Nolan Ryan eclipses Walter Johnson’s strikeout record
“I had to have the blister drained after the seventh inning,” said Ryan, “And I knew there was a good chance that I might not get a chance to pitch the ninth.”
Ten years prior, a Ryan fastball was clocked at 101 miles per hour, but time didn’t take too much of a toll on the Ryan Express: His fastball was still clocked at 98 mph.
He relied on that fastball in the eighth inning. Montreal Expos catcher Tim Blackwell swung and missed a 3-2 fastball delivered by Ryan to tie the record with the first out of the eighth.
“Everybody went nuts when he struck out Blackwell,” said Expo’s pinch hitter Brad Mills, who was up next following Blackwell. “But I had been in the tunnel for three innings, so I didn’t know where he was.”
Mills would soon find out as he pinch hit for second baseman Doug Flynn. Ryan took a commanding 1-2 lead in the count. Just as he had done all game, Ryan threw yet again another strike, except this time he froze the batter with a record breaking curveball for his 3,509th strikeout.
Although it was later discovered that Johnson’s strikeout total was one off, giving him 3,509, at this time 33 years ago Ryan was crowned the strikeout king.
Kevin Stiner was the spring 2011 Public Relations intern for the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum