Nolan Ryan


Class of 1999

Nolan Ryan


Class of 1999
Nolan Ryan's legendary fastball left an indelible mark on the National Pastime.


Birth year

About Nolan Ryan

Two-time National League MVP Dale Murphy called Nolan Ryan “the only pitcher you start thinking about two days before you face him.”

Ryan’s career lasted a record-tying 27 seasons, and his fabled fastball never seemed to wane. When he retired, he had amassed 324 wins to go with all-time records for no-hitters (seven) and strikeouts (5,714).

Ryan’s career began with the Mets organization in the mid-1960s, and he helped New York win the 1969 World Series. But It was not until his trade to the California Angels following the 1971 season that Ryan began rewriting the record books.

In his first season with the Angels, Ryan won 19 games and struck out 329 batters. The next season, he set a new modern era single-season mark with 383 strikeouts while tossing the first two no-hitters of his career.

From 1972-77, Ryan averaged 19 wins and 322 strikeouts per year despite am injury-shortened 1975 season that saw him pitch only 198 innings. In 1979, Ryan won 16 games while helping the Angels win the American League West title for the first time in franchise history. He signed a record-setting free agent deal with the Astros following that year, returning to his hometown of Houston as the first million-dollar-a-year player in big league history.

Reggie Jackson, one of the most dominant sluggers of that generation, explained what it was like to face Ryan and his 100 mph fastball: “I love to bat against Nolan Ryan and I hate to bat against Nolan Ryan. It’s like ice cream. You may love it (facing a fastball), but you don’t want it shoveled down your throat by the gallon.”

The 1980s were a decade of milestones for Nolan Ryan as he passed Walter Johnson’s all-time strikeout mark, broke Sandy Koufax's major league record of four no-hitters with his fifth in 1981 and helped the Astros reach the postseason for the first three times in franchise history.

Ryan signed with the Rangers as a free agent following the 1988 season and became a national sensation by maintaining his power fastball into his 40s. He struck out 301 batters in 1989, the sixth time in his career he had reached the 300 mark. Up till that point in baseball history, all other modern era (post 1900) pitchers had totaled 16 such seasons.

If a pitcher began his career with a 300 strikeouts in his rookie season and matched that for each of the next 18 seasons, he would still be 14 strikeouts short of Ryan's all-time record.

Ryan authored his sixth no-hitter in 1990 and followed with his seventh a year later at the age of 44. He retired following the 1993 season with eight All-Star Game selections, 773 starts (second all-time to Cy Young) and the lowest hits-per-nine-innings-pitched ratio (6.56) of any pitcher in history.

Ryan was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1999.

The Basics

Year inducted
Birth Place
Refugio, Texas
Birth Year

Career at a Glance

Primary Team
LA/California Angels
Primary Position
Played For
New York Mets, 1966
New York Mets, 1968-1971
LA/California Angels, 1972-1979
Houston Astros, 1980-1988
Texas Rangers, 1989-1993

Career MLB Stats

Winning %
Games Started
Innings Pitched
Completed Games
Earned Runs

Nolan Ryan Stories

Explore the archives and go deep into the lives, careers, and stories of the Hall of Fame's honorees.

Brett, Ryan, Yount express mutual respect after first-ballot elections

Sixteen Ks send Ryan to the record books

Nolan Ryan becomes baseball’s first million dollar man

Ryan twirls second no-no of season

Nolan Ryan eclipses Walter Johnson’s strikeout record

Nolan Ryan pitches third no-hitter of his career

Nolan Ryan tosses his fourth no-hitter

Domination in the Dome: Nolan Ryan throws his fifth no-hitter

Niekro and Ryan both reach exclusive 3,000-strikeout club on America’s birthday

Ryan strikes out 19 for third time