It was a warm summer early evening. My mom was making dinner and the 5:00 news was playing on that old black and white knob-turning television that sat on the corner of the island sink in our old kitchen. I’d just ran inside all sweaty from playing baseball all day in the front yard with the neighborhood kids. My mom was urging me to put a shirt on and wash my hands for dinner. And thats when I saw my first glimpse of Nolan Ryan vs. Robin Ventura.
That’s how big of news it really was in the sports world. Our local news station was giving it some coverage and replaying that rugged old man running his cowboy fists into the face of the young up and coming third baseman of the ChiSox. It would end up a 5-2 victory for the Rangers, and a win for Ryan, one of the last of his career.
But for the baseball purist at heart, it signified something so much greater. It was 46 year old Nolan Ryan knocking the Sam-Hell out of a 25 year old wet behind the ears pup. You know dads all over America smiled that night and most of them were thinking the same thing. It was part of Robin Ventura’s rite of passage in a way, Nolan Ryan made him more of a man for getting that beating.
Baseball fights are often frowned upon, but this is just another small classic nuggett in baseball’s illustrious past. Why else would it be replayed constantly on the major sports outlets and talked about so fondly in baseball lore? It’s because it was a classic case of that old parable, the old bull knocking the young bull off the hill one last time before he rode off into the sunset. There’s something storybook about that.