Rangers Retire Ryan-Ventura Fight

Rangers Retire Ryan-Ventura Fight

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Topics: Chicago White Sox, Robin Ventura, Nolan Ryan, Galloway Co., Spring Training, Spring training, Sports

Tags: White Sox, Cactus League, mound, baseball, Randy Galloway

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SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Robin Ventura was in town on Thursday. Nolan Ryan was not here.It's been that way for nearly 19 years.Nolan and Robin, as famous a "couple" as baseball has ever known, have not crossed paths, or never spoken, since an August evening in 1993.At that time, of course, they met up in the middle of the infield at a long-gone ballpark in Arlington, Texas.Ventura charged the mound. Nolan stepped off the mound to meet the charge. Ventura's head immediately became trapped in Ryan's left arm, and the fists began to fly from Nolan's right hand.Nolan was 46 at the time. Robin was 26. Nolan didn't need any more of a legendary baseball status, but that one scene immortalized him even more.Millions and millions of worldwide Internet hits later, and with the headlock-fists-flying picture on the wall of every sports bar in America, it has become one of the most recognized scenes not just in baseball, but all of sports.Ventura -- "one of the nice people in the game," Ryan said -- obviously took the negative end of history on this one."That's not a good thing," Ryan noted over the winter after Ventura was selected as the surprise choice as new manager of the White Sox. "I am forever surprised that a mere baseball fight, and I'd had a few others over the years, could have this kind of life. It's been nearly 20 years."The White Sox came to town for a Cactus League game against the Rangers on Thursday afternoon, and when I ran into Ryan in the early morning I asked if he was going to look up Ventura."Well, I had planned on it," he said, "but we have a [Rangers] board of directors meeting all day. I'm leaving here in a minute."The White Sox bus hadn't arrived when Ryan pulled out of the parking lot, headed down the road to a Scottsdale hotel to meet with the team ownership group that had arrived from Texas on Wednesday night.All these years, and Ryan and Ventura have never met or even spoken. How could that have happened? How could some card show promoter not given both six figures apiece in appearance money and promoted the duo being together again?"But it's not like either one of us are mad or anything," said Ventura on Thursday, before the White Sox won, 6-3. "We've just never been around at the same time."But I guess that is going to change, huh?"Besides both the Rangers and White Sox being based in Arizona for spring training, the White Sox will open the regular season in April against the Rangers in Arlington."If I don't meet up with Robin, and have a talk out here, I am definitely going to do it opening weekend," Ryan said.A renewed round of video views of the fight and stories on it, particularly in Chicago, happened in October after the Ventura hiring."It got hyped up again," said Ventura, "but I'm been asked about it for years. People always bring it up. My answer is, hey, it happened, but it wasn't like what happened that night cost me a career in MMA or something."At a White Sox fanfest in Chicago in late January, a fan brought it up to Ventura. His answer matched up exactly with the facts in 1993. The Rangers were chasing the White Sox in the division and in the first two games of the series in Arlington, batters from both sides were being hit by pitches.Tension was a bit high when Ryan took the mound in the series finale. Nolan, of course, was never hesitant about "throwing inside." The White Sox were expecting it.When a Ryan inside heater caught Ventura in the elbow, he started to first, then took a left turn to the mound. History was about to happen. At least Ryan history.Ken Harrelson, the well-known TV voice for the Sox, said at the fanfest that Ventura told him after the game, "Hawk, he upset me when he hit me, and I got halfway to the mound and I said, "my God, it's Nolan Ryan out there."Ventura's postgame quote that night about being hit by a Ryan pitch was, "if you don't think he did it on purpose, then you don't know the game."Nolan never said one way or the other, but I bet he did it on purpose.Ryan suggested over the winter that at least for the season-opening series against the White Sox that a highly popular pregame video not be shown on the big scoreboard at the Arlington ballpark.As a history of Rangers highlights comes up on the screen, nothing draws cheers like Nolan and Robin."Out of respect for Ventura, with him being in the other dugout, we don't need to be showing it," Ryan said.But after more discussion, it has now been decided that the fight scene will never be shown again at the ballpark.Chuck Morgan, world famous P.A. voice at the yard and also a team vice president, arrived in Surprise on Thursday for the directors' meetings, and he admitted it was his idea to remove the fight from the video highlights.Morgan: "I'm going to catch grief over it from our fans, and I know the "you're an idiot" e-mails will be coming in, because to this day nothing we show on the scoreboard draws a reaction from the crowd like that still does."But what started as something not to do for opening weekend out of respect from Ventura, expanded into some more thinking. I went to Nolan with it. I told him I thought the fight had run its course, and it was time to move on."Ryan, he said, agreed immediately."Look, I've done hundreds of Q and As with Nolan all over the state and a question on the Ventura fight comes up every time," Morgan said. "I know it's popular, very popular. But I told Nolan that with him now being a big executive, we need to emphasis the more regal side of him."Morgan chuckled when asked how receptive was Ryan to having his "more regal side" displayed."The important thing was he actually agreed that the Ventura video had run its course," Chuck added.I don't think Ventura will disagree. I don't think many Rangers fans will agree.Either way, it's kind of a shame that a part of baseball history in Arlington will be taken down forever.Randy Galloway can be heard on Galloway & Co. weekdays 3-6 p.m. on ESPN/103.3 FMRandy Galloway817-390-7697

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Headed to the dugout, a fist-bump from Texas Rangers Craig Gentry (23,rt) after Josh Hamilton scored on a Mitch Moreland hit, 4th inning. The Texas Rangers lose to the Chicago White Sox 6-3 at the Rangers park in Surprise. Photographed 3/8/12, Surprise, AZ. (Fort Worth Star-Telegram/Paul Moseley)

Star-Telegram/Paul Moseley

Texas Rangers relief pitcher Neal Cotts (73), 5th inning. The Texas Rangers lose to the Chicago White Sox 6-3 at the Rangers park in Surprise. Photographed 3/8/12, Surprise, AZ. (Fort Worth Star-Telegram/Paul Moseley)

Star-Telegram/Paul Moseley

The White Sox celebrate their win over the Rangers. The Texas Rangers lose to the Chicago White Sox 6-3 at the Rangers park in Surprise. Photographed 3/8/12, Surprise, AZ. (Fort Worth Star-Telegram/Paul Moseley)

Star-Telegram/Paul Moseley

As Chicago White Sox shortstop Tyler Kuhn (76) waits for the throw from his catcher, Texas Rangers center fielder Julio Borbon (20) slides safely into 2nd base, bottom of the 9th inning. The Texas Rangers lose to the Chicago White Sox 6-3 at the Rangers park in Surprise. Photographed 3/8/12, Surprise, AZ. (Fort Worth Star-Telegram/Paul Moseley)

Star-Telegram/Paul Moseley

Chicago White Sox shortstop Ozzie Martinez (28) is out at 2nd base as an airborne Texas Rangers shortstop Luis Hernandez (3) throws to first for the double play ending the top of the 9th inning. . The Texas Rangers lose to the Chicago White Sox 6-3 at the Rangers park in Surprise. Photographed 3/8/12, Surprise, AZ. (Fort Worth Star-Telegram/Paul Moseley)

Star-Telegram/Paul Moseley

Texas Rangers relief pitcher Mark Lowe (57) and catcher Dusty Brown (2) confer on the mound late in the game. The Texas Rangers lose to the Chicago White Sox 6-3 at the Rangers park in Surprise. Photographed 3/8/12, Surprise, AZ. (Fort Worth Star-Telegram/Paul Moseley)

Star-Telegram/Paul Moseley

Texas Rangers relief pitcher Mark Lowe (57). The Texas Rangers lose to the Chicago White Sox 6-3 at the Rangers park in Surprise. Photographed 3/8/12, Surprise, AZ. (Fort Worth Star-Telegram/Paul Moseley)

Star-Telegram/Paul Moseley

Texas Rangers shortstop Elvis Andrus (1) with a towel over his head in the dugout, 4th inning. The Texas Rangers lose to the Chicago White Sox 6-3 at the Rangers park in Surprise. Photographed 3/8/12, Surprise, AZ. (Fort Worth Star-Telegram/Paul Moseley)

Star-Telegram/Paul Moseley

Hands are up in the Rangers dugout after Josh Hamilton scored on a Mitch Moreland hit, 4th inning. The Texas Rangers lose to the Chicago White Sox 6-3 at the Rangers park in Surprise. Photographed 3/8/12, Surprise, AZ. (Fort Worth Star-Telegram/Paul Moseley)

Star-Telegram/Paul Moseley

Texas Rangers relief pitcher Yoshinori Tateyama (22). The Texas Rangers lose to the Chicago White Sox 6-3 at the Rangers park in Surprise. Photographed 3/8/12, Surprise, AZ. (Fort Worth Star-Telegram/Paul Moseley)

Star-Telegram/Paul Moseley

Texas Rangers relief pitcher Yoshinori Tateyama (22). The Texas Rangers lose to the Chicago White Sox 6-3 at the Rangers park in Surprise. Photographed 3/8/12, Surprise, AZ. (Fort Worth Star-Telegram/Paul Moseley)

Star-Telegram/Paul Moseley

Texas Rangers relief pitcher Yoshinori Tateyama (22). The Texas Rangers lose to the Chicago White Sox 6-3 at the Rangers park in Surprise. Photographed 3/8/12, Surprise, AZ. (Fort Worth Star-Telegram/Paul Moseley)

Star-Telegram/Paul Moseley

Texas Rangers relief pitcher Joe Nathan (36). The Texas Rangers lose to the Chicago White Sox 6-3 at the Rangers park in Surprise. Photographed 3/8/12, Surprise, AZ. (Fort Worth Star-Telegram/Paul Moseley)

Star-Telegram/Paul Moseley

Texas Rangers starting pitcher Neftali Feliz (30), 1st inning. The Texas Rangers lose to the Chicago White Sox 6-3 at the Rangers park in Surprise. Photographed 3/8/12, Surprise, AZ. (Fort Worth Star-Telegram/Paul Moseley)

Star-Telegram/Paul Moseley

Chicago White Sox center fielder Alejandro De Aza (30) runs to second as Texas Rangers second baseman Ian Kinsler (5) closes in on a hit by White Sox' Brent Morel's (22) grounder, Kinsler throwing to first to close the top of the 4th inning. The Texas Rangers lose to the Chicago White Sox 6-3 at the Rangers park in Surprise. Photographed 3/8/12, Surprise, AZ. (Fort Worth Star-Telegram/Paul Moseley)

Star-Telegram/Paul Moseley

Rangers fan Darren Reeves, from Fort Worth, showing his Ranger pride with a shaved head, colored hair, a Rangers rub-on tattoo and a giant oversized baseball bat. The Texas Rangers lose to the Chicago White Sox 6-3 at the Rangers park in Surprise. Photographed 3/8/12, Surprise, AZ. (Fort Worth Star-Telegram/Paul Moseley)

Star-Telegram/Paul Moseley

Chicago White Sox third baseman Brent Morel (22) can't reach a single from Texas Rangers Nelson Cruz (17), 4th inning. The Texas Rangers lose to the Chicago White Sox 6-3 at the Rangers park in Surprise. Photographed 3/8/12, Surprise, AZ. (Fort Worth Star-Telegram/Paul Moseley)

Star-Telegram/Paul Moseley

Chicago White Sox relief pitcher Gregory Infante (54), 4th inning. The Texas Rangers lose to the Chicago White Sox 6-3 at the Rangers park in Surprise. Photographed 3/8/12, Surprise, AZ. (Fort Worth Star-Telegram/Paul Moseley)

Star-Telegram/Paul Moseley

Texas Rangers relief pitcher Michael Kirkman (44), 3rd inning. The Texas Rangers lose to the Chicago White Sox 6-3 at the Rangers park in Surprise. Photographed 3/8/12, Surprise, AZ. (Fort Worth Star-Telegram/Paul Moseley)

Star-Telegram/Paul Moseley

Texas Rangers relief pitcher Michael Kirkman (44), 3rd inning. The Texas Rangers lose to the Chicago White Sox 6-3 at the Rangers park in Surprise. Photographed 3/8/12, Surprise, AZ. (Fort Worth Star-Telegram/Paul Moseley)

Star-Telegram/Paul Moseley

Texas Rangers starting pitcher Neftali Feliz (30), 1st inning. The Texas Rangers lose to the Chicago White Sox 6-3 at the Rangers park in Surprise. Photographed 3/8/12, Surprise, AZ. (Fort Worth Star-Telegram/Paul Moseley)

Star-Telegram/Paul Moseley

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