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February 01, 2008

Nolan Ryan the comedian

Nolan Ryan was downright funny Thursday night at the YMCA's 50th anniversary celebration. From his skiing exploits to his wildness as a high schooler, Ryan had the Arlington Convention Center audience rolling. The funniest story was the one he told about a July 7, 1991, start against California. Durwood Merrill was the home plate umpire for that game and Ryan had developed a relationship with Merrill through the years. Ryan called down to the umpire's room before the game when he found out Merrill was calling the game and reminded Merrill that this could be the last time he called a Ryan start. Merrill worked with Ryan well. Ryan said Merrill was calling strikes a foot off the plate and the Angels were fuming. Ryan carried a no-hitter into the eighth inning before Dave Winfield singled to lead off. When Merrill came out to check the ball after the hit, he told Ryan "Dang Train, I thought we had them." Ryan said 'that's the kind of umpire I like.' Ryan finished that game with 8 1/3 innings of two-hit ball and 14 strikeouts. He was 44 at the time.

- Anthony Andro

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