Top 100 Angels: #7 Nolan Ryan

New York Mets

Nolan Ryan is number 7 in our Top 100 Angels 2020. The New York Mets drafted him out of high school in 1965 in the tenth round with the 295th pick overall. Ryan signed with the Mets and made his major league debut a year later in 1966. He pitched in two games that year and then missed most of 1967 due to illness, injury, and service in the Army Reserve. He pitched mostly in relief for the Mets from 1969 through 1971.

California Angels

The Mets traded Nolan Ryan to the California Angels on December 10, 1971. With the Angels, he was finally able to pitch as a starter. He stayed in Anaheim for eight seasons during which he threw four no hitters. In 1973 he set a major league record when he struck out 383 batters. In all, he went 138-121 as an Angel with a 3.07 ERA and a 1.29 WHIP. He issued 1,302 walks and struck out 2,416 batters in 2181 innings over 288 starts and 165 complete games. Nolan Ryan became a free agent after the 1979 season. The Angels retired his number (30) in 1992.

Houston Astros

On November 19, 1979 he signed with the Houston Astros for four years at $4.5 Million. In Houston, he hit his first of two career home runs off of Don Sutton, recorded his 3,000th strikeout, and threw his fifth no hitter. In all, he stayed with Houston for nine seasons compiling a 106-94 record in 282 starts. His ERA was 3.13, his WHIP was 1.20, and he issued 796 walks while striking out 1,866 batters. The Astros retired his number (34) in 1996.

Texas Rangers

Later, as a member of the Texas Rangers, Nolan Ryan held his own in one of the most famous fights in baseball history. August 4, 1993 Robin Ventura charged the mound but soon regretted his decision. The benches cleared. Robin Ventura was ejected from the game. Nolan Ryan stayed in the game and eventually picked up the win. Nolan Ryan recorded his 300th win while with the Rangers as well as throwing his sixth and seventh no hitters. In his five years with the Rangers he went 51-39 with a 3.43 ERA and a 1.12 WHIP. He issued 353 walks and struck out 939 batters over 129 starts. The Rangers retired his number (34) in 1996.

Nolan Ryan was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1999. It was his first year of eligibility and he got 98.79% of the vote. He is also in the Angels Hall of Fame, the Astros Hall of Fame, and the Rangers Hall of Fame. An eight time All Star, he was a World Series champion in 1969 with the Mets. He has 5,714 career strikeouts to go with his seven no hitters.

Public domain image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

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jco
Trusted Member
jco
3 years ago

I’m not quite old enough to remember Ryan actually pitching for the Angels (I was 4 when he signed with Houston), but I was around when he came back. I was lucky enough to go to his first game back facing the Angels in 1989 (remember that the 80s were pre-interleague and Houston was in the NL), as well as the game when the Halos retired the number. I still have my ticket stub from September 17, 1993 when Ryan pitched his last game in Anaheim and recorded the final 5 strikeouts of his career. He pitched one more game after that against Seattle, but sadly recorded no outs that day and gave up 5 runs in 0 IP.

max
Trusted Member
max
3 years ago
Reply to  jco

I went to both of those games at Anaheim stadium. I think he pitched in the first one and retired his number the next game and gave him a truck.

Designerguy
Super Member
3 years ago

Somewhere in a box I have an autographed Nolan Ryan ball. Was fortunate to see Ryan pitch many times, and I was there the night the Angels retired his uniform.

Many outings are seared in my memory. One that stands out I sat in the second row behind home plate against the Sux. That night I saw just how fast his fastball traveled (and the sound it made when it hit the catcher’s mitt). Plus, he didn’t get nearly enough credit for his curveball. The other was a MFY game. Ryan drilled Thurman Munson in the helmet with a fastball. Munson dropped like a bag of rocks.

Fansince1971
Legend
3 years ago

Saw him pitch a No-Hitter from behind home plate against the Twins on Sept 28, 1974. I scored the game. 15Ks and 8 walks. His last start of 1974. Ryan left it all out on the mound. Only about 10,000 of us at the Big-A that night.

FN: Ryan said he never shook off Catcher Tom Egan once in 158 pitches. For his part, Egan said “a brick wall wouldn’t have stopped his ol’ No. 1”. It was the sixth time of the season that Ryan fanned at least 15 in a game.

Last edited 3 years ago by Fansince1971
Fansince1971
Legend
3 years ago
Reply to  Charles Sutton

That ratio of 15K/8W is almost exactly consistent with his 2416K/1302W over his Angel career. I would take that any day.

Last edited 3 years ago by Fansince1971
FungoAle
Legend
3 years ago
Reply to  Fansince1971

That is just so reminiscent of my experiences at the Big A. When Ryan was scheduled to pitch, we knew there was not going to be a lot of balls in play due to his Ks and Walks. Crowd was sparse, perfect for the two-beer trick and getting great seats. He could really pop the glove and that was my measurement of hard hard a guy could throw as radar guns were not around in that time. You never saw him beg out of a game and back then there was nothing about pitch count malarkey. Big fan of Nolan Ryan and listening to Enberg and Drysdale call his games. Pitched for some bad Halo Teams otherwise his Win/Loss record would be much better. #BavasiUidiot

Last edited 3 years ago by FungoAle
Born_in_59
Member
3 years ago
Reply to  Fansince1971

I was at that game too, though my seat wasn’t near as good, lodge level third base side. If I remember correctly, the Twins only hit 5 or 6 balls out of the infield and only 2 of those were hit hard (left fielder John Balaz caught both). It was no lie when they said anytime Ryan took the mound, you could see a no-hitter. That game was also his 22nd win of the season, tying the club record.

Fansince1971
Legend
3 years ago
Reply to  Born_in_59

I started the game in much worse seats but with only 10,000 fans and ushers who didn’t care, my dad and I quickly made our way down to two seats directly behind the plate. I can still see the zeros on the scoreboard in the big A.