Collection of Nolan Ryan memorabilia donated to Stockton University

It’s hard to imagine Major League Baseball without Hall of Famer Nolan Ryan.

The flamethrower, whose career spanned 27 years from 1966 to 1993, remains the Major League career leader in strikeouts (5,714) and no-hitters (7).

Ryan pitched with four teams during his career, including the New York Mets and Houston Astros. After retiring, he served as CEO of the Texas Rangers, a team he also played for.

He was also the first pitcher to officially record a throw over 100 mph and the first to earn a $1 million salary.

Stockton President Harvey Kesselman, left, with Leo S. Ullman as Ullman signs an agreement to donate his collection of Nolan Ryan memorabilia to the university. The collection of nearly 15,000 pieces will be part of a future course at the university. (Photo credit: University of Stockton)

Stockton President Harvey Kesselman, left, with Leo S. Ullman as Ullman signs an agreement to donate his collection of Nolan Ryan memorabilia to the university. The collection of nearly 15,000 pieces will be part of a future course at the university. (Photo credit: University of Stockton)

A huge Nolan Ryan fan is none other than Leo S. Ullman, the 83-year-old real estate investor and former owner of Shore Mall in Egg Harbor Township. For nearly three decades, Ullman amassed one of the most extraordinary memorabilia collections of all time, with nearly 15,000 individual items. These items were recently valued at over $1 million.

Ullman said his collection started as “pure happenstance” as he awaited the birth of his grandson. Seeking to kill time, Ullman stopped by a card show at a motel near the hospital. It was there that he made his first Nolan Ryan purchases – a dozen Nolan Ryan cards for $1 each.

And now these objects belong to the University of Stockton.

Why Stockton?

Ullman recently donated his collection to Stockton University and now the school is developing a class on collecting with an exhibition as a goal for the spring 2023 semester.

“Stockton is thrilled to become the new home to Leo’s vast and unique collection of Nolan Ryan memorabilia,” said Leamor Kahanov, Stockton provost and vice president of academic affairs.

Ullman has ties to the school that go back many years. He and his wife funded the creation of the Schimmel and Hoogenboom Righteous Remembrance Room at the university’s Sara & Sam Schoffer Holocaust Resource Center, which honors those who sheltered and protected Ullman and his family during the Holocaust.

Leo S. Ullman, left, with Stockton President Harvey Kesselman (Photo credit: University of Stockton)

Leo S. Ullman, left, with Stockton President Harvey Kesselman (Photo credit: University of Stockton)

The collection

The Nolan Ryan collection, considered the largest of its kind in the world, includes more than 8,500 baseball cards, of which approximately 3,000 are hand-signed.

Other Ryan items in Ullman’s collection include a watercolor of Ryan by Dick Perez of Perez-Steele Galleries that was used at Ryan’s 1999 Hall of Fame induction ceremony, yearbooks of high school, signed cowboy boots, a full-size leather saddle with Ryan’s likeness, hand-painted baseballs by American pop artist Charles Fazzino and signed by Nolan, and more.

A new documentary called “Facing Nolan” will be available on streaming services on July 19.

Jen Ursillo is a reporter and anchor for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach her at jennifer.ursillo@townsquaremedia.com

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