Angels fans, if you haven't already, you need to pick up a copy of Nolan Ryan - The Making of a Pitcher, written by our very own Rob Goldman, brought to you by Triumph Books.
Pick up this amazing book here!
Bill Ames from Triumph Books sent a digital copy of the book to me so that we could share an excerpt of one of the chapters with you all.
Below is an excerpt I chose from Chapter IV titled: The Altar of Speed: The California Angels: 1972–79.
Afterward, he wondered if the struggle was really worth it. If he couldn't crack the starting staff on a rebuilding club like the Angels, what chance would he have anywhere else?
There’d be no extra running with Jimmie Reese that day—Ryan just wanted to get out of there. He dressed, slipped out the back door, and headed for his car. Almost instantly a horde of young autograph hounds surrounded him and thrust their pens and scraps of paper at him. He signed until reaching the safety of his car, an ancient VW bug with a cracked windshield, a loaner from a friend of Mary Lou’s.
The drive to Anaheim was 90 miles. “I always admired him for doing the commute,” says Ruth. “He didn’t have to, but the Angels wouldn’t allow players’ wives and children at the team’s hotel. He felt that spring training would be the only time he could see his son at night.”
Near Banning on Interstate 10, Ryan flipped on KLAC, Los Angeles’ only country music station. But static garbled the reception. Somewhere near Beaumont, the signal improved and the lush baritone of Merle Haggard’s “Carolyn” flowed through the Bug’s little speaker. Cramming his big legs against the wheel, Ryan felt like a sardine. To keep his mind fresh, he reviewed the day’s game and the pitches he threw—the curveball to McCovey, the fastball to Mays.
Why can’t I pitch two good games in a row? Why does everything go smooth when I work in the bullpen, but when I get into the actual games it all falls apart?
Nearing Riverside, he reviewed his mechanics yet again—his motion and leg kick, his release and follow-through.
Passing Corona, Donna Fargo started singing “I’m the Happiest Girl in the Whole USA.” Tammy Wynette followed with a soothing “Bedtime Story.” But it didn’t help.
The sign ahead said Yorba Linda, and the increased traffic flow told him he was close to home. Within the hour he’d be back to Ruth and Reid and a few precious hours of domestic bliss. Then in the morning, back to the grind.
Though he was discouraged, changes were occurring in his delivery that looked promising. Despite the inconsistencies, Morgan was able to get him into a rhythm he’d never felt before.
NOLAN RYAN: THE MAKING OF A PITCHER