The numbers, no matter how many times you've heard them, are mind-boggling. Twenty-seven major leauge seasons, eight of those in Houston, all-time leader in strikeouts (5,714), seven no-hitters (three more than anybody else), eight All-Star appearances, still throwing in the high 90s at age 46, when he threw his last pitch.
But 15 years later, that competitive drive still burns. That's why he accepted the job as president of the Texas Rangers in February.
Eyewitness Sports visited Ryan in his office at The Ballpark in Arlington on Friday.
"I think that, probably in the second half of my career, I really got to thinking about what I was going to do after baseball," Ryan said. "I always wanted to be involved in an organization and trying to help shape that organization.
"When (Rangers owner) Tom Hicks called me and asked me if I had an interest in doing this, I thought it probably would be the only window of opportunity to do this," he said.
When asked if he felt underutilized while he was with the front office of the Astros, Ryan replied:
"That's hard to say because, I think, for the amount of time that I was able to give to them, they took pretty good advantage of it. But I think there's times that I could have had more input in the direction some of the players went, and the opinions I had on some of our players."
Ryan is definitely hands-on. He gets involved in every aspect of the team. And he really enjoys getting involved on the baseball side.
"The younger employees treat me more like the president of the ballclub. The older employees treat me more like Nolan Ryan, the ballplayer, or look at me that way, I think," Ryan said.
"I want people to be comfortable around me and to think that I'm approachable."