As Ryan's road ends, long trips take their toll

August 22, 1993|By Nolan Ryan | Nolan Ryan,Fort Worth Star-Telegram

We're ending one of our longest road trips of the season, and travel in baseball is not as glamorous as fans believe. Life on the road has changed over the years from when I first broke in. It seems back then that the team was closer knit as a unit. They would do more activities together on a road trip.

There were more day games, so it consisted of everybody meeting somewhere for dinner as well as fraternizing at the local watering holes. Now it's quite a bit different because of a lot of different factors.

It seems like players have become almost nocturnal during baseball. They use the road trips to get caught up on their sleep. You find very few ballplayers who actually go to bed before 1 to 3 o'clock in the morning.

Because of that, they have a tendency to sleep until extremely late in the morning or around noon. Some players may not get out of bed until 1 or 2 o'clock in the afternoon. So it's almost like they're working shift work where they have the evening shift. Because of that, I think a lot of the activities on the road consist of mainly going to the ballpark, working out and nothing much besides that.

With television, we play very few day games so I know my routine is changed from where I used to go out and try to find nice restaurants and go out to dinner on the nights we had evenings off. If we do play day games, it seems like it's getaway day and we're on an airplane. On the road, I try to stay pretty much on the same schedule as at home.

I try to get up about 8 o'clock in the morning, eat breakfast, go do my workouts in the morning at one of the health clubs and be back by noon or 1 o'clock where I can eat a late lunch around 1:30 or 2, then go to the ballpark. I also try to put off some of my phone calling and correspondence and anything I have to do as far as autograph requests until I get on the road in order to occupy the time.

The reason for that is because I'm stuck in my hotel and become a prisoner of my room because of the autograph seekers and the fans in the lobby around the hotel. It bothers you because you're restricted and you've lost your freedom to do what you'd like to do: get out and not be bothered, walk around town or do some shopping. I have to do my activities in my room.

Some of the hotels won't allow autographs, but some are unable to control it because during the summer months when kids are out of school, a lot of the hotels we stay in are the hotels for people who are going to the game. Anaheim is a good example fTC of that, and the Marriott in St. Louis was real bad because it's directly across from the ballpark. You couldn't get to the ballpark or out of your room or anything.

Baltimore is that way. The walk now in Baltimore consists of two or three security men walking over to the ballpark. The ballpark is across the street, and we don't have a team bus. So I go out and try to sign for 15 or 20 minutes, then go back in the hotel and get the security guards, walk over and not sign any more autographs.

My favorite city around the American League is Kansas City, because of the ballpark, the hotel and the attitude of the people in the Midwest. People are friendlier there and not as demanding. I like Chicago a lot because of being able to get up and walk down Michigan Avenue. There are a lot of nice restaurants around the hotel to have lunch. I don't think the new Comiskey Park is that much of an improvement over the old, but it certainly is for us as far as the clubhouse and the dugout, which we spend a lot of time in.

New York is probably our least-favorite place to go because of the number of autograph seekers at the hotel and because of the tough, time-consuming bus ride to the ballpark. There's also Yankee Stadium, with that small clubhouse and a dugout that's uncomfortable because you can't see.

We enjoy Seattle a lot because it's a nice change, especially in the summer when the weather is cool. There are also a lot of nice stores around the hotel and you can walk to the ballpark if you want.

The biggest problem with going to the West Coast is the time. We play so many night games and then we travel afterward without a day off so we're getting into the West Coast from anywhere from 2 to 3 o'clock, which is 4 or 5 o'clock body time. Then, when you come back from the West Coast, you're !B adjusted to their time and it takes you a day or two to get back on schedule here.

Because of the weather, we play a lot of night getaway games in Arlington. That makes it hard on you, especially now. It's late in the year, you've had a lot of long trips, you haven't had many days off, and it's bad that you have to fly late at night after a game.

It takes more out of you. You spend so much time traveling, from the time the game ends to the time you take off, you're looking at close to three hours. If you have a two- to three-hour flight, by the time you get off the plane and take the bus into town, you've usually been traveling six to seven hours, and that's really grinding.

Editor's note: Texas Rangers pitcher Nolan Ryan has been writing a weekly column for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram during his final major-league season.

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