Nolan Ryan drew big crowd in Irving at the 2012 Governor's North Texas Small Business Forum in Irving on Thursday.
A standing ovation greeted the baseball legend to the stage, and he began by talking about the Texas Rangers' win against the Los Angeles Angels on Wednesday night.
"I think the Angels thought they won about three or four different times," he said. "That's a good example of why you don't leave the game early."
Most of more than 300 attendees were involved with a small business. Ryan said that while much of his life revolved around baseball during his earlier years, he tried to prepare himself for life outside of the sport.
"Getting involved in the community and getting to know the business leaders in the community and trying to learn what you could paid big dividends for me," he said.
Don Williams, of the Greater Irving-Las Colinas Chamber of Commerce, said Ryan is a real-life example of success in small business.
"What he's bringing to the table is that he is a small-business owner also in the cattle industry," he said. "He started out and had various entrepreneurial roles while he was still a player."
Williams also said the focus of Thursday's event was to train small businesses to increase their revenues. An expo inside the Irving Convention Center was an example of the small businesses getting an opportunity to connect with larger companies, he said.
"It's very important, actually, meeting with large companies, because they can get to know about us," said small-business owner Shan Halamba. "We can work with them and introduce our products to them."
Texas Workforce Commission's Chairman Andres Alcantar said small business plays a huge role in the state's success.
"We're very pleased and fortunate in Texas to have added over 283,000 jobs over the past 12 months," he said.
Alcantar said much of that employment came from small-business owners who have been taking their ideas to the marketplace.
This is the first time that Irving has hosted this event.