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September 30, 2011

Nolan Ryan


NOLAN RYAN: I appreciate you all being here. We're very proud of the fact that Cooper Stone's going to be here today to throw out the first pitch, and we thought that it was very appropriate to have him come out. He represents what we believe we're about. And he is a very die-in-the-wool Ranger fan, and he is going to have an opportunity to throw out the pitch to his favorite player.
And so we're just honored that they were willing to come out and do that and share the day with us.
I'll open it to questions, if anybody has anything.

Q. Nolan, first of all, I'm going to assume his favorite player -- meaning Josh Hamilton?
NOLAN RYAN: That's correct.

Q. Talk about this decision and how much input you had with the family. Is this the first time he has been back to the ballpark since then?
NOLAN RYAN: Yes, it is. We have stayed in contact with Jenny Stone ever since the accident, and her and I have discussed about the fact that Cooper wanted to come to another ballgame and that Jenny would hopefully be up for coming at the appropriate time. And we left that strictly up to her of when she felt like it, that she was able to come out and bring Cooper.
And so this will be their first trip here. She had indicated to me earlier in the summer that Cooper was wanting to come out to the game, but she wasn't ready to deal with it. And so she told me that she felt like before the season was over that she would bring him back because she felt like that was in his best interests, because this is what he was wanting to do.
So a couple of weeks ago I called her with one homestand left to visit with her and see if they were interested in coming out for the last homestand or if they would -- how she felt. I just wanted to bounce it off of her about him possibly throwing out a first pitch. And she said they would be honored to do that, and that's kind of what she was going to shoot for, was first pitch.
And we stayed in contact and felt like it would only be appropriate to do it on the first game.

Q. Nolan, have you personally or has your organization as a group developed a relationship with that family?
NOLAN RYAN: Well, I have stayed in contact with Jenny and I call her periodically just to see how she's doing and see if they have any needs that we might be able to assist with. And so it's been ongoing since the accident. And I probably have been the point person on that.

Q. How many members of the Stone family will be here?
NOLAN RYAN: I am not for sure as far as actual family members. She will be in a party of eight today.

Q. What's your general feeling on how Josh, who is catching the ball today -- but how he has handled this entire situation?
NOLAN RYAN: I think Josh has handled it well. And I went to Josh before we decided anything and asked Josh how he felt about it, because I didn't want to put Josh in any awkward position, and he was comfortable with it.

Q. Nolan, Josh in Tampa, where I'm from, that was a darker period in his life. What has he been like here with the Rangers as a player and a man?
NOLAN RYAN: Well, I think Josh has grown a tremendous amount in his life from the experience that he had back -- going back to his days when he was in the Tampa organization.
And I think it's hard for to us comprehend what he's been through, what it has taken for him to get to where he is today. So when you look at Josh Hamilton and that story, it is a remarkable story; that he has been able to accomplish what he has and handled the addiction that he has.
I think that it speaks volumes for Josh as a person and the support team that he has, and it starts with Katie and his girls and his family. And so there are so many people that are supportive of that and involved in it, so it has been a true success story.
Just by him being able to do what he does on a day-to-day basis, and then you add to what he means to the organization and the MVP year he had last year. And so, I mean, it truly is a phenomenal story.

Q. Nolan, if you could just talk about this club in the terms of getting the 96 wins. It is the first for a franchise and has to leave you very confident coming into this postseason.
NOLAN RYAN: Well, I couldn't be any prouder of our ballclub for the season that they have had and what they have accomplished. And when you look at the conditions in whence they did it under, faced with the heat wave we had this year, the record-breaking heat wave, and the way the Major League rosters are structured nowadays with the number of pitchers that you carry, you don't carry other position players where you have the luxury of resting those people and substituting and doing some of the things that maybe back in the days when I played early in my career and we might carry nine pitchers instead of 13.
And so it gave a manager an opportunity to have a lot more flexibility with his roster. And so when you take that into consideration and look at those guys, the number of at-bats they are playing and how much they are playing in their positions, I tell you what, I couldn't be any prouder of a group of people as I am of this ballclub. For them to do what they've done and have the September they've had.
So I think it speaks volumes about the character of that ballclub and the make-up of that ballclub.

Q. Nolan, what are your feelings on Derek Holland and what he's done this second half and your comfort level with him pitching?
NOLAN RYAN: I think Derek has grown as a pitcher and matured as an athlete. This second half, and I think some of the adversities that he went through early with a couple of the performances that he had early where he was not only out of the game in the first, second inning, but the position that he put his ballclub in, I think that it had a real impact on him.
And I think when you sometimes worry about young players when they are in that position and which direction they will go, so it says a lot about Derek that as embarrassed as he was and as down as he was, that he grew off of those experiences and didn't let it drag him down.
So I am really proud of the job he does, and I think that he looks at himself as the go-to guy, too. I think he thinks when it's his day that he has a job to do for his teammates, and that that's his mindset when he goes out there.

Q. Nolan, you guys have had mostly home-grown rotation this year which a lot of teams aspire to. How have you gone about that? And how big of a point of emphasis is that for you to have the home-grown rotation?
NOLAN RYAN: I think it's important, but obviously with free agencies and opportunities with trades and stuff that your rotation is so important to you. And would I rather it be players that came through our system? Yeah, I would. But I think there's more of a comfort level there.
But I'm just thrilled that our starters have done what they've done. They have had an outstanding year and they pitched a lot of innings, and I think that it has meant a lot to us that Ron didn't have to overexpose his bullpen the second half from having to go to it so early in the first half, and then I think with the trades we strengthened our bullpen.
I really think this ballclub is more balanced today than it has ever been since I have been here.

Q. And what does it say about Ranger fans that you set a record in a record-setting summer heat wave?
NOLAN RYAN: We couldn't be prouder of our fans and their commitment to come out and support us. And I think our players really do appreciate that, and when you consider and you look at our society today, that people aren't accustomed to being in the heat and that it is very challenging to them to be in the heat and sit out in the heat for four hours. It is not like going out in your yard and doing something for five or ten minutes. They are out there for four hours. And that says a lot. And to be able to set the record and the support that they gave our team, it just speaks volumes.
So I'm very appreciative of that. And not only did they come out, but they support the team; that they wear Ranger garb and are very proud of the Rangers and proud to be a Ranger fan. And that relationship I couldn't be prouder of.
THE MODERATOR: All right. Thank you, Nolan.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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