May 1, 1991 didn't seem like it would be an extraordinary day in the extraordinary pitching career of Nolan Ryan.
Actually, the day started off terribly. It was one of the days when the 44-year-old Rangers pitcher was feeling his age. His body ached everywhere. His back, his shoulder, his arm, even his head was hurting. He was popping pain killers all morning long.
Still, Ryan had a job to do, so he got up, headed to the ballpark, and began preparing for his start against the Toronto Blue Jays.
Ryan had still been a very effective pitcher well into his 40's. He had pitched over 200 innings every season since turning 40, had posted double digit win totals in all but one of those seasons, and even had a 300 strikeout season (1989).
But today was different. Today, Ryan was feeling his age.
He had no idea if he would be able to pitch at all, let alone pitch effectively. He sure didn't envision that he'd produce the greatest pitching performance ever by a pitcher 40 or older.
Ryan began his pre-game preparations by adding some extra stretching and popping more Advil. Nothing seemed to work. While warming up, Ryan even told pitching coach Tom House, "You'd better watch me good out there tonight."
All that feeling bad ended, however, when Ryan walked to the mound.
Ryan began feeling much better and overwhelmingly strong. He struck out Toronto's Devon White to leadoff the game. He struggled with the next two hitters, walking one, before finally getting Joe Carter to end the inning.
Ryan got better and better. He struck out the side in the second inning, getting John Olerud, Mark Whitten, and Glenallen Hill all looking at curveballs.
Texas scored their only three runs in the third inning, two on a Ruben Sierra home run, but it proved to be more than enough.
As each inning passed, the night grew more and more magical. In the fourth, Ryan struck out Blue Jays power hitter Joe Carter on a pitch that hit 96-MPH.
Despite Toronto's potent lineup, Ryan was now sitting down the Blue Jays' hitters with ease.
The sixth inning provided Ryan's only scare, as Manny Lee hit a blooper to center off the end of the bat. It looked like it will fall in for a hit, before Gary Pettis made a great shoe-string grab to preserve the no-no.
The seventh inning rolled around and Ryan was still putting up zero after zero on the scoreboard. Ryan was so master-full, he fanned at leats on batter in each inning, and had 13 in all.
Ryan continued his dominance into the ninth, getting two quick ground outs before facing all star second baseman Roberto Alomar. Alomar whiffed on Ryan's 122nd pitch. Game over. Ryan's seventh no-hitter.
All in all, Ryan totaled 16 strikeouts, the 26th time in his career that he would fan at least 15. It was also Ryan's 305th career win, and a record seventh (and final) no-hitter. The feat also broke the record Ryan set with his sixth no-hitter a year earlier, as the oldest pitcher to throw a no-hitter.
Always a class act, Ryan later admitted that this was the one no-hitter he really wanted.
His reasoning? It was at home, on Arlington Appreciation Night.