On June 10, 1990, the immortal Nolan Ryan pitched his unprecedented sixth no-hitter and defeated the Oakland Athletics. Ryan Retired future Yankees dynamo’s Ricky Henderson, Ken Phelps, and ex-Yankee Willie Randolph in order in the 9th. Nolan Ryan went on to pitch an impossible seventh no-hitter to break his own record, a record which stands today. He became the first to throw no-hitters on three different teams in three different decades.
Nolan Ryan, current President of the Texas Rangers, grew up in Texas and began pitching at the age of 7 and threw his first no-hitter in little league at age 9. What most people don’t know, Ryan also led his High School varsity team, while as a pitcher, with a .600 batting average. When naturally gifted ball players come to mind, we all regularly shifted our list of favorites from a young age. Mine were Babe Ruth, Josh Gibson, Ted Williams, Willie Mays, Sandy Koufax, Johnny Bench, Don Mattingly, Brooks Robinson and Nolan Ryan. I can’t even come up with a list now as there’s way too many to fill it. Nolan Ryan owned hitters throughout the 70,s 80’s and early 90’s. I used to dream I would face him and crack a tape-measure to straightaway center at Yankee Stadium. Ha, those were the days.
What Ryan accomplished as a pitcher, aside from throwing 7 no-hitter’s and regular fastballs clocked at 100 mph, while also lasting 3 decades, was set a bar for pitching that cannot be surpassed. By the time Ryan retired from the bump, he had an astonishing record! Ryan played in more seasons (27) than any other player in modern major league history. Ryan ranks first all-time in strikeouts (5,714), fewest hits allowed per nine innings (6.56), and no-hitters (7). He is also fifth in innings pitched (5,386), second in games started (773), seventh in shutouts (61) and is tied for 14th in wins (324). Ryan had 15 or more strikeouts in a game 27 times, second only to Randy Johnson, who has 29. Incredibly, in his 27-year career, Ryan never won a Cy Young award.
While it is undeniable that Ryan was a dominating force on the mound, it is also undeniable that his less than stellar record is also prevalent. Ryan also ranks high on the list for four "negative" records; he ranks first all-time in walks allowed (2,795), first in wild pitches (277), third in losses (292—most in the post-1920 live ball era), and ninth in hit batters (158). Ryan is also one of two pitchers in MLB history to give up ten grand slam home runs, including one to Dann Howitt, the next-to-last batter Ryan faced in his career. But I guess when you’re throwing in triple digits and you’re a power pitcher, you’re going to walk a lot, and hit a lot of batters. But as we see, Ryan did a pretty stellar job. Here’s to you Nolan Ryan.
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