Reid.
“It took me about a day to really sort of say, can I do this and is it the right fit. When we looked at it, my Wife and I determined it was.”
MUST GET BETTER ON THE FIELD
Tied with Miami for the worst record in the majors, the product on the field needs improvement. But, Reid and the Astros know moving the needle will take time. They also know patience is needed.
“We got to put the fans first in everything we do” says Ryan. “And then we got to make sure that we’re taking care of the players because it’s all about the players. If you don’t have the players, you’re really not going to have anything.”
Ryan will work closely with General Manager Jeff Luhnow to insure the success of the on-the-field product, good public relations, and a positive fan experience – all of which require unwavering support from Crane.
“It’s really a symbiotic relationship, says Luhnow. “We both need to help each other. Jim understands that and Jim’s going to facilitate the environment supporting both of us so it happens.”
If Reid Ryan continues in the path of his CEO Dad, the environment could change within a reasonable amount of time for all concerned. And with the name Ryan now connected, it would be tremendous for all of Houston and surrounding areas to watch them electronically from home – even as they go through this painful growth period.