Hear Nadel, Holtz call Ryan no-hitters Nos. 6, 7
ARLINGTON -- Rangers broadcasters Eric Nadel and the late Mark Holtz can be heard again together on the radio for two nights this week.
The Rangers' most honored broadcast team will be featured when SiriusXM presents the rebroadcast of Nolan Ryan’s sixth and seventh no-hitters. No. 6 took place on June 11, 1990, against the Athletics. It can be heard at 7 p.m. CT Tuesday on Sirius Ch. 209 and XM Ch. 89.
Ryan's seventh no-hitter was thrown against the Blue Jays and occurred May 1, 1991. It can be heard at 7 p.m. Wednesday on the two MLB Network satellite channels. The games are part of Sirius XM’s Classic Voices, Classic Games series.
Holtz and Nadel certainly qualify as classic voices. They were paired together in 1982 when Holtz was made lead radio announcer and Nadel became his partner. It was an era long before baseball was saturated on television, when radio was the primary broadcasting outlet for fans listening across Texas and beyond on the clear channel WBAP 820.
The Rangers have had many great broadcasters but the Holtz-Nadel team -- together for 13 years -- still resonates deeply with their fans all these years later. Both are in the Rangers' and Texas Baseball Halls of Fame.
“They were both really good,” former Rangers president Tom Schieffer said. “They did their homework, loved baseball and couldn't wait to get to the ballpark every day. Most of all, you could hear in their voices how much fun they were having doing the games. They had a wonderful way of making you feel like they were friends who had stopped by your house to take you to a ballgame.”
The no-hitters were classics. Ryan signed with the Rangers on Dec. 7, 1988, at the age of 41. He was in the twilight of his career but was outstanding in '89, going 16-10 with a 3.20 ERA and 301 strikeouts.
There were also several close calls for a no-hitter, including two that were broken up in the ninth. Even at that age, fans still tuned in to Ryan’s starts knowing there was a possibility of a no-hitter.
One Night in Oakland
That said, even the most optimistic fan was not expecting a no-hitter on the night of June 11, 1990, when Ryan took the mound in Oakland to face the defending World Series champion Athletics.
Ryan had won his first four starts of the season, but he struggled through May before going on the injured list with an ailing back. He returned June 6 and allowed five runs in five innings during the Rangers' 5-4 loss to the Athletics in Arlington.
Nadel was the one who helped provide Ryan with some relief.
“After his poor start against the A's in Texas, the Rangers flew to Anaheim for a series against the Angels,” Nadel remembered. “I have a problematic back too, and in Anaheim I had a massage therapist, Joe Medico, who regularly worked on aging rock stars like Cher, Bruce Springsteen and Mick Jagger.
“I mentioned to Nolan that Joe would be working on me at our hotel and asked if he wanted Joe to try to loosen him up. Nolan was all for it, so Joe spent about 90 minutes in Nolan's room the day we got there. When I got to the ballpark that night, Nolan told me he had never had a massage therapist work magic the way Joe did.”
Ryan certainly looked different against the Athletics on a cool Tuesday evening at the Coliseum.
“It was clear early that the real Nolan was back, as he struck out three of the first four batters,” Nadel said. “Julio Franco hit a couple of home runs early and Nolan had a rare cushion to work with. I remember looking into the dugout as the tension built, and his son Reese was the only person talking to Nolan.”
Reese, 14 at the time, provided another valuable service that night. Between innings, he sat on the bench and rubbed his father’s back to keep it loose.
“In the ninth inning, I went down to the photographers’ area alongside the Rangers dugout to prepare for the postgame interview,” Nadel said. “With one out in the ninth inning, Rickey Henderson hit a weak roller toward short, and I thought he would beat it out. But Jeff Huson charged and bare-handed the ball and threw Rickey out by a step.”
Willie Randolph followed with a fly ball down the right-field line and Ruben Sierra was there for the final out.
“When he did, the ecstasy that exploded on the field and in the Rangers dugout was unlike anything I had ever experienced,” Nadel said. “Given Nolan's recent troubles and the near misses in previous no-hit bids, I think everyone on the Rangers' side of the field was overjoyed that he had finally finished out the no-hitter.”
The final total was two walks and 14 strikeouts, and the no-hitter came nine years after No. 5 while with the Astros.
“I was concerned with my back problems, and I said, ‘I’ll just go seven innings,’” Ryan said a few years later. “Then I got through seven and decided, 'I’m not going to give into it because I just need six more outs.' That no-hitter came so late in my career; made it very special.”
Arlington Appreciation Night
The Rangers came up with Arlington Appreciation Night to pay tribute to the city that had been supporting them. So, there were 33,349 fans at Arlington Stadium on May 1, 1991, to watch Ryan pitch. The Blue Jays were a tough opponent, winning the American League East that season and the World Series in 1992-93.
“Nolan's seventh no-hitter was the most overpowering pitching performance I have ever seen,” Nadel said. “Nolan quickly demonstrated he had all three of his pitches working. After he struck out the side in the second, I said that he clearly has no-hit stuff, and we may be watching something special.”
The only “close call” came in the sixth when AL Gold Glove Award-winning center fielder Gary Pettis had to make a running catch on Manny Lee’s shallow blooper. Ryan ended the game by striking out future fellow Hall of Famer Roberto Alomar.
“That was special because it came at home,” Ryan said. “The fans in Arlington always treated me great, so to throw a no-hitter for them was a special feeling, one of the highlights of my career.”
There was only one drawback for Nadel.
“That was my need to be alongside the dugout in the ninth inning to get ready to grab Nolan for an interview as soon as possible after the game,” Nadel said. “As a result, I didn't get to hear Mark's ninth-inning calls until much later.
Holtzie was the very best at capturing the feel of those very special moments, and I regret not hearing those calls live.”
Rangers fans will be able to relive them Tuesday and Wednesday on SiriusXM.