Texas Rangers chief executive officer Nolan Ryan announced Thursday that he has resigned as CEO and sold his interest in the ballclub.
"I think everybody knows why we're here today and that is to announce that I am resigning as CEO of the Texas Rangers and I think this closes a chapter of my life in baseball and I feel like time for me to move on to other things," Ryan said. "It's been a decision that has weighed on me heavily, but I feel like it's the right decision and so, when you make these types of decisions you have to do it form the heart and I really feel like at this point and time it's the correct thing for me to do."
Ryan went on to thank both the fans and employees, many of whom he said have been around since he was a player with the team between 1989-1993.
The ballclub made the announcement about Ryan's retirement about 90 minutes before an unscheduled news conference Thursday afternoon, during which Ryan disclosed he'd also sold his interest in the team to co-owners Ray Davis and Bob Simpson.
Both Davis and Simpson, in their statements, said they urged the 66-year-old to reconsider his resignation and stay with the team -- where, among many, he is regarded as a legend.
"He'll always be part of this family. We're disappointed in a decision he's made, but we understand it. Now, we'll turn the page and wish him well for both he and his family and wish the Rangers well also," said Ray Davis, co-owner.
Ryan, showing little regret or emotion, repeatedly said he was at a point in his life when he wanted to spend time with his children and grandchildren and that leaving his position was something he'd been considering for some time.
"You don't just wake up one day and make a decision of this magnitude. It was something that I've been thinking of off and on for awhile now," said Ryan. "My grandkids, a couple of them, are getting to teenage age and it won't be that much longer and they'll be out of the house. I want to be able to enjoy and share some time with them and, uh, so I just felt that it probably made sense to do it now."
During a question-and-answer session following his announcement, Ryan was asked if he had any plans to work for any other baseball clubs, with specific mention of the Houston Astros where his son Reed is the president of the ballclub.
"I think there's a lot of speculation on that because of Reed's involvement in the Astros and my history with the Astros, but sitting here today that's not in my plans. I'm planning on going home and just kind of enjoy getting back out to the ranch and doing things that I haven't done for six years now," said Ryan.
Still, Ryan said the door may not be totally closed on his life in baseball.
"Will I be the CEO of another ballclub? No, I won't," Ryan said. "But I'm not going to sit here today and tell you that I don't know what a year from now might bring. This may be the final chapter of my baseball career. If there was something else I did it certainly won't be in the role here I've played with the Rangers I can tell you that."
Ryan went on to say that he has a good relationship with general manager Jon Daniels and that his decision to leave wasn't based on any speculation of inner turmoil between the two in the front office.
In a statement to Jeff Wilson, Texas Rangers beat writer for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Jon Daniels said of Ryan: "I specifically appreciate his passion for the game and the way he treats people in and out of the organization ... I've enjoyed my time working with and learning from Nolan. We've shared a lot of successes together."
Ryan's retirement will go into effect on Oct. 31.
Rangers fans say his absence will have a major affect on the franchise.
"I think he's the reason the Rangers have been successful and why teams now look at the Rangers and think, 'How are we going to beat these guys, because they're not a joke anymore?'" David Rogers said.
The Rangers have spent several million dollars on upgrades to the ballpark under Ryan's watch -- which also coincided with the longest sustained stretch of success on the field. The team has won at least 87 games in each of its past five seasons, something no other MLB franchise can claim.
Attendance at home games also spiked during Ryan's tenure in the front office, with a franchise record attendance set in 2012.
"Baseball and Arlington -- it's Nolan Ryan, the Rangers," fan George Dumas said.
Below is the prepared statement from the team on Ryan's retirement, in it's entirety:
Texas Rangers Chief Executive Officer Nolan Ryan today announced his retirement, effective October 31.
"This is the right time for me to step down from my role of overseeing the Rangers organization," said Ryan. "I am extremely proud of what this organization has accomplished. On the field, we have enjoyed great success at the major league level. The fans have supported us in record numbers the last two years and we have been able to upgrade the ballpark and enhance the in-game experience to reward that loyalty.
"We have a group of talented and passionate employees who have helped make this success possible. This organization is in good hands. I am leaving with a lot of great memories from my tenure here and I know the organization will continue to thrive in the years to come."
"Under Nolan's leadership and guidance over the last six years, the Rangers organization has made enormous strides both on and off the field," said Rangers Co-Chairmen Ray Davis and Bob Simpson. "Nolan has meant so much to this franchise and to our fans. We thank him for his many contributions, including his role in helping to develop one of the finest baseball operations staff in the game.
"Today we turn the page on what we believe is a very bright future for this organization. We wish Nolan all the best."
Ryan was named as the 10th President in Texas Rangers history in February 2008 and became Chief Executive Officer in March 2011. He has had a dramatic impact on the franchise in his six years on the job.
Over the last six years (2008-13), the Rangers have the fifth highest winning percentage in the major leagues at .551. The club has won at least 87 games in each of the last five years, including four consecutive 90-win seasons. The Rangers made the playoffs in three consecutive years and lost in a Wild Card Tiebreaker in 2013 after just three total postseason trips in the franchise's first 49 seasons.
Off the field, he has instilled a renewed commitment to providing the best fan experience and making the Rangers a strong community partner. The Rangers had the highest per-game attendance increase in the majors from 2008 to 2009 and the third largest increase from 2009 to 2010. The club surpassed the 3 million mark in home attendance for the first two seasons in club history in 2012-13, establishing a franchise record of 3,460,280 in 2012. This season, the club's home average of 38,759 per game was the second highest figure in the American League. The Rangers have also made major upgrades to Rangers Ballpark in Arlington under Ryan's watch.
In 2010, Ryan became the first National Baseball Hall of Fame player to advance to postseason play in the role as team President or General Manager since Stan Musial served as General Manager of the 1967 N.L. Champion St. Louis Cardinals. Ryan is also the first individual to serve as President of a World Series participant (2010 and 2011) and play in a World Series (1969 with the New York Mets) since Al Rosen, who played on World Series teams with the Cleveland Indians in 1948 and 1954 and was the President-General Manager of the N.L. Champion San Francisco Giants in 1989.
NBC 5's Ben Russell contributed to this report.