Nolan Ryan was a Major League Baseball player and previous CEO of the Texas Rangers. During his 27-year MLB career, Ryan Nolan had 300 wins, 5,714 strikeouts, and seven no-hitters. After his pitching career with the New York Mets, Houston Astros, Texas Rangers, and California Angels, he later became president and CEO of the Texas Rangers. In 1999, Nolan Ryan was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame.
Nolan Ryan or Lynn Nolan Ryan Jr. was born in Refugio, Texas, on January 31, 1947. Six weeks after Ryan’s youngest sibling was born, they moved to Alvin, Texas, a quiet neighborhood on Houston’s outskirts. Nolan Ryan developed a love for ranching and hunting as a child. During that time, he also woke up early to deliver copies of The Houston Post.
Aside from hunting and ranching, Nolan Ryan also developed a love for baseball at a young age. When he was nine, he played at the Alvin Little League, where he showed his potential by throwing a no-hitter and making it to two All-Star teams. When he was in high school, he joined the varsity team at Alvin High School, where he showcased his unusual arm strength. Nolan had a sizzling fastball that caught the attention of Red Murff, a New York Mets scout. That is why they chose Ryan during the 12th round of the Major League Baseball amateur draft in 1965.
Nolan Ryan started his professional career with the Appalachian Rookie League in Marion, Virginia. He wowed the organization his excellent skills to the point that they allowed him to appear in two games with the Major League team in 1966. However, in 1967, Nolan Ryan failed to make any significant progress because he served a six-month Army Reserve obligation.
The following year, Ryan was back in the Majors for good, where he managed to post a solid 3.09 ERA. In 1969, he helped the Mets beat the heavily favored Baltimore Orioles with his exceptional relief pitching in Game 3 of the World Series. His fastball skills were so astounding that he was nicknamed the “Ryan Express” by the New York media.
However, despite his overwhelming potential, Nolan Ryan still struggled to command his pitches, that is why in 1971, the New York Mets traded him to the California Angels. The trade proved to be a career-changing move for the Nolan Ryan because, in 1972, he managed to record a 2.28 ERA, 19 wins, and an eye-opening 329 strikeouts. The following year, Ryan managed to throw two no-hitters and finished with an MLB record of 383 strikeouts.
After the 1979 season, Nolan Ryan decided to sign a contract with the Houston Astros, which made him the first MLB player to earn more than a million dollars annually. In 1983, Ryan managed to wipe another famous name out of the baseball record books once again by having a career strikeout No. 3,509, which surpassed the total of Walter Johnson.
The passing years seemed to have no effect on Nolan Ryan’s blazing fastball skills. In fact, at the age of 40, he still led the National League with 270 strikeouts and a 2.76 ERA.
After his career with the Houston Astros, Ryan signed with the Texas Rangers, where he topped 300 strikeouts for the sixth time during the 1989 season. A year after that, he managed to throw another no-hitter and became the 20th pitcher to reach 300 career wins.
In 1993, Ryan’s arm finally gave out, and it marked the conclusion of one of Major League Baseball’s most iconic careers. Just like other no-hitters, Nolan Ryan achieved 12 one-hitters and 5,714 strikeouts. He also finished with a career record of 2,795 walks, nearly 1,000 more than any other players.
Today, Nolan Ryan is known for his overpowering fastball and remarkable longevity. He had such an iconic career that he became the only player in Major League Baseball to have his uniform retired by three different teams.
After his pitching career, Nolan Ryan remained active in the sport. He became a special assistant to the Houston Astros and Texas Rangers, and he even co-founded an ownership group that bought two minor league teams. In 2008, Ryan was elected as the president of the Rangers, and he held the position of the team’s CEO from 2011 to 2013. The following year, Ryan returned to being Astros’ special assistant.