Nolan Ryan meets with Astros owner Jim Crane

USA TODAY Sports

The pair's meeting only increases speculation that the Hall of Fame pitcher will join the team's front office.

Nolan Ryan met with Houston Astros owner Jim Crane and a number of other front office personnel on Tuesday, according to the Houston Chronicle's Jose de Jesus Ortiz.

Last week, Crane said that he wanted to talk with Ryan and gauge his interest in potentially joining the Astros organization. Ryan's eldest son, Reid, is currently the organization's president of business operations, and speculation has been swirling about the Hall of Fame pitcher's interest in joining the Astros after he resigned as CEO of the Texas Rangers last October.

Ryan presided over the Rangers' return to prominence after becoming the team's president in 2008 and remained a fixture in the club's front office throughout their runs to the World Series in 2010 and 2011. A part of the ownership group that rescued the franchise from bankruptcy in 2010, Ryan ultimately became the Rangers' CEO in spring training of 2011 before parting ways with the team in October 2013.

Asked about his potential interest in joining the Astros, Ryan on Jan. 17 said, "Everyone is making that assumption because of Reid being over there and the fact I played there longer than I did anywhere else. I was basically a Colt .45 and Astro fan and that's my hometown in a sense. I could see where that's the expectation."

For his part, Reid is on board if everyone else in Houston's front office can agree, as he told reporters last Friday, "If there's a fit here, really Jim [Crane] and Nolan need to talk at some time in the future. I'm all for it, Jeff [Lunhow, Astros general manager] is in favor of it."

Now that talks between Ryan and ownership have officially taken place, speculation that Ryan will soon join the Astros organization will undoubtedly continue.

The 27-year MLB veteran grew up in the Houston area and pitched eight seasons for the Astros, compiling 106 wins and a 3.13 ERA from 1980-1988. During his time with the club, the Astros made the playoffs on three occasions, in 1980, 1981, and 1986.

Given his overwhelming popularity in Houston, there is little doubt the Astros fan base would view Ryan's return as a welcome sight for a team that has gone through its fair share of tough times in recent seasons.

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