HOUSTON -- In less than five years, Astros president of business operations Reid Ryan has gone from consoling a fan base worried about a lack of a television deal and the direction of the team to planning World Series trophy tours and helping to design championship rings.
It's been a challenging but fulfilling ride for Ryan, the 46-year-old son of Hall of Fame pitcher Nolan Ryan and former Astros batboy. The Astros, who won their first championship by beating the Dodgers in the World Series, are on top of the baseball world, and Ryan couldn't be happier ... or busier.
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"It's been crazy," he said. "Going to the Winter Meetings, I couldn't go two steps without someone either congratulating us or asking me for a job. It's been wild. The excitement around town, people are very joyful with the win. I think Astros Nation is very prideful, so I'm seeing gear everywhere. I was at the airport the other day, and everybody's got hats and shorts on still. I think it's still a feeling of pride in this community."
Considering the Astros played an extra month this year -- they beat the Dodgers in Game 7 on Nov. 1 -- the offseason has flown by. That's especially true when you take into account how busy the Astros have been celebrating their World Series win. Ryan is planning a Commissioner's Trophy tour around Houston for January, with Spring Training coming closely behind.
"Here we were in November wrapping up, and we're now less than 50 days to Spring Training -- something like that -- in the middle of February," he said. "It was just the amount of things from the World Series that occupied us through November, and we looked up and it was December and we're sitting here going, 'Holy cow, we've got 30 days until it's 2018.' The front office, the team, they've turned the page. We're onto 2018, and this group of guys wants to have another great year next year, so I think you're going to see a lot of passion out there on the field once again."
It's impossible to go around Houston and not see Astros merchandise on store shelves or being worn by fans. That was a far cry from 2013, when the Astros lost 111 games and played before small crowds at Minute Maid Park and minuscule television audiences. Ryan, who founded the Triple-A Round Rock Express and Double-A Corpus Christi, was CEO of both Minor League clubs when Astros owner Jim Crane hired him on May 17, 2013, to take over the business operations in Houston.
In that span, Ryan has been a visible and steady public face for the Astros, successfully spreading the club's message to sponsors and fans alike. But nothing beats winning. Ryan said the World Series will see a boon of about 5,000 extra season tickets for 2018, pushing the full-season total to roughly 19,000. That equals about $15 million the team can put into payroll for next year, when it will try to be first team since the Yankees (1998-2000) to repeat.
"As far as the merchandise and all of that, we've done really, really well," Ryan said. "It's all just added more to the excitement for '18 and '19 than what we ended up netting off it in '17. For us, the World Series has taken us from a middle-of-the-pack club and now put us in one of those top 10 teams, and now the goal is going to be, 'Can we stay there?'"
For someone who grew up with the Astros rainbow uniforms in his DNA, Ryan is making sure to enjoy the ride while the club basks in its championship glory.
"We think we're pretty good at it now, and I'd love to do it again," he said.