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Ryan holds court on Lone Star Series

Ryan speaks on Lone Star Series

ARLINGTON -- When Nolan Ryan talks about the Texas Rangers and the Houston Astros, people stop and listen.

The native Texan has a unique perspective on the Lone Star Series, having played and worked for both teams -- and it doesn't hurt that he's the state's most legendary player.

In his new capacity as Rangers team president, he has some strong opinions on the Interleague series, from the dates the Astros and Rangers play each other to what the rivalry means to both teams.

For one thing, he doesn't like that the teams meet for the first time in the middle of May. He'd rather see the Battle for the Silver Boot begin in June or July. He said it's something that should be expressed at owners' meetings.

"There's a lot if interest outside of the metroplex areas, and there are people who would come and see both teams they follow," Ryan said before Friday's series opener at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington. "But with school going on, they can't do that."

Ryan said the Battle for the Silver Boot is a good series, but said fan interest will pick up more when both teams are contenders. The state's two Major League teams have made the playoffs in the same season only twice, in 1998 and '99. They didn't meet in Interleague Play in either of those seasons. The Lone Star Series started in 2001.

Ryan emphasized several times that there are fans in East Texas and Central Texas that follow both teams, with interest fluctuating on how well the teams are doing. The Astros have been the stronger franchise of late, making the playoffs three times this decade, and becoming the first Texas team to reach the World Series in 2005.

Ryan did say there is a need to try and reach out to those fans and pull them toward the Rangers.

"There's an interest level there," said Ryan, who was a special assistant to the general manager for the Astros the last four seasons. "It's not as much a rivalry as the Mets and Yankees, or the White Sox and Cubs. But there is interest in the entire state."

Todd Wills is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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