By STEPHEN HAWKINS, Associated Press
ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) — Robin Ventura and Nolan Ryan spoke Friday for the first time since their infamous brawl 19 seasons ago.
Ryan, the Hall of Fame pitcher who is the Texas Rangers president, went to the visitors' clubhouse before the season opener at Rangers Ballpark to wish good luck to Ventura before his managerial debut for the Chicago White Sox.
"We just talked," Ventura said after Chicago's 3-2 loss to the two-time defending American League champion Rangers. "I congratulated him on the last couple of years. He's done a great job."
It was their first meeting since a hot August night at old Arlington Stadium in 1993 when Ventura, then a 26-year-old third baseman for the White Sox, charged the mound. Ryan, 20 years older and in the last year of his record 27-year playing career, got Ventura in a headlock and landed several blows.
"It was just one of those things and it kind of took a life of its own," Ryan said in the Rangers dugout about an hour before Friday's game.
Ryan said then that he hoped to see Ventura. Rangers spokesman John Blake said they visited before Ryan took part in some pregame festivities on the field and then took his customary front-row seat near the dugout for the game.
Video of that fight is still wildly popular at Rangers Ballpark, getting cheers every time it is shown.
The Rangers don't plan to show that video while the White Sox are in town this weekend, but fans took advantage of their opportunity to boo loudly when Ventura was introduced before the game.
Among the many famed photographs lining the hallway between the Texas clubhouse and manager Ron Washington's office is one of Ryan holding Ventura in the headlock. Ryan long ago signed the photo to the Rangers with the inscription: "Some wins are harder than others. Good Luck."
Ventura and Ryan have both insisted there was no animosity between them, and that they had just never crossed paths for a meeting before Friday.
"It's just nice to say hey, and congratulations," Ventura said. "It wasn't anything more than that."
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