More Than Just a Game: Sports in American Life since 1945

By Kathryn Jay | Go to book overview
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7. High-Priced Heroes Ea Elabal

In August 1989, the Texas Rangers' Nolan Ryan struck out Rickey Henderson to reach 5,000 strikeouts in his career. An editorial from the Dallas Morning News gushed that "from work habits that have kept his middle-aged muscles fighting trim, to a clean-cut personal life straight out of the rural Texas he loves, Mr. Ryan is a hero for all ages."1 The following year, the "hero for all ages" reached 300 wins and pitched his sixth career no-hitter. He wasn't finished, throwing one final no-hitter in 1991 at the age of forty-four. Ryan had broken into the majors with the "Miracle Mets" in 1969, saving the third game of the World Series in New York's victory over the Baltimore Orioles. His reputation as a upstanding straight-shooter attracted companies, including Advil, Wrangler Jeans, Duracell batteries, Southwest Airlines, Nike, and Starter Apparel, who were eager to attach his image to their product. Much like the slogan for Duracell, which assured consumers that "no other battery lasts longer," Ryan played so long that he was the only pitcher to strike out all three of the men who surpassed Babe Ruth's season homerun record: Roger Maris, Mark McGwire, and Barry Bonds.

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