Friday, October 30, 2009
Nolan Ryan Record Breaker, Card #6
On July 16, 1977 Nolan Ryan fanned 12 Seattle Mariners en route to an Angel’s victory, it was the 98th time that Ryan had struck out 10 or more batters in a game in his career and this earned him a record breaker card. The previous record was held by Dodgers ace Sandy Koufax who whiffed 10 or more 97 times. This is the first of many pitching records that Ryan set in his career. He would go on to pitch for 16 more seasons and would also lead the league in strikeouts 6 more times. Once he broke Koufax’ record, he built on it and made it pretty much unbreakable. His final number of 10 K games after his retirement in 1993? He had 215 games with 10 or more Ks. That’s way more than double Koufax’ record, practically triple. Ryan did the bulk of his striking out in the American League, though. He had 148 10+K games for the Angels and the Rangers, but playing for the Mets and Astros he only reached the feat 67 times which means that Koufax is still the career leader in the NL. During his 27 year career Nolan Ryan struck out 5714 batters, good for first place all time and over 1,500 more than the guy in second place. In 1973 with the Angels Ryan struck out 383 batters to set a Major League Record which still stands 35 years later. With 24 in his career he holds the mark for most seasons with 100 or more Ks, with 15 he set the standard with most seasons at 200 plus and yes, he does hold the record for most seasons with 300 or more Ks with 6. He is tied with Randy Johnson for that last one. Those records aside, this card celebrates him breaking Koufax’ record for most games with 10 or more Ks. It is incredible that Ryan broke Koufax’ record, but more incredible that he broke it, doubled it and then got some more. In the end he bested the record by 118 games. In 1977 Sparky Lyle captured the AL Cy Young Award, but Ryan was named the Sporting News Pitcher of the Year. He was third in the league in wins with 19 and led the league with 341 Ks and 22 complete games while pitching 299 innings. He average 10.64 strikeouts per nine innings and led the league in that category, too. Ryan never won a Cy Young Award during his career and his SN Pitcher of the Year Award in 1977 was his only one. He finished in the top-5 in voting for Cy Young 6 times, but never took the prize. In 1973 he struck out a record 383 batters and won 21 games while completing 26 games, but Jim Palmer who had 220 fewer strikeouts took the honors. As far as the card goes, they did get a decent looking head on portrait of the guy, but why not have a pic of him doing what he did to break the record? A pic of him pitching, presumably striking someone out would have been much better. In 1990, at the age of 43 Ryan struck out 232 batters to lead the American League in that statistic for the 11th and final time. That year he went 13-9 with a 3.44 ERA. The year prior, he went to his final All Star game, struck out 301 and notched 16 wins, all at age 42. Ryan only topped 20 wins twice, he never won a Cy Young and he even led the league in losses one year, but he will forever be known as the most prolific strikeout pitcher of All Time. Ryan stands out even among the other record breakers for a lot of reasons, but most impressively, that he played 16 more seasons after breaking this record. Still, even with all of his records and amazing performances, when I think of Nolan Ryan, I still go right to him getting Robin Ventura in a headlock... Just one more record breaker to go. Go Baseball!!!