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Monday, August 11, 2014

Nolan Ryan, Tom House and steroids.

Nolan Ryan could have been using steroids and other performance enhancing drugs (PED), not just late in his career, but also in the 1970s.  Tom House "estimated that six or seven pitchers per team were at least experimenting with steroids or human growth hormone".

Nolan Ryan: born: January 31, 1947 in Refugio, TX  5,386 innings 1966-1993

Tom House: born: April 29, 1947 in Seattle, WA  536 innings 1971-1978

Tom House was the Texas Rangers pitching coach 1985-1992.  Nolan Ryan was three months older and far more experienced and accomplished in pitching when he joined the Texas Rangers in 1989 at age 42.   What the heck could Tom House teach Nolan Ryan about pitching?

Ryan had already started his strike out (SO) comeback at age 40 by leading the National League in 1987 and 1988 in Houston.  Ryan led American League in 1989 and 1990 (age 43).  In 1991 Ryan led the AL in SO per 9 innings (SO9) at age 44.

Maybe Tom House just helped extend Ryan's comeback.  Some facts about Tom House:
- used steroids while pitching in the 1970s
- coached Ryan in Texas 1989-1992
- credited by Ryan in Ryan's 1999 Hall of Fame acceptance speech
- in 2005 admitted using steroids in the 1970s.

Tom House is also noted for:
- becoming a pitching coach guru with many videos
- catching Hank Aaron's record breaking 715th home run; House was Aaron's teammate (1971-1974) and caught it in the Braves bullpen; see:

Those 1973 Atlanta Braves: was there something in the water?  Tuesday, August 31, 2010

The great Hank Aaron hit 40 homers in 1973 in only 392 at bats at age 39. 1973 was Aaron's personal best in AB/HR: 9.8. Second best: age 37, 10.5 AB per HR. Aaron entered the 1973 season with 713 career home runs, one short of Babe Ruth's record. Aaron hit his career high for a single season at age 37, the same as Barry Bonds, in 1971 with 47 in only 495 at bats.


House became the pitching coach for the Texas Rangers in 1985, during which time he was notable for his work with Nolan Ryan. During Ryan's induction into the Baseball Hall of Fame on July 25, 1999, he credited House as a positive influence on his career, saying:

"While I was [with the Rangers] I was very fortunate to have a pitching coach by the name of Tom House. And Tom and I are of the same age and Tom is a coach that is always on the cutting edge. And I really enjoyed our association together and he would always come up with new training techniques that we would try and see how they would work in to my routine. And because of our friendship and Tom pushing me, I think I got in the best shape of my life during the years that I was with the Rangers."[5]

Former pitcher Tom House describes past steroid use  5/3/2005  usatoday.com

Former major league pitcher Tom House used steroids during his career and said performance-enhancing drugs were widespread in baseball in the 1960s and 1970s, the San Francisco Chronicle reported Tuesday...

... he and several teammates used amphetamines, human growth hormone and "whatever steroid" they could find in order to keep up with the competition.

"I pretty much popped everything cold turkey," House said. "We were doing steroids they wouldn't give to horses. That was the '60s, when nobody knew. The good thing is, we know now. There's a lot more research and understanding." ...

House, 58, estimated that six or seven pitchers per team were at least experimenting with steroids or human growth hormone. He said players talked about losing to opponents using more effective drugs.

"We didn't get beat, we got out-milligrammed," he said. "And when you found out what they were taking, you started taking them." ...

"I'd like to say we were smart, but we didn't know what was going on," he said. "We were at the tail end of a generation that wasn't afraid to ingest anything. As research showed up, guys stopped."

SABR bio:

Having surpassed 40, Ryan lost essentially no velocity on his fastball and still had the big breaking curve he had learned from Tom Morgan in California. In addition, as an Astro he added to his repertoire a more effective changeup taught him by former Cincinnati pitcher Joe Nuxhall; Ryan later put a circle change learned from scout Red Murff into the mix...

Going into Ryan’s final season in Houston, Pete Rose made a stronger statement: “At the age of 41, Nolan Ryan is the top power pitcher in the league. You can talk about Dwight Gooden, you can talk about Mike Scott, you can talk about whoever you want, but none of them throw as consistently hard as Ryan does.”

Ryan continued smoking pitches past hitters years after his contemporaries had retired thanks to a training regimen developed by Gene Coleman, Houston’s strength and conditioning adviser. Adhering to the doctor’s weightlifting, running, exercise, and stationary bicycling program, Ryan maintained the body of a man 20 years younger...

The game’s oldest player devised daily offseason workouts that lasted up to five hours. During the season, on nights he pitched, Ryan rode a stationary bicycle for at least 45 minutes after the game. Between starts, baseball’s bionic man spent more than two hours every day lifting weights, running, and biking. Rangers pitching coach Tom House said of his star pupil, “He’s still throwing hard because he does what it takes to prepare himself. He’s like the mailman. Nothing keeps him from making his rounds in the weight room.” ...

In February 2008, Ryan was named president of the Texas Rangers ...

The science behind the artistry of Nolan Ryan involved the full utilization of his body and mind, knowing when to accept instruction and when to follow his own instincts.

