It's one thing to be the son of Nolan Ryan but quite another to receive the limelight usually reserved for the Texas Rangers' 44-year-old star pitcher.
But 18-year-old Reid Ryan is holding up well, considering all the media hoopla focused on him leading up to tonight's exhibition game between the Rangers and the Texas Longhorns.Several network television cameramen have been following him to class and on campus during the past week.
The game, at UT's 5,000-seat Disch-Falk Field, has been a sellout for months.
"The last couple of days it has been hectic," said Reid. "It hasn't been all that difficult; I've just had to cut out some of my free time."
To prepare to face his father, Reid's teammates cranked up the Texas pitching machine beyond its limits and began visiting the weight room on a regular basis.
Reid's father is confident that his son can handle the high profile outing.
"It should be a fun night," Ryan said. "It'll be important for him to block all that out. It's different, but growing up around it, it's something he's accustomed to. He's had to deal with it his whole life.
"He's already played on the same Little League field I played on."
Asked whom his wife Ruth will be rooting for, Ryan smiled and answered: "Oh, she'll be pulling for him."
After a standout high school career, the younger Ryan signed with Texas and has pitched in only three innings in two games, fittingly striking out the very first batter he faced.
The elder Ryan will be serving up "senior heat" at 96 miles an hour against Reid, who will be firing "junior heat" at 88 mph against the American Leaguers.
When asked how fast he threw when he was 19, Nolan shot back, "They didn't have radar guns when I was 19."
It's the first known mound duel between a major league pitcher and his son. According to the Society of American Baseball Research, there have been 122 cases in major league history in which both a father and son or sons have played in a major league regular season game. The only father-son combination to appear in the big leagues at the same time is Ken Griffey Sr. and Jr., both of the Seattle Mariners.
"This is a different situation than what I've ever been in," the elder Ryan said Monday. "I'll approach it as any other game when I'm pitching, but when I'm on the bench I'll be pulling against my teammates."
For Monday night's press conference in Austin, there were more than 50 reporters in attendance, including some from Japan and Mexico.
Ryan senior said he hopes to go seven innings and get in about 100 pitches.
"Reid will start, but I don't know how long he will go," Ryan said.
Asked to give a scouting report on his son, Ryan said, "He can get it up to 88 or 89 miles an hour on the radar gun. I'd like to see a little more velocity on his fastball. But he has a good breaking ball and an outstanding changeup. It makes his fastball better."
Also, the senior Ryan said his son "has been around the game so he knows how to pitch. He's not as gifted as some, but his knowledge of pitching makes him more effective."
Ryan said his son is a much better pitcher than he was when he was 18.
"He's much farther along than I was at this stage as a pitcher," Ryan said. "I was blessed with more ability.
"Reid is going through a transition period. He is stepping up a big level in competition."
The idea of Ryan vs. Ryan began when Nolan visited Texas baseball coach Cliff Gustafson and the coach suggested the game.
"I didn't think we could get it worked out, but we did," Ryan said.