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January 3, 2014

Raising Aces

The Good Old Days: Nolan Ryan

by Doug Thorburn


During the 2012-13 offseason, I took some time to appreciate a few of the greatest pitchers of the previous generation. Some of these pitchers are due for Hall of Fame election in the next week, some are waiting on the doorstep while the voters decide how to handle an era tainted by steroids, and others are locks for enshrinement as soon as their eligibility clocks are sounded. It was not a coincidence that each of these legends had a mechanical profile that fully supported his prowess, but it was instructive to study how they had developed from the flawed hurlers of their youth into the out-generating machines that defined their respective peaks.

Fast-forward to this offseason, but rewind the tapes by another generation, to the elder statesmen who blazed the trail for the aces of the 1990s and 2000s. The 1980s are somewhat notorious for their lack of slam-dunk Hall of Famers, with debates surrounding the worthiness of players such as Jack Morris and Bert Blyleven. But there is one player who superseded the debate, despite the fact that he carried as many warts on his statistical record as he did accolades: Nolan Ryan, whose career spanned four decades with four organizations, and whose impact was unquestioned.

Readers will hopefully excuse any tinges of personal bias, given that I earned my pitching degree at the National Pitching Association while working with Tom House (who just happened to be Ryan's pitching coach in Texas), but I believe that it can be said without hyperbole that Nolan Ryan was the most intimidating presence to take the mound during the peaks of his career. My NPA gig did afford certain advantages in studying and learning about the intricate details of Ryan's greatness, from first-person stories via Tom House to numerical measurements that stemmed from the early versions of motion capture and analysis. One aspect that stood out was that House may have learned as much from Ryan as Ryan learned from House.

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Related Content:  Pitching,  Mechanics,  Nolan Ryan,  Tom House

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<< Previous Article
Fantasy Article Sporer Report: Garbage... (01/03)
<< Previous Column
Premium Article Raising Aces: Examinin... (12/27)
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Premium Article Raising Aces: Classic ... (01/10)
Next Article >>
Premium Article Minor League Update: I... (01/03)

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