Last Roundup for Nolan Ryan : Baseball: Pitcher, 46, says he will retire after the 1993 season, his 27th in the major leagues.

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A 27-year career illuminated by the blinking lights of the speed guns will end with the 1993 season.

Nolan Ryan said Thursday that this season will be his last, a final fling for one of the most remarkable pitchers ever.

With pitchers and catchers scheduled to report to the Texas Rangers’ training base in Florida next week, Ryan, 46, told the team’s management Thursday that he would retire at the end of the season. He said age, family and injuries were the key factors.


“I’d rather be premature in leaving baseball than stay too long and have to retire in an awkward situation,” Ryan said during an Arlington Stadium news conference.

“I wanted to go to spring training without having to deceive anyone. I wanted fans to have the opportunity to watch me pitch again and I wanted to let them know I was going to retire. I didn’t want that issue hanging over the team. There’s also the physical part of it. It became more difficult for me to find workout time and I seemed to have become more vulnerable to injury. At my age, it takes longer to recover.”

Said team President Tom Schieffer: “Nolan walked in this morning and said he had been thinking about it all winter and wanted to make this his last year. I mean, what a class way to do it. He’s a unique person and pitcher. I’m not sure we’ll ever see another like him.”

Ryan, with a 319-287 record, holds more than 50 major league records. The most renowned are his seven no-hitters and his 5,668 strikeouts.

By pitching a 27th season, he will break the major league record shared by Tommy John and Deacon McGuire.

Although he still throws his celebrated fastball at more than 90 m.p.h., Ryan has been on the disabled list four times in the last three years. He missed more than a month at one point last season and was restricted to 27 starts. His five victories--against nine defeats--were his fewest since his rookie season in 1966, when he was 0-1 in two games for the New York Mets. Even so, he struck out 157 in 157 1/3 innings.


“Whenever a superstar decides to retire, there’s a degree of sadness to it,” Manager Kevin Kennedy said. “But now when fans come to the park, they know they’ll be seeing a legend for the last time.”

Ryan has a 10-year personal-services contract with the Rangers after he retires but said he is not interested in being either a coach or manager.

He also said he didn’t want to be like “a lot of guys who would like to die in their uniforms. My kids will be leaving home soon and I wanted to be with them. You have to feel enough is enough.

“As it is, I’m surprised I’ve been able to pitch as long as I have,” he said. “I went into my last contract in Houston thinking it would be my last and my first contract with the Rangers thinking it would be my last.

“I’ve been fortunate to be a power pitcher from the start and didn’t want to get into a situation where I had to think about adjustments that would be tough to make at my age.

“I’d love to win 20 games this year, but I’m going to walk away even if I do, because you have to make decisions and stick to them.”


Said George W. Bush, the Rangers’ managing general partner: “It’s the passing of an era. I wish he could go on forever.”

Added General Manager Tom Grieve: “Besides the no-hitters and his success on the mound, he’s been a great goodwill ambassador. I’ve seen him sit outside the clubhouse in spring training and sign autographs for hours. Few players in history would ever do that or have ever had the type relationship with the fans that he’s had. You run out of words to describe him.”


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