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The ‘mistake’ that led Clay Buchholz to Nolan Ryan

02.23.11 at 10:41 am ET

FORT MYERS, Fla. — Clay Buchholz can remember the day vividly that he met a fellow pitching great from the state of Texas. Actually, he met one of the greatest pitchers ever to hail from the Lone Star state.

Buchholz, who grew up in Lumberton, Tex., had just been dismissed from McNeese State’s baseball squad and transferred to Angelina Community College in 2005 after being arrested for stealing 29 computers from the Lumberton Intermediate School.

“It was a mistake,” he said years later. “But I think it helped me out in the long run.”

It was also fate. While at Angelina – posting a 12-1 record in 2005 – his team played Alvin College in Alvin, Tex., the home of one Nolan Ryan.

“Alvin is where he’s from and he helped out with their baseball team,” Buchholz recalled Wednesday, the day of his last side session before his 2011 spring debut Sunday. “We got to play them a couple of times so I met him though that.

“It was awesome. I was sort of starstruck so I don’t even remember what I said. It was just basically trying to speak so I didn’t waste any time and regret that I didn’t ask anything.”

Buchholz apparently was inspired as he went on to post a 1.05 ERA, with seven complete games and 129 strikeouts, all single-season records for Angelina, where the school’s motto appropriately is “A Good Place to Start.” He was named All-American and drafted as a supplemental first-rounder by the Red Sox the same year.

Would he be willing to coach or run a team some day like the current Rangers president?

“Probably not. I don’t think I’m that smart. I think I’d rather play for a while and see where that leads.”

Buchholz threw a no-hitter in his second big league start in Sept. 2007, just six shy of Ryan’s MLB record. Buchholz said Wednesday he hasn’t talked to him since got to big leagues.

“It’d be good. Obviously, he knows a lot about the game and is still a big fan of the game and it’s fun to talk to people who have been around the game his whole life and still don’t want to get away from it.”

Presented the chance again, Buchholz said he wouldn’t be as starstruck and manage to ask for advice.

“I could probably think of some things if I had to,” he said.

Read More: Alvin Community College, Angelina Community College, Boston Red Sox, Clay Buchholz
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