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Nolan Ryan Fast Facts

CNN Editorial Research

(CNN) — Here’s a look at the life of Hall of Fame pitcher Nolan Ryan, nicknamed “Ryan Express.” He played for 27 seasons, won 324 games, and was on the All-Star Team eight times.


Birth date: January 31, 1947

Birth place: Refugio, Texas

Birth name: Lynn Nolan Ryan Jr.

Father: Lynn Nolan Ryan Sr., supervisor at Stanton Oil Company

Mother: Martha Lee (Hancock) Ryan, homemaker

Marriage: Ruth (Holdorff) Ryan (June 26, 1967-present)

Children: Wendy, Nolan “Reese” and Robert “Reid”

Military Service: US Army Reserves, 1967

Other Facts

Major League Baseball pitcher for 27 seasons, with the New York Mets, the California Angels, the Houston Astros and the Texas Rangers.

Ryan holds records for career strikeouts, 5,714, and career no-hitters, seven.

His uniform numbers have been retired by three different teams: the Angels, the Astros and the Rangers.

Ryan was known for soaking his fingers in pickle juice in order to treat and avoid getting blisters.

Co-owns two minor league baseball teams, the AAA-team Round Rock Express and the AA-team Corpus Christi Hooks.

Raises Beefmaster cattle in Texas. Beefmasters, bred to survive the summers of South Texas, are a three-way cross between Brahman, Hereford and Shorthorn breeds.

He and his wife, Ruth, were high school sweethearts.

Ryan played football in high school, until a “head-on collision with future NFL running back Norm Bulaich changed his mind.


June 1965 – Ryan is the 226th pick in the twelfth round of the MLB Amateur Draft by the New York Mets.

September 11, 1966 – Ryan’s major-league debut, at Shea Stadium, in the sixth inning against the Atlanta Braves. The Braves win 8-3.

1967 – Completes six months of basic training in the Army Reserves.

October 14, 1969 – Is the relief pitcher for Game Three of the World Series, shutting out the Baltimore Orioles to help the Mets break the series tie, to lead two games to one. The Mets go on to win the World Series four games to one, earning Ryan his only World Series Championship.

1970 – Buys his first ranch, in Gonzales, Texas.

December 10, 1971 – The Mets trade Ryan to the California Angels.

May 15, 1973 – Pitches his first career no-hitter, striking out 12 Kansas City Royals at Royals Stadium. The Angels win 3-0.

August 20, 1974 – Enters The Guinness Book of World Records with the fastest pitch, 100.9 mph, during a game between the Angels and the Detroit Tigers at Anaheim Stadium. The Tigers win 1-0. The record holds until September 24, 2010.

November 19, 1979 – As a free-agent, he signs a four-year, $4.5 million contract with the Houston Astros, making him the highest paid MLB player at the time.

April 27, 1983 – Earns his 3,509th strikeout to surpass Walter Johnson’s 1927 all-time strikeout record.

December 7, 1988 – As a free-agent, he signs with the Texas Rangers.

August 22, 1989 – Strikes out Rickey Henderson of the Oakland Athletics for his 5,000th strikeout.

1990 – The Nolan Ryan Foundation is formed.

May 1, 1991 – Throws his seventh and final no-hitter, an MLB record. The Rangers beat the Toronto Blue Jays 3-0 at Arlington Stadium.

September 22, 1993 – Pitches his last MLB game, Rangers at Seattle Mariners in the Kingdome. The Mariners win 7-4.

1994-2004 – Special assistant to the president of the Texas Rangers.

January 5, 1999 – In his first year of eligibility, Ryan is selected for induction into the National Baseball Hall of Fame by the Baseball Writers Association of America.

April 2000 – Undergoes emergency double bypass surgery.

May 2000 – Nolan Ryan Beef, the label for beef grown and sold on Ryan’s ranch, is first sold in Texas markets.

2004-2008 – Special assistant to the Astros General Manager Tim Purpura.

February 8, 2008-March 10, 2011 – President of the Texas Rangers.

August 2010-October 2013 – Part-owner of the Texas Rangers.

March 11, 2011-October 31, 2013 – President and CEO of the Texas Rangers.

February 11, 2014-November 2019 – Executive adviser for the Houston Astros.

May 2014 – His cookbook, “The Nolan Ryan Beef & Barbecue Cookbook: Recipes from a Texas Kitchen,” is published.

November 30, 2016 – Ryan, along with other retired MLB All-Stars including Barry Larkin and David Ortiz, announces the creation of Dugout Ