DeMeco Ryans delivered a strike, making an accurate toss to home plate Monday night at Minute Maid Park.
Before the Texans’ first-year coach, former Pro Bowl linebacker and team captain recaptured his high school baseball catcher days with the ceremonial first pitch at the Astros’ game against the Chicago Cubs, he soaked up the winning atmosphere surrounding the reigning World Series champions.
“The Astros’ run, it’s been amazing, they’re always there at the end, they’re champions,” Ryans said. “They have a championship atmosphere. It’s what we want to bring on the football side. Astros are doing it. So, for us, for the Texans, it’s the kind of atmosphere we want to bring. We want to mimic what the Astros are doing.
“That’s why I’m here: to bring home a winner. Hopefully, I can get some of that vibe while I’m here. That’s why I’m here. I want to bring Houston a winner. That’s why I chose to be here with the Texans.”
The presence of Ryans has galvanized the fan base, even before the Texans have had a full-team practice.
Hired in January and signed to a six-year lucrative contract, Ryans, 38, has created a ton of buzz after the Texans went 11-38-1 over the past three seasons. Drafting quarterback C.J. Stroud and defensive end Will Anderson Jr. has only increased the enthusiasm.
“It was like coming home,” said Ryans, a former NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year. “It’s been fun. It’s been a warm welcome from the city. It’s been a lot of energy. Fans are fired up. I’m fired up. Our team, the guys are fired up. We’re excited to get started. We’re very thankful for the support we get all throughout the city.
“We’re just looking to come out and put on for the city. This is another opportunity to connect with the fans in a different way. This is very exciting. No pressure, no game. This is a lot more easy to connect with the fans. My son, he told me make sure I follow through just like playing catch.”
For Ryans, the winning example set by Astros manager Dusty Baker is significant. He hopes to follow in his footsteps and build a winner with the Texans.
“It’s everything,” Ryans said. “To have that support from Dusty, it means a lot. I will definitely follow the advice. He’s done it a high level for a very long time. I’ve looked up to him, proud of what he’s done.”
Ryans grew up a baseball fan, especially Bo Jackson.
“This is very cool,” Ryans said. “I grew up a big baseball fan, so to have the opportunity to throw out the first pitch, it’s a huge honor and I’m thankful and happy to have this opportunity.”
Texans promote Tom Hayden
By Aaron Wilson
The Texans have promoted personnel department executive Tom Hayden to director of scouting operations.
Hayden was previously the Texans’ college scouting coordinator.
Hayden was hired in 2018 during the tenure of former coach Bill O’Brien and former general manager Brian Gaine, replacing former college scouting coordinator Matt Jansen.
A former University of Pennsylvania football player and Morgan Stanley intern, Hayden was a scouting assistant with the Philadelphia Eagles before being hired by the Texans. He played fullback in college.
Aaron Wilson is a contributor to Sports Talk 790.