HOUSTON -- The news conference to introduce Reid Ryan as president of business operations of the Houston Astros on Friday was technically labeled as "introductory," but in essence, the 41-year-old offspring of a Texas baseball legend already knew half of the people in the room.
Ryan, the eldest son of Hall of Famer Nolan Ryan, spent his childhood running around the Astrodome, often serving as a batboy while becoming a regular fixture around the Houston clubhouse through the 1980s. As an adult, Ryan maintained several relationships in Houston as he transitioned into a mastermind behind the success of two area Minor League franchises.
Both phases of life led him to Friday's announcement, as Ryan officially took over as the head of the business side of the Astros' operation on a three-year contract.
"Today really is a dream come true," Ryan said. "You grow up an Astros fan here in Houston, everybody's got their hometown team that they had, and the Astros were mine. This is just a very special day."
Ryan, previously the president and CEO of Ryan-Sanders Baseball, which owns the Triple-A Round Rock Express (Rangers) and the Double-A Corpus Christi Hooks, was running those two franchises when he was hired by the Astros. The wheels were put in motion about a month ago, when Ryan mentioned to owner Jim Crane he would someday like to be part of a Major League franchise. When George Postolos resigned on Monday, Crane moved quickly to recruit Ryan to take the position.
Having met Ryan several times during his visits to Corpus Christi, Crane was impressed with Ryan's easygoing, congenial personality and his ability to mesh well with the fans. Crane viewed those qualities as a necessary component to add to his staff as the organization moves forward with its long-term vision to improve from top to bottom.
"He's working the crowd, he's working with the fans, he's got a good personality and a good presence," Crane said. "When you first meet the guy, you like the guy. We're really excited in him getting engaged in that area. He's a people person, and I think the staff will enjoy working with him."
Ryan has the name, the pedigree and the obvious connection as part of a baseball family revered in all areas of Texas. But he's much more than just the son of a Texas legend.
He served on the board of trustees for Minor League Baseball, the executive committee of the Pacific Coast League and he has been the board of trustees representative for the Minor League Baseball Internet Rights Company (BIRCO). He has also been involved in many other business ventures, including real estate, banking and the restaurant industry.
Ryan has also enjoyed a great deal of success running the Round Rock franchise -- which had been Houston's Triple-A affiliate before switching its affiliation -- and Corpus Christi. Round Rock averaged 8,389 fans per game last year, leading the PCL in attendance. And Corpus Christi averaged 5,556 fans, second most in the Texas League behind Frisco, the Rangers' Double-A affiliate.
Possessing keen business savvy while also understanding the baseball side of the game is key for this position, which made Ryan a solid candidate and a target for Crane. While overseeing the sales, marketing, ticketing and communications aspect of the organization, Ryan will be a resource for general manager Jeff Luhnow while also serving as a public face of the franchise.
Pointing out that player development and on-field decisions are Luhnow's to make, Ryan added: "I will be here to help Jeff all he wants. I feel like I maybe bring a dimension that some of the other people that have been in this job haven't had: I was a player -- I've been around it. I know enough to be dangerous. If Jeff wants my advice, I've never been short on giving my opinion, and I'll definitely do it."
Ultimately, Ryan's goals are twofold. First, put the fans first. "We've got to make sure we're taking care of their best interest," he said. "If we take care of their best interest, they'll take care of us."
No. 2: take care of the players. "We've got to make sure we're doing everything in our power to be able to develop the best players, to attract the best players and to obtain the best players we can, because it's all about the players," he said. "If you don't have good players, it's tough to be in this business. And they're coming. It may not be this year. It may not be next year. But they're coming, and it's got me really fired up."
Ryan's hiring brought out the A-listers to Minute Maid Park on Friday. In attendance at the press conference was Nolan Ryan, accompanied by Reid's wife, Nicole, and children Jackson, Victoria and Ella. Reese Ryan, Reid's brother and CFO of Ryan-Sanders Baseball, also attended, as well as Don Sanders and former players Craig Biggio and Enos Cabell, both of whom work for the Astros as special assistants.
"It's very rewarding as a parent," Nolan said of his son's new post with the Astros. "I also think from a baseball standpoint that Jim made a good choice, I really do. I know Reid better than anybody else, and his passion for the game and his work ethic, all the things that he'll bring to that position. I'm very pleased and honored and excited at the fact that he's getting this opportunity."
And when the Astros and Rangers play each other?
"It'll be fun," Nolan said. "What I hope someday is that we'll have a very competitive relationship between the Astros and the Rangers, and that we'll be battling for the Western Division crown. And that not only will the Ryans be very involved and connected to it, but all the Texas baseball fans will be, too."