Fan Has Nolan Ryan’s Chest X-Ray
CLEBURNE, Texas (AP) _ Autographed baseballs, bats and gloves aren’t enough for the serious Nolan Ryan collector. Avid collectors, like John Livingston, look for extraordinary memorabilia _ like a chest X-ray.
``It is one of my proudest possessions,″ Livingston says.
Livington’s home is a virtual shrine to Ryan. Closets and trunks are filled with hundreds of items, ranging from typical collectibles such as baseball cards, hats and jerseys to more unique things such as figurines, pocket knives and oil paintings.
He has some even more eccentric stuff, like eight metal press plates of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram from different highlights in Ryan’s career.
But it’s the X-ray that has drawn so much attention.
Livingston, a 65-year-old retiree from Santa Fe Railroad, keeps the black film in a plastic sleeve and brings it out only upon request.
It doesn’t look special, even when held up to the light. It looks like a normal chest X-ray, except for an identification label in the top left corner that reads ``Lynn Nolan Ryan″ and gives the pitcher’s birth date.
Livingston won’t say where he bought it or how much he paid, although he puts the price tag from $1 to $1,000.
The X-ray was taken at Arlington Memorial Hospital on July 3, 1991, after Ryan complained of chest pains. Hospital spokeswoman Suzy Lundquist refused to discuss whether Livington’s film is the real thing, saying the matter is being investigated. Medical records are private property and their release violates state and federal laws.
Although Livingston has been told he could cash in on the X-ray, he said he won’t sell it.
``No, nothing is for sale,″ Livingston said. ``This is the only one like it.″
While Livingston may be the only collector with a chest X-ray of Ryan, other collectors have X-rays of Ryan’s elbow and arm, according to Dennis Brent, editor of Nolan News, a magazine solely devoted to Ryan memorabilia.
It was Ryan’s right arm that made him famous. His seven no-hitters and 5,714 strikeouts are the most in major league history, making him a certain Hall of Famer when he becomes eligible in 1999.
Maybe that’s why Sherry Clawson, Ryan’s secretary, said her boss was surprised to hear someone had a picture of his chest, although he is well aware of the lengths some people will go for his memorabilia.
``The Nolan Ryan collectors try to collect everything that they can,″ Brent said.
Hard-core Ryan fans say they adore the hard-throwing Texan for more than his on-field accomplishments. They point to his aw-shucks attitude toward his success and his reputation as an upstanding citizen.
``He was always so nice to the children,″ Livingston said. ``He’s a good role model. He’s a good person.″
Livingston started collecting Ryan paraphernalia 10 years ago after purchasing baseball cards at a garage sale.
He then started making the hour drive to Arlington to attend as many Texas Rangers games as possible, and he began traveling the country to attend various memorabilia shows.
``The more you collect, the more you want,″ said Livingston, whose wife, Kay, joined him in the pursuit of all things Ryan until she felt they were running out of room to put it all.
Livingston would drive back to Arlington Stadium with Kay and their grade school-aged granddaughters the morning after Ryan would pitch in hopes of getting him to autograph items from their collection.
``You would hold whatever you had up to the (car) window and he would ask where you want it signed and he would sign it,″ Livingston said. ``It didn’t matter if it was 100 or 150 people, he would sign for all of them.″
But even Livingston has his limits. He said he’s not interested in having Ryan sign the X-ray.
``Out of respect,″ Livingston said, ``I wouldn’t approach him with it.″