The SABR bio does not include the word steroid, not even to refute the idea that Ryan used PED.

Nolan Ryan, power pitcher into his 40s. Did he use steroids?  Saturday, August 9, 2014

Nolan Ryan: more on possible steroid use.  Tuesday, August 31, 2010

How come no one challenges Nolan Ryan? He played long enough to have used steroids. His longevity is suspicious. Jose Canseco has admitted using steriods during his MVP season of 1988. Ryan played from 1966 through 1993 (age 46). Ryan and Canseco were even teammates in Texas for 22 games in 1992 and for 60 games in 1993. Ryan's final seasons leading the league in strike outs were at the ages of 40, 41, 42, 43. His previous age as league strike out leader was 32. Ryan went seven years without being strike out king until he recovered the touch in 1987 at age 40. Ryan pitched a record seven no hitters at these ages: 26, 26, 27, 28, 34, 43, 44. This anecdotal evidence is completely ignored. Did Nolan Ryan use banned and/or illegal stuff to enhance his performance? I have no idea but I find it odd that the steroid zealots have such narrow vision.

Statistic Description: 9 x SO / IP For recent years, leaders need 1 IP per team game played; Minimum of 1000 IP
1975 Topps Tom House baseball card


RecoverRingJunkKeys Puget Sound Money Hound said...

Shame on you for accusing Nolan Ryan of steroid use on the basis that he knew a guy who used them. If I seen you and I was Nolan Ryan I would give you the Robin Ventura treatment for throwing my name out there because I had a great career.

Shan Oakley said...

I second the previous comment. You deserve the Robin Ventura treatment. This article borders on slander. Nolan Ryan is one of the classiest men ever, in the world of baseball. You are despicable.

Kenneth Matinale said...

You two morons should read the other posts referenced on Ryan.

1. I never actually stated that Ryan used steroids, just that there was plenty of anecdotal evidence.

2. Tom House stated that half the pitchers in the 1970s, including him, were experimenting with PED.

3. The Ventura reference shows that you are as unsportsmanlike as Ryan who beat nice-guy Ventura who took offense at Ryan's head hunting.

Nice photo. You both look like assholes.

Christian Camlin said...

Interesting info.Based on this I would almost have to say that it is possible that Nolan Used PED's .We can be fairly certain that he like all of the players from his era used greenies and other amphetamines.And though I would need more data to back it up there are 2 periods in his career where he affected a turn around so fast that it is hard not to wonder about him.His first season with the Angels he suddenly went from the hard throwing under achiever he was with the Mets to an all World pitcher with a 2.28 ERA and 300+ K's.You of course discuss his late career transformation.It certainly would tie up a lot of the loose ends surrounding his career.Stamina and longevity are not proofs of steroid use they were playing in an era when more than half the players in the game were willing to try anything if they thought it would work.Jim Bouton among others mentions this in his book Ball 4.It might have been him though I am not sure who said that if a player were given a pill and tpld it would make him 50% better but his life would be cut 20 years shorter the average ball player would take the pills and ask for more.Nolaqn's mention of Tom House in his Hall of Fame speech is suspicious to say the least.The words about being cutting edge and Training regimens sound coded to me.But we are dealing with a generation of people that worship Nolan Ryan.They not only see him as infallible but Believe Ryan was the best pitcher to ever pitch.Truth is Ryan was often not even the best pitcher on his own team.With the Mets Seaver was certainly a better pitcher.With the Astros both Don Sutton anbd J.R. Richard were better pitchers.Richard of course suffered that stroke which ended his career at it's peak entering his prime.Cetainly Carlton ,Palmer,Gaylord Perry,Greg Maddux,Tom Glavine and other were better at getting people out and winning games.But he is seen as Saint Nolan Ryan by many in this age.And they will be furious if you even imply that their idol is human in any way.With out time machines or an admission we will never know.But I wish those in the Hall who did use would admit it so we can go about adding guys like Clemens and Bonds to the Hall. Excellent post hope to read more.

Shan Oakley said...

It's good that you let your anger out, Mr. Matinale. Bully for you! It ain't healthy to hold in your anger. Now, are you still going to write slanderous articles? When Nolan Ryan pounded Ventura, Ryan was defending HIS mound. Ventura charged Ryan and got disciplined over it. All in all, pretty sporting of Ryan to teach the kid a lesson. By the way sir, you're a hell of a good writer. Oh, I expect you not to post this comment, it's probably damaging to your fragile ego. I do reiterate: You're a damn good writer, just hold off on slander.

Kenneth Matinale said...

My guess is that Ryan won't sue me for slander because of what might come out in discovery. But, please send him my posts and encourage him to do so.

Ventura is/was a nice guy. Ryan wasn't and probably isn't. You should read my current posts on HBP.

Movie Fan said...

I agree with you - Nolan Ryan is definitely not above suspicion. In many ways Ryan was a better pitcher in his 40s than he was throughout his 20s. He also didn't lose much velocity toward the end of his career despite having pitched over 5000 innings.

Take away the heat and Ryan would have been a very average pitcher, so it would not surprise me at all if he chose to juice himself up to stay strong and healthy, particularly as he got further and further into his career.

Buggy Helix said...

I've been saying this same thing for years. I believe N.Ryan is the player that Canseco references when he says that there is already a steroid user in the Hall of Fame. He was a known crony of Rodger Clemens who we all know used 'roids later in his career. Clemens knew powerful people and threatened Jose Canseco if he named him in his first book. Canseco passed two independent lie detector tests proving this. This could also be the reason for not just coming out and naming Ryan as the guy. Seeing as how Ryan had friends as powerful as presidents(G.W. Bush) Ryan's muscle mass in his mid-forties dwarfed what it was in his 30's! Also for the boneheads who think it was neat to see a 'roid-raging Nolan Ryan(who was a known bean-baller- a practice that has murdered people) beat up Ventura, you should see the fight in 1980 whin Dave Winfield absolutely rag-dolls your precious Nolan Ryan and beats his ass!

Icecreamforcrowtoo said...

He is not above suspicion, I agree. Almost no one is in Major League Baseball. But understand that circumstantial evidence is just that--circumstantial. But I do wonder, myself.

Steroids aside...

Ventura charged the mound. What was Ryan supposed to do? Stand there and let Ventura hit him? I don't care if Ventura is a "nice guy" or not, if he charges the mound like that and I'm standing on it, I'd do the exact same thing Ryan did. Good grief.

oldmanmoses said...

what the article doesn't say is that Ryan was one of the first to incorporate weights into his regimen. He was a regular workout partner of Tom House. Sorry, he was using something. It was not just morning workouts, especially with his diet. This is not a knock on Ryan but just a fact./ He had to keep his weight trainning a secret for a long time. He was a teamate and pupil of my favorite pitcher of all time Tom Seaver. But Seaver made the comment one night in the clubhouse to his teamates that you do whatever you have to, you find a way to get that extra 10 to 20 ft to hit a home run.

oldmanmoses said...

what nobody is understanding is that House and Ryan were workout partners each and every morning. Ryan was already well versed in weight training as well as House. This is not a knock on Ryan but where there is smoke there is fire. This was the era of greenies in the clubhouse by the bowel full. Everyone was trying different things. Ryan and House were close. His mentor Tom Seaver once said that you have to find a way somehow to get that extra 10 or 15ft to get the ball over the fence. That is a really strange statement. And Seaver is my all time favorite pitcher. Dont just dismiss the fact that Ryan was on. Its more probable then not. His body went to shit after he retired.

AndyM said...

Not sure that the speed of Ryan's fastball in his 40s is especially good "evidence." Contrary to what was posted by some here, Ryan still throwing in the high 90s represents losing between 5 to 10 mph vs his prime.

david craig said...

I also have long wondered about ryan. Aaron and gwynn are two others I am highly suspicious of due to late career surges

Kenneth Matinale said...

Those 1973 Atlanta Braves: was there something in the water? Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Home Run Proficiency: Aaron, Johnson, Evans 1973. Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Unknown said...

until it became a banned substance, no different than saying there''s anecdotal evidence he took uppers. why all of this is ultimately futile. if booze and hookers someday become banned substances, do we kick babe Ruth out the hof?

Joseph Scott said...

I think it's likely that any player who found out about peds were using them. they weren't banned, they weren't even illegal for years. this all works from the faulty premise that these guys made a conscious decision to cheat. ask yourself, if you found out there was medicine that was legal and allowed in your field that helped you do your job better, and there were as yet no heavily reported side effects, would you think of taking it as cheating?

Kenneth Matinale said...

Booze was banned in the 1920s, although I'm not sure about consumption. Definitely production and distribution.

Unknown said...

Excellent reply sir

Unknown said...

True amatures choose to sometimes cheat or try and get an unfair advantage so it's a no-brainer when it comes to a professional athlete who stands to make millions. Plus the average fan could care less about cheating, they want performances not possible without cheating.

C moore said...

Personally, I have questioned more than just Nolan.I guess the ones that I wonder the most about would be the teammates of the bash brothers, Dennis Eckersley, a washed up pitcher before coming to Oakland and the great Ricky Henderson. His career went on forever and he looked like Adonnis.

Unknown said...

I am a huge Nolan Ryan fan. I had his poster on my wall as a teen, and emulated his delivery. I do think it's highly possible that he used PEDs based upon many factors. The obvious ones are that he went from a bottom heavy 180 lbs IN HIS PRIME, to a low body fat 215-220 in his 40's. I'm now 43 and I have stayed consistently in the gym iver the years, and have a similar build to Ryan. Very similar actually. I have built myself up to 215 and fairly lean in my 20's, but it would be almost impossible in my 40's without having chronic joint problems. Pitchers can not have problems with their joints. Everything needs to be working perfectly to be as effective as Ryan was in his later years. I don't know what he took, probably some HGH and who knows what else, but his body was recovering on his off days while he was lifting weights, and spending hours doing cardio? Not without PEDs.

The ribin Ventura fight really wasn't much of a fight, and it looked like Ventura was winning when the swarm of people around messed it up. Ryan was a hero of mine but I can be objective. Can you? Nope.