In baseball-filled life, Ruth Ryan proud of kids

Wife of HOFer Nolan has always been around game, isn't surprised children have kept it up

In baseball-filled life, Ruth Ryan proud of kids

NEW YORK -- From the Little League fields of Alvin to Minor League ballparks across Texas to the big leagues, Ruth Ryan has probably seen more baseball games than just about anybody. The wife of Hall of Fame pitcher Nolan Ryan -- the couple will celebrate 50 years of marriage next month -- and mother of three, including two sons entrenched in the game, she wouldn't have it any other way.

Ruth and Nolan Ryan were married on June 26, 1967, when he was 20 and she was 18. They were high school sweethearts at Alvin High School -- just south of Houston -- and star athletes. He was a promising pitcher, and she was a high school state tennis champ. And so began an unforgettable 50-year journey of life in baseball.

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Their oldest child, Reid Ryan, is the president of business operations for the Astros. Middle child Reese Ryan serves as CEO of Ryan Sanders Baseball, the ownership group for the Rangers' Triple-A affiliate, the Round Rock Express. And daughter Wendy Bivins lives in Amarillo with her family. Nolan and Ruth have seven grandchildren.

"I'm just so proud," Ruth said. "When they're little, and as a baseball wife, you're home a lot by yourself, and you just don't know if you're doing things the right way. Just to have them grow up and be productive citizens and be happy in their jobs and work hard like they do, I'm just so proud."

All three Ryan children are success stories and productive members of society who are all involved in charity work, which makes Ruth beam. Reid and Reese both played baseball growing up, but when they put away the spikes at an early age, they couldn't escape the game.

Reid, who is in his fifth season as club president, was a bat boy for the Astros while his father pitched in Houston. He later pitched at the University of Texas and TCU, and he was in the Rangers' Minor League system for two years. Nolan Ryan retired after 27 seasons in 1993 as baseball's all-time strikeout king and with 324 wins.

Nolan later served as CEO and president of the Rangers. Reid was CEO of the Double-A Corpus Christi Hooks and Round Rock Express before joining the Astros. Through it all, Reid says his mom has been the rock of the family.

"What's really neat about my mom is she's probably seen more baseball than anybody I know," Reid said. "When my dad was playing, he was never able to coach us in Little League, so she actually coached us in Alvin Little League for a couple of years, and we had a really good team and won the league. She's the real deal. She doesn't get too high, doesn't get too low. She's just always been there for everybody in the family."

Everyone in the family lives in Texas, which means they get together as much as they can around their busy schedules. Even today, Ruth keeps up with the Astros and Rangers, but her kids and grandkids remain the centerpiece of her life. It's no surprise to her that Reid and Reese made a life in the game.

"I knew they had that passion," Ruth said. "I knew they wanted to, but they knew their limitations as far as what they knew what it would be like to play Major League ball. When Reid was in college, he said, 'Mom, I just want to try to play professional ball. I would love to experience that for a couple of years.' And he did try. He knew that it would be hard, but hey, I'm glad they're not afraid to try and put themselves out there."

Ruth always pushed her kids like that. She wanted them to be active, though it didn't always have to be on a baseball field. But was there any doubt the sons of Ruth and Nolan Ryan would find a way to make a career out of the game?

"She always said to do your best and treat people right and treat them like you wanted to be treated," Reid said. "My mom is a very friendly person who is a kind, loving individual. I feel blessed that I've taken traits from both my parents. Most people I meet say, 'Boy, you're lot friendlier than your dad. You're like your mom.' I think I've got a little bit of both of them."

Brian McTaggart has covered the Astros since 2004, and for MLB.com since 2009. Follow @brianmctaggart on Twitter and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.