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Nolan Ryan, the Alvin Express
Hall of Fame Career: Nolan Ryan was selected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame by the Baseball Writers Association of America on January 5, 1999 in his first year of eligibility. Prior to the 1999 election, just 26 players had been selected to the Hall of Fame in their first year of eligibility, including seven pitchers. The last player so honored was Mike Schmidt in 1995 and the last pitcher was Steve Carlton in 1994. Prior to the 1999 election, there were 237 members of the Hall of Fame, including 178 former major league players, 23 pioneers/executives, 15 Negro Leaguers, 14 managers, and seven umpires.
He was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in ceremonies at Cooperstown, New York on Sunday, July 25.
When Nolan Ryan threw his final pitch on September 22, 1993, he concluded a 27-year major league career in which he had 5,714 strikeouts and seven no-hitters, the highest totals of any player in history. He won 324 games while playing longer than anyone in major league history.
Most Seasons Ever: Appeared in 27 seasons (1966, 1968-93), the most of any player in major league baseball history...Catcher Deacon McGuire (1884-88; 1890-1908; 1910; 1912) and pitcher Tommy John (1963-74; 1976-89) each saw action in 26 different campaigns...In professional team sports only Gordie Howe, who spent 32 years in the National Hockey League and World Hockey Association from 1946-72 and 1973-80, has played more seasons...George Blanda spent 26 years in the National and American Football Leagues.
Pitched in 1993 at 46 years of age, one of ten pitchers and 17 players overall to appear in a major league game at 46 years or older...Final major league service was 26 years, 101 days...Is one of 22 players in history to appear in a game in 4 decades...Pitched final game at 46 years, 7 months, 22 days, the Texas Rangers oldest player ever.
Honors: Received numerous honors and awards in his career...In 1990 received the 22nd annual Man of the Year Award from The Sporting News, Male Athlete of the Year honors from United Press International, and the United States Sports Academy/USA Today Pro Sportsman of the Year Award...Won the American League's Joe Cronin Award for significant achievement in 1973 and 1989, joining George Brett and Roger Clemens as the only 2-time recipients...Was elected to the Texas Baseball Hall of Fame in 1987 and to the Peter J. McGovern Little League Museum Hall of Excellence in 1991.
Among the Leaders: In addition to being the all-time strikeout leader, ranks among the lifetime major league leaders in walks (1st-2795), wild pitches (1st-277), games started (2nd-773, 45 behind Cy Young), losses (3rd-292), innings (5th-5386.0), shutouts (T7th-61), wins (T12th-324), ERA (19th-3.19) and appearances (21st-807)...Upon retirement was 1st among active pitchers in wins, losses, ERA, starts, complete games (222), shutouts, innings, walks and strikeouts...Holds outright or shares 48 Major League, American League and National League records.
Strikeouts: Averaged 9.55 strikeouts per 9 innings in his career, joining Randy Johnson (10.60) and Sandy Koufax (9.28) as only pitchers in history (1500-or-more innings) to average a strikeout an inning...Fanned 11.48 batters per nine innings (270 strikeouts/211.2 IP) in 1987, the highest figure in major league history until it was surpassed by Kerry Wood (12.58) and Johnson (12.12) in 1998...Is 1578 strikeouts ahead of 2nd place Steve Carlton on the all-time list, the largest percentage differential between 1st and 2nd in any major statistical category.
Recorded 10-or-more strikeouts in a game 215 times, a M.L. record (Johnson entered 1999 season with 102 in 2nd place and Koufax is 3rd with 98)...Fanned 19 batters four times, three of those in extra innings...His 19 strikeouts in a 9-inning game on August 12, 1974 vs. Boston was an A.L. record until Roger Clemens 20-strikeout performance in 1986...Fanned 10-or-more a record 23 times in 1973 and 26 games in his career of 15+ strikeouts, another M.L. mark...Struckout the side 331 times in his career.
Final game with 10+ strikeouts came on August 6, 1992 vs. Oakland (12), becoming oldest pitcher to ever have as many as 10 strikeouts in one game...Had six seasons of 300-or-more strikeouts and 15 years of 200-or-more strikeouts, both of which are M.L. records...Fanned 383 with California in 1973, the most ever in modern history, and owns five of the top nine single season marks since 1900.
Fanned a total of 1176 different players, including eight father and son combinations, 12 sets of brothers, and 27 members of Baseball's Hall of Fame (including the 1999 induction class).
Wins: His 324 wins tie Don Sutton for 12th place all-time and for the most victories by a righthanded pitcher who played since 1935...Is one of nine pitchers in history to defeat all 26 major league teams prior to 1993 expansion...Is one of seven pitchers with 100-or-more wins in both leagues...Recorded a win in 31 of the 35 major league ballparks in which he pitched, the exceptions being Forbes Field in Pittsburgh, Kansas City's Municipal Stadium, the Skydome in Toronto, and the new Comiskey Park in Chicago...Defeated 221 different pitchers...Won 10-or-more games 20 times (second-best in ML history), including 16 consecutive years from 1971-86...Topped the 20-win plateau twice, in 1973 (21) and 1974 (22) with the Angels.
Low-Hitters/No-Hitters: Pitched a major league record 7 no-hitters, three more than Koufax...Was the oldest pitcher to throw a no-hitter in each of his last two games (June 11, 1990 at Oakland and May 1, 1991 vs. Toronto)...Allowed one-or-fewer hits in a complete game 19 times, another record...His 12 one-hitters match Bob Feller for the most ever...Lost five no-hitters in the 9th inning.
All-Star Games and Post-Season: Was named to eight All-Star Teams and appeared in five games...Pitched two scoreless relief innings to win the 1989 game at Anaheim, becoming the oldest pitcher to ever win an All-Star Game and the 2nd-oldest to ever appear in one...Had 46 strikeouts in 4 League Championshp Series, tied with Jim Palmer for all-time lead at time of retirement (since passed by Atlanta's John Smoltz)...Won 3rd and deciding game of 1989 NLCS vs. Atlanta in relief, setting LCS record with 7 strikeouts in 7-inning stint...Saved Game Four of 1969 World Series vs. Baltimore...Started Game One of 1979 ALCS vs. Baltimore and fanned the first four batters faced, an ALCS record...Allowed 16 hits in two starts vs. Philadelphia in 1980 NLCS, an NLCS record for a five-game series...Started twice in 1986 NLCS against New York Mets, losing Game Two and allowing one run in a nine-innings no-decision in Game Five.
Retired Uniform Numbers: Is the only player in Major League history to have his uniform retired by three different teams...Became the first player in Texas Rangers history to have his uniform retired when his number 34 was placed on the facing of the upper home run porch at the Ballpark at Arlington on September 15, 1996...The Houston Astros retired the number 34 on September 29, 1996 at the Astrodome...The California Angels retired the number 30 Ryan wore with that club in an Anaheim Stadium ceremony on June 16, 1992.
Family: Nolan and his wife Ruth, were married on June 26, 1967 and have three children, Robert Reid (11/21/71), Nolan Reese (1/21/76) and Wendy Lynn (3/22/77)...Reid, who pitched at Texas Christian University in Fort Worth for two years (1994-95) and in the Texas Rangers minor league system, is President of the Round Rock Express, a minor league affiliate of the Houston Astros which will begin play in the 2000 season outside Austin, Texas in the Double A Texas League.