Nolan Ryan had a softer side. He just hid it (very) well.

Just as the Beatles did shortly before him, Nolan Ryan performed at Shea Stadium and sang on the Ed Sullivan Show.

The first is the famous and well-told part of Ryan’s life, the early days of his Hall of Fame career, which eventually fired the Ryan Express like rocket fuel. The latter, when he and the entire 1969 Mets’ World Series-winning roster sang “You Gotta Have Heart” to a national television audience, is a lesser-known and one of the many surprising parts of the new documentary, “Nolan’s Face,” that will surely make you smile.

“I thought it was the worst costume I’d ever seen,” said Reid Ryan, the oldest of Nolan and Ruth’s three children and the film’s executive producer. Reed laughed and added, “I’m not sure the mustard suit was ever worn. I know he can’t sing, but it was funny.”

Nolan Ryan said that while it might seem like he and his bandmates were lip-syncing, they were actually singing.

“We were all excited to be on this show and it was an honor to be a part of it,” Ryan said during a recent phone call. “But the highlight of the evening for me was that Eddie Arnold was there. I was a huge Eddie Arnold fan and that made the night special.

What’s fascinating and disarming about the film, which began streaming this week on multiple services, is the surprising humility Ryan exhibits. A Hall of Fame pitcher who still owns 51 major league hits — according to the film — Ryan has a legend that easily eclipses his native Texas, but to some of his on-screen co-stars, he’s just grandpa telling Corny. Jokes and who, yes, can’t sing. And he loves it.

Ryan received high praise in interviews with his fellow Hall of Famers. George Brett, Rod Carey and Dave Winfield are among those who uniquely offer the challenge described in the film’s title. Pete Rose too. After being reminded that Ryan finished second to Baltimore’s Jim Palmer in the 1973 American League Cy Young Award voting with a record 383 strikeouts — of course, Ryan also led the league with 162 walks that year — Carew reacts as if he understands. at first.

“You’ve got to be kidding me!” Carew exclaims when told Ryan has never won a Cy Young.

Brett says, “Nolan never won a Cy Young Award? I thought he won three, four, five.

It’s even more so today, considering that among the records he still holds are career hits (5,714) and career no-hitters (seven; Sandy Koufax is second with four). A standing ovation and star-studded performances echo throughout the film, of course, but it’s the insights of the family members that soak up the emotion and give director Bradley Jackson’s work a sense of humanity. The surprisingly solid backbone of the story is Ryan’s wife, Ruth.

“People say if you marry a baseball player, you marry baseball,” Ruth Ryan says in the film as she visits Nolan’s childhood home in Little Alvin, Texas, and checks on the progress of the tree he planted as a young man. “There is a lot of truth in that statement.”

They celebrated their 55th wedding anniversary last month, but after their second meeting in 1962, that milestone seemed as unlikely as Ryan’s eventual dominance after control problems plagued his early career.

It wasn’t exactly a romantic outing: He took her to Colt Stadium to see Koufax pitch.

“He wouldn’t talk to me,” Ruth said. “He wouldn’t get up.”

“We were sitting behind the plate with a bird’s eye view of Sandy Koufax,” Nolan explained.

Although he says he was initially annoyed when veteran pitcher and scout Red Murphy warned him that one day he would “have to share Nolan with the world,” Murphy’s prediction came true, and this film is just that story. With the generational fastball (“It sounded like bacon in a pan,” says Roger Clemens in the film), it was only a matter of time.

What wasn’t imminent was “Nolan’s Face,” which is essentially a video tribute to his wife and their three children and seven grandchildren, disguised as a baseball documentary.

“He said no,” Reid Ryan said. “My mother told me, ‘I’ve been with you all along, and you’re going to make this movie with me.’ Without him, this film would not have been made.

Nolan agrees.

“I’m not comfortable talking about what’s happened in my career and everything, so I really missed Bradley and them doing it,” he said. “But my kids just held me back. They felt it was something I had to do for my grandchildren, and Ruth felt the same way. So I finally agreed to do it. “

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