On July 31, 1990, Nolan Ryan wins the 300th game of his career, throwing 7 2/3 strong innings with eight strikeouts to lead his Texas Rangers to an 11-3 victory over the Milwaukee Brewers.
Lynn Nolan Ryan, Jr. was born January 31, 1947, in Refugio, Texas and raised in Alvin, southeast of Houston. As a high school sophomore, he was scouted by Red Murff of the New York Mets. Ryan’s coach told Murff of the young pitcher’s intimidating fastballs, so powerful they had broken catchers’ bones. Murff was impressed: His report to the Mets said Ryan had the “best arm I’ve ever seen in my life.”
Ryan’s work ethic was the secret to his success. A believer in the theory that pitching power, as well as consistency and endurance, comes from the legs, not the arms, Ryan ran every day. In 1983, he broke the legendary Walter Johnson’s career strikeout record. His historic 300th victory came in his 24th season in the majors, his second with the Texas Rangers.
Ryan had failed in his first bid for a 300th win the week before, pitching at his home stadium in Arlington, Texas. His second attempt came against the Brewers in front of a friendly crowd in Milwaukee. Ryan improved as the game went on, and by the fifth inning, the Rangers had taken a 5-1 lead. Ryan rung up two strikeouts in the fifth, one in the sixth and two more in the seventh inning. With two outs in the eighth, a defensive error put two runners on base, but with a crowd of 55,000 rooting him on, Ryan once again summoned the fastball that had won him 299 previous games. The talented young Gary Sheffield popped-out on a 96 mile-per-hour fastball to end the inning. After the Rangers tacked on insurance runs and the bullpen closed it out for an 11-3 win, Ryan became the fourth-oldest 300-game winner in baseball history after Phil Neikro, Gaylord Perry and Early Wynn.
Nolan Ryan pitched for 27 years in the big leagues, with the Mets, Angels, Astros and Rangers. He struck out 5,714 batters in his career, breaking his own record 2,206 times. Nolan went 324-292 for his career, with a 3.19 career ERA. He was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1999.
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