Nolan Ryan (1999)
Nolan Ryan pitched for twenty-seven years in the major leagues, starting with the New York Mets in 1966 and ending his career with the Texas Rangers in 1993. He started playing little league baseball at the age of nine. By the time he was eighteen, he was already in the Mets organization, having been drafted by them in 1965. He played in the minor leagues in his first year and pitched in just two games for the Mets in 1966. The next year he didn't play due to illness, injuries, and US Army reserve duty. In 1968, he was again with the Mets but primarily as a relief pitcher. Three years later, Ryan asked to be traded and in December of 1971, the Mets granted him his wish and traded him to the California Angels. The move turned out to be a good one for both the Angels and Ryan as he became part of their starting rotation.
In 1972, his first season with the Angels, Ryan led the American League in strikeouts with 329. The next year, he was again the league leader in strikeouts with a career high of 383. Ryan would go on to lead the American League in strikeouts seven more times (1974, 1976-1979, 1989, 1990).
After eight successful years with the Angels, Ryan became a free agent at the end of the 1979 season. He then signed with the Houston Astros and stayed with them for nine years. During his time with the Astros (1980-1988), Ryan led the National League twice in ERA (1981, 1987) and strikeouts (1987, 1988).
At the end of the 1988 season, Ryan signed with the Texas Rangers and pitched for them for the final five years of his career. In his first two seasons with the Rangers (1989, 1990), Ryan again led the American League in strikeouts.
Ryan holds the major league baseball record for most career no hitters with seven. He also holds the MLB record for most career strikeouts with 5,714.
Ryan has stayed very involved in baseball since retiring as a player. He is the owner of two minor league teams and president and partial owner of the Texas Rangers. In addition to his baseball enterprises, Ryan has co-authored six books, owns a restaurant, and was a member of the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission from 1995 through 2001.
Statistics for Ryan in 26 seasons (1968-1993) in the major leagues include:
- 15 seasons with over 200 strikeouts, with a high of 383 in 1973
- 8 seasons with an ERA under 3.00, with a low of 1.69 in 1981
Career statistics for Ryan include:
- 807 games played
- 5,387.0 innings pitched
- 324-292 win-loss record
- 5,714 strikeouts to 2,795 walks
- 3.19 ERA