Nolan Ryan ("The Strikeout Express") Collector Plate 1993

Nolan Ryan (\"The Strikeout Express\") Collector Plate 1993

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Date Added: Sunday 30 March, 2008

by Paul Cunningham


Lynn Nolan Ryan, Jr. was born January 31, 1947, in Refugio, Texas; the youngest of six. He grew up playing Little League baseball, his father coaching, and later played in high school. It was there that a Mets scout saw him and signed him to play rookie ball in Virginia.

Nolan's flaming fastball caused many problems when he pitched; namely lack of control and painful blisters on his fingers which caused him to be skipped in the Mets' rotation. Soaking his fingers in pickle brine helped the blisters, carefulness helped the loss of control.

His first claim to fame was earning a save in the 1969 World Series, game 3, which the Mets eventually won. However the lack of control and too many walks led him to be traded to the California Angels in 1970 along with 3 other players for Jim Fregrosi.

Nolan's tenure with the Angels caused him to shine. he set the single-season strikeout record in 1973 with 383 and threw 4 no-hitters. Unfortunately the Angels were an incredibly mediocre team. In 1980, Nolan packed his bags to go back home to Texas, where he signed baseball's first $1 million contract with the Houston Astros.

Ryan kept it going in Houston, consistantly striking out 200+ batters and throwing his record 5th no-hitter in 1981. In 1987 he led the league in earned run average. Then in 1992 Nolan was asked to take a pay cut. His response -- sign with the Texas Rangers to put the perfect end to his amazing career.

With the Rangers, Nolan earned his 300th win, his 5000th strikeout, and no-hitters 6 and 7 -- all of which were unthinkable, especially for a man of his age. The 1992 season was full of injuries, as was 1993, and Ryan retired after playing for 27 years.

Nolan was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1999, his first year of eligibility, along with fellow first-timers George Brett and Robin Yount. His uniform numbers have already been retired by the Astros and Rangers (#34) and the Angels (#30). He has been elected to the California Angels Hall of Fame.

On January 5, 1999, Nolan Ryan, along with George Brett, Robin Yount, and Orlando Cepeda, was forever immortalized with his enshrinement into the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, NY. All three players were inducted on their first try.

Nolan received 98.79 percent of all votes cast, second all-time only to Tom Seaver's 98.84%. An article from the Hall of Fame read...

When you talk velocity, Nolan threw the hardest. Nolan threw it down the strike zone harder than any human being I ever saw. In 1973 against the Red Sox, Nolan threw a pitch a little up and over my left shoulder. I reached up for it and Nolan's pitch tore a hole in the webbing of my glove and hit the backstop at Fenway Park.
- Jeff Torborg, former California Angels catcher

Those were the best pitches I ever heard.
- Mickey Stanley, former Detroit Tigers outfielder

For most of Nolan Ryan's extraordinary career, the fireballing Texan defined the term "power pitcher." Ryan holds numerous Major League pitching records, including most strikeouts (5,714), most no-hitters (7), most complete games with one hit or less (19), most 300 strikeout seasons (6), most 200 strikeout seasons (15), most 100 strikeout seasons (24), most games with 15 or more strikeouts (26), most games with 10 or more strikeouts (215), and most strikeouts in a single season (383). The "Ryan Express" never showed signs of slowing down and became the only pitcher to strike out 16 or more batters after the age of 40, accomplishing the feat three times. Ryan was the first big-leaguer to strike out nineteen men in a nine-inning game (August 12, 1974) and still holds the modern Major League record for most strikeouts in three straight games with 47. Taking the mound for five seasons with the Mets, eight with the Angels, nine with the Astros, and a final five with the Rangers, Ryan's 27 Major League seasons are the most played by anyone in baseball history. Only Hall of Famer Cy Young has started more games (815) than Ryan's total of 773. He finished fifth on the all-time innings-pitched list (5,387) and is tied for 12th with most career wins (324). The flame-thrower struck out an average of 9.55 batters per nine innings pitched: the highest ratio among any pitcher with 1,500 or more innings pitched. Over his illustrious career, the stingy Ryan allowed opposing batters a meager .204 batting mark and yielded a record-low average of 6.55 hits per nine innings pitched. In the BBWAA Hall of Fame election of 1999, Ryan's 491 votes constituted 98.79 percent of all ballots cast, the second best percentage in Hall of Fame voting history behind Tom Seaver (98.84%).

__________THE STIKEOUT KING__________

It started with Pat Jarvis on Sept 11, 1966. It ended with Greg Myers on Sept 17, 1993. All in all, Nolan is responsible for 5,714 strikeouts - more than any other player in the history of the game.

Here are some of Nolan's more interesting strikeout statistics...

Milestone Strikeouts

#1 Pat Jarvis (September 11, 1966 vs. Atlanta Braves)
#100 Denny LeMaster (June 18, 1968 vs. Houston Astros)
#500 Charlie Manuel (April 18, 1972 vs. Minnesota Twins)
#1000 Sal Bando (July 3, 1973 vs. Oakland A's)
#1500 Sandy Alomar (August 25, 1974 vs. New York Yankees)
#2000 Ron LeFlore (August 31, 1976 vs. Detroit Tigers)
#2500 Buddy Bell (May 12, 1978 vs. Cleveland Indians)
#3000 Cesar Geronimo (July 4, 1980 vs. Cincinnati Reds)
#3500 Andre Dawson (April 17, 1983 vs. Montreal Expos)
#3509* Brad Mills (April 27, 1983 vs. Montreal Expos)
#4000 Danny Heep (July 11, 1985 vs. New York Mets)
#4500 Mike Aldrete (September 9, 1987 vs. San Francisco Giants)
#5000 Ricky Henderson (August 22, 1989 vs. Oakland A's)
#5500 Tino Martinez (September 30, 1991 vs. Seattle Mariners)
#5714** Greg Myers (September 17, 1993 vs. California Angels)
* breaks Walter Johnson's all time mark
** final strikeout
Fifteen or more strikeouts (as of 1993)
39 Claudell Washington
31 Fred Patek
30 Jorge Orta
29 Larry Hisle
29 Rod Carew
27 Amos Otis
26 Chili Davis
26 Andre Dawson
24 Al Bumbry
24 Carlton Fisk
23 Dale Murphy
23 Darrell Porter
23 Dave Parker
23 Juan Samuel
22 Reggie Jackson
22 Graig Nettles
22 Ron LeFlore
22 Bill North
21 John Briggs
21 Rico Petrocelli
21 Jeffery Leonard
20 Cecil Cooper
20 Roy Smalley
20 Terry Kennedy
20 Ron Oester
20 Frank White
19 Glenn Hubbard
19 Jim Rice
19 John Mayberry
18 George Brett
18 Tim Raines
18 Chet Lemon
18 Ben Oglivie
18 Dave Duncan
18 Ken Henderson
17 Hal McRae
17 Pat Kelly
17 Rick Miller
17 Steve Braun
17 Chris Chambliss
17 Ruppert Jones
17 Dwight Evans
16 Robin Yount
16 Nick Esasky
16 Pedro Guerrero
16 Aurelio Rodriguez
16 Dave Collins
16 Bert Campaneris
16 George Scott
16 Gene Tenace
16 Carlos May
16 Lance Parrish
16 Ken Singleton
16 Alex Johnson
16 Mookie Wilson
15 Mike Schmidt
15 Bill Stein
15 Darryl Strawberry
15 Willie Horton
15 Eric Davis
15 Mark Belanger
15 Hubie Brooks
15 Willie Wilson

Father & Son Strikeout Victims

Sandy Sr & Roberto/Sandy Jr Alomar
Bobby & Barry Bonds
Tito & Terry Francona
Ken Sr & Ken Jr Griffey
Hal & Brian McRae
Dick Sr & Dick Jr Schofield
Maury & Bump Wills

"I can remember my years with the Mets, just hoping that I'd get four years in so I'd qualify for my pension. That was my goal. Then, after I did that, I thought maybe I could hang on long enough to get ten years in."

- Nolan Ryan

"Going to the California Angels was a fresh start for me, and my experience there would totally turn around my career. The encouraging thing about it all was that I was made to feel wanted right from the beginning."

- Nolan Ryan, on joining the California Angels

"I always thought I'd retire as an Angel. The longer I was there, the more comfortable I got with the idea that they would never trade me and I would never leave as a free agent...if (Angels GM) Buzzie Bavasi had given me what I asked for, he would have had a bargain, and I'd probably still be pitching for the Angels."

- Nolan Ryan, on his years with the California Angels

"Put the right pitching mechanics together with good health, and there's nothing surprising about lasting a long time."

- Nolan Ryan

"I was concerned with my back problems and I said, "Well, I'll just go seven innings. Then I got through seven and decided I'm not going to give in to it because I just needed six more outs. This no-hitter comes so late in my career that it makes it very special."

- Nolan Ryan, on his sixth no-hitter

"...I've gotten a lot of satisfaction out of what I've accomplished here late in my career."

- Nolan Ryan, shortly after his 300th win

"Ryan's the only guy to put fear in me. You just hoped to mix in a walk so you could have a good night and go 0-for-3."

- Reggie Jackson

"When my career is over, and I sit down at the gas station or wherever, and people ask me, 'What was one of your biggest moments?' I'll say, 'Facing Nolan Ryan.'"

- Glenn Wilson

"I was looking for a fastball. Ryan threw a curve and I got vapor-locked."

- Brad Mills, Ryan's 3,509 strikeout victim, which pushed him past Walter Johnson for the all-time strikeout record

"Nolan knows he has perfect mechanics. It makes no difference that he doesn't understand the mechanics. He lucked into throwing the ball right. It came naturally to him. If he had been taught, he probably wouldn't do it right."

- Dr. Mike Marshall, former Major League pitcher

Rating: 5 of 5 Stars! [5 of 5 Stars!]

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