The Meaning of Nolan Ryan

978-0-89096-575-7 Paperback
6 x 9 x 0 in
176 pp. 20 b&w photos.
Pub Date: 02/01/1994


  • Paperback $17.95
Who is Nolan Ryan? Might as well ask who is America. After twenty-seven major league seasons in the limelight, the man who has been called the "last true sports hero" stands as a national phenomenon–a phenomenon whose media portrayal tells America something important about itself.

Seven no-hitters. Over three hundred wins. Over fifty-five hundred strikeouts. More than fifty major league records. A Texas highway named for him. Forty-six years old at retirement, and still throwing the ball at over ninety miles per hour. The record speaks for itself. A hero.

But there's more to Ryan than the record. There's the image. And the business. The portrayal of this future Hall of Famer as a devoted husband, strong father, and off-season cowboy has been used to sell jeans, athletic shoes, pain relievers, and other products.

In this fascinating analysis of Ryan's career and the media hype surrounding it, Nick Trujillo examines his significance as a sports hero and celebrity in American culture. Each chapter of the book looks at a different aspect of Ryan's meaning in contemporary society: his meaning to his teammates on the Texas Rangers, his portrayal in the mass media, his status as American hero, his commodification as a commercialized product, and his representation as an image of traditional masculinity and "safe sex." Trujillo shows how Ryan functions as a sort of mirror in which a sometimes jaded nation can see what it wants to see of itself.

Published by Texas A&M University Press