AUSTIN, Texas -- University of Texas freshman pitcher Reid Ryan appreciated the fatherly advice he received before he took the mound against the Texas Rangers last night.
"Dad told me, 'Go out and have fun. Enjoy the game. Take it for what it's worth.' And that's what I did.
"Man, it was neat!"
So neat that the 19-year-old righthander enjoyed this most unusual evening of baseball at Disch-Falk Field more than his legendary father did.
"I had mixed emotions out there tonight," Nolan Ryan said after pitching five innings against the Longhorns that were erratic enough to keep the standing-room-only crowd of 8,234 interested in a game the Rangers eventually won, 12-5. "I was proud of Reid. He pitched better the first two innings than I did. I was disappointed I didn't have better command. But then I got my rhythm."
Interestingly, the Rangers' 44-year-old superstar found his rhythm on the mound after his son found a seat on the Longhorns' bench. Texas coach Cliff Gustafson said before the game that Reid, who had pitched only 3 1/3 innings this season, probably would work no more than two to three innings against the Rangers, and he stuck to that.
After Geno Petralli blasted a double that bounced off the base of the rightfield wall and scored Steve Buechele for a 3-1 Rangers lead, Gustafson went to the mound and gave Reid a friendly pat on the shoulder. Reid, his neat experience finished, blew a huge bubble with his gum as he trotted off amid rousing cheers.
In the Rangers' dugout, Nolan smiled and began to relax.
"I had distractions here, and it showed," he said of the unique father-son pitching matchup. "I was both a spectator and a competitor, and I prefer being the competitor. That spectator stuff eats me up."
Reid's final line from this family affair: four earned runs, five hits, one walk and one strikeout in two-plus innings. Dad's numbers: three earned runs, five hits, three walks, seven strikeouts and one wild pitch. Nolan came here for his last action before opening night against Milwaukee at Arlington Stadium next Monday, planning to throw 100 pitches and go about seven innings. He threw 111 in five.
"I got my work in," he said. "Physically, this is the best spring I've had in a long time. The intensity will come opening night."
The entire Ryan family showed up for this one. Reese, 15, wore a Rangers uniform and served as first-base coach. Wendy, 14, sat in a box beside the Longhorns' dugout and was joined by her mother after Ruth fired the ceremonial first pitch to Longhorns catcher Roger Luce.
Afterward, Ruth and Wendy stood in the back of an interview room as a large crowd of reporters listened to Nolan and Reid.
"I'm a proud mom right now," Ruth said. "I couldn't do what he did all week, with people following him everywhere for interviews. I've been calling him every day this week.