Ryan announces retirement from Rangers' CEO post
Nolan Ryan, citing a desire to spend more time on his ranch and with his family, is stepping down as the chief executive officer of the Rangers, effective at the end of the month.
Ryan said he has been thinking about this for some time and the decision had nothing to do with any philosophical differences he had with President of Baseball Operations Jon Daniels.
"I feel my relationship with Jon is good and our relationship didn't come into play on this," Ryan said during a press conference at the Ballpark in Arlington attended by Rangers co-chairman Ray Davis and Bob Simpson.
The Rangers will not hire a new CEO to replace Ryan. Davis will assume the role of controlling owner as far as representing the Rangers with Major League Baseball and rotate the responsibility with Simpson. Rob Matwick, who was hired by Ryan as vice president for ballpark and event operations, will oversee the business operations while Daniels remains in charge of baseball operations.
"This closes a chapter of my life in baseball," Ryan said. "I feel like it's time for me to move on and do other things. This is a decision that has been weighing on me but I feel like it's the right decision."
The break from the Rangers is complete as Davis and Simpson have bought out Ryan's share in the ownership group. Both said they tried to talk Ryan into staying on in his current role.
"We're disappointed in the decision he's made, but we understand it and now we'll turn the page and wish him well for him and his family and wish the Rangers well as well," Davis said.
In a statement issued by Major League Baseball, Commissioner Bud Selig said: "On behalf of Major League Baseball, I thank Nolan for his service to the Texas Rangers since 2008, a successful era that has been most memorable to the club's fans. During times of significant change for the franchise, Nolan has been a constant -- accessible, dedicated and an icon to his fellow Texans who love our game.
"Nolan's unique perspective as a legendary player and an accomplished executive has been invaluable to the Rangers franchise. I am certain that Nolan will continue to be a great credit to Major League Baseball and an exemplary ambassador for the National Pastime in the state of Texas and beyond."
Simpson admitted there could be some backlash over the departure of one of the most popular players in club history who also oversaw a historic turnaround of the franchise during his six years.
"There will be be some backlash because of who the man is," Simpson said. "I would ask that it's not lasting. We'll work hard to continue to bring a quality product to the field that fans have become accustomed to. I think Nolan is still a fan of the Rangers himself, so we would ask that they look at this as a transition in life. A man makes a decision in life to go in another direction, not as a condemnation of the Rangers. It's understandable that some fans love the man and want to see him here."
Ryan's son Reid was hired by the Astros this past season as their president of business operations. But the elder Ryan said he doesn't expect to work for the Astros.
"That's not in my plans," Ryan said. "I plan on going home, getting back on my ranch, doing things I haven't done in the past six years and spending some time with my grand kids and family. I don't know where I will be a year from now but this may well be the final chapter of my baseball career."
In a statement released by the Astros, Reid Ryan shared his thoughts on the news.
"As his son, I am extremely proud of what he has accomplished as both a player and as a front office executive. He was an integral part of all three of the World Series appearances by Texas teams, in 2005 with the Astros and in 2010-11 with the Rangers. "He has always treated the game with dignity and respect and has appreciated those that make our game great: the fans, players and employees."
Ryan was hired by former owner Tom Hicks as club president on Feb. 6, 2008. He later joined with an ownership group put together by Chuck Greenberg and headed by Davis and Simpson that submitted the highest bid in a bankruptcy auction on Aug. 12, 2010. When Greenberg was forced out in March 2011, Ryan added the title of CEO.
During Spring Training earlier this year, the Rangers promoted general manager Daniels to the title of president of baseball operations. Rick George, who is no longer with the organization, was named president of business operations. The moves left Ryan concerned about his role within the organization but he remained as CEO for the 2013 season after a series of meetings with Davis and Simpson.
"From a corporate standpoint, Nolan's authority didn't change at all," Davis said. "What we were trying to do was recognize the accomplishments and responsibility of our two departments, being baseball and business. So it was strictly a title change. Nolan still had all the authority a CEO in any corporation has. On all major decisions in baseball, Nolan had final decision.
"If you're going to hold people responsible for departments, then they have to have the autonomy to make decisions within their department or you don't need them. So there's going to be times when there are disagreements, perhaps. But if there are major decisions, then there has to be a consensus and that consensus would have to be from whoever the GM is, the president and the CEO and ownership."
Davis termed major decisions as being those that had a long-term financial impact on the organization. Daniels still has authority over baseball operations and he was the one who decided to let go bench coach Jackie Moore. Ryan had strongly recommended Moore when he was hired five years ago and was opposed to the dismissal. Ryan was also opposed to including pitcher C.J. Edwards in a trade with the Cubs for Matt Garza last summer.
"I can't say just because we changed titles on some people that it drove me to this decision because that's not what it is," Ryan said. "I don't look at it from that perspective. I look at it from where I'm at in life and where I want to do. That's the way I look at it. What I was brought on for six years ago was still what was expected of me and what I expected of myself."
While Ryan was in charge, the Rangers went to the World Series in 2010-11 for the first time in franchise history. They have also drawn over 3 million fans in each of the last two seasons while the Ballpark in Arlington has undergone a series of major renovations that included new state-of-the-art scoreboards. The Rangers also completely renovated the center field plaza and the area immediately behind home plate.
"What we've had that you'll miss is the forging of two camps -- youth and experience with a product that speaks for itself," Simpson said. "That's what we worked hard to preserve as long as possible. We all wanted to go forever. This day, retirement days are inevitable in a man's life. I think in American culture we've extended our concept of what retirement is, but we have to acknowledge or deny that it's here.
"Our plans at the time are not to replace Nolan. We have great staff in place that Ray and I will probably step up our time a little bit at least for a little while until things are pocketed a little better. But we're not looking for a replacement. It sounds a little trite, but frankly Nolan Ryan's not replaceable. What he brought to the team I don't even think is on the market and in terms of day to day functions, we're very well staffed with a lot of great people, many of whom Nolan brought here."