Nolan Ryan holds a very special place in my heart, surprisingly enough it has nothing to do with something he did on the mound during his Hall of Fame pitching career. In 1999 he led a group of investors that purchased the "AA" Jackson Generals and moved the minor league franchise to Central Texas, just minutes from my home. I have been a fan and supporter of the Round Rock Express for over a decade thanks to Nolan and his family.
When Nolan Ryan threw his final pitch on September 22, 1993 at the Seattle Kingdome, he concluded an amazing 27-year major league career in which he recorded a record 5,714 strikeouts while playing longer than anyone in major league history. Randy Johnson ranks #2 in career strikeouts... only 839 behind Nolan. He recorded 10-or-more strikeouts in a game 215 times and he fanned 19 batters four times, three of those in extra innings. In 1973 he struck out 383 American Leaguers, the most Ks in a single season since 1886.
He has 324 wins, including over 100 in each league. He surpassed the 20 win season mark twice during his career. He recorded a win in 31 of the 35 major league ballparks in which he pitched throughout his career.
As a major league pitcher Nolan is best known as the guy who threw a record 7 no-hitters, three more than the next closest pitcher, Sandy Koufax. He was the oldest pitcher to throw a no-hitter first on June 11th, 1990 at Oakland and then again on May 1, 1991 against the Toronto Blue Jays. Additionally, Nolan lost five no-hitters in the 9th inning and finished his career with an amazing 12 one-hitters, only matched by the great Bob Feller.
Most importantly he brought pride and dignity to the awesome Astros tequila sunrise uniforms.
1979 Topps Mike Hargrove
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