There have been numerous amazing pitchers to play in the MLB, but few (if any) have the resume and longevity of the subject of this article. Nolan Ryan was an MLB pitcher for a record 27 years (1966, 1968-1993) and not only played for that long, but played well. His legacy and accolades are unmatched by many pitchers and he is still currently very involved in the world of baseball as he works as an adviser for the owner of the Houston Astros.
After graduating high school, Nolan Ryan was drafted by the New York Mets in the 12th round of the 1965 MLB Draft. Ryan played numerous positions throughout childhood, but decided on pitching by high school. After being called up in 1966, Ryan was actually forced to miss much of the 1967 season due to an injury and also because of his service within the Army Reserve.
But in 1968, Ryan would return to the MLB, where he would spend the next quarter century of his life. He would spend time with four teams throughout his career, making all-star teams while a member of three. He also achieved the goal of everyone who plays major league ball by winning the 1969 World Series title as a member of the New York Mets.
While his career winning percentage (.526) and ERA (3.19) aren’t insanely impressive, he is still seen among the best of all time for a few reasons such as his velocity on his pitches, strikeouts, longevity and his seemingly innate ability to throw no-hitters. We have already looked at his longevity (27 years in the MLB, in case you forgot) so now let’s take a close look at those other reasons why he is seen as one of the best and was a first ballot hall of famer. But one more crazy note on his longevity, he appeared in MLB games in four different decades and struck out seven pairs of fathers and sons.
His velocity was legendary on both fastballs and breaking balls. He would regularly hit over 100 mph on his pitches (in a time when this wasn’t as common as it is now) and this high velocity continued into his 40s. He also threw a MLB record 7 no-hitters throughout his career, and also threw an amazing 12 one-hitters. But the most legendary thing about his career was without a doubt his strikeouts. He led the league in strikeouts a record 11 times and has the MLB record for strikeouts with 5,714. His lead in this category is huge as the second place pitcher (Randy Johnson) is 839 back.
These accolades and stats were enough to not only garner him entry into the Hall of Fame, but also got his number retired by three different teams, which is the most by any player not named Jackie Robinson. Since retiring, Ryan has remained in baseball. As mentioned, he currently works with the Houston Astros, but is also a former CEO of the Texas Rangers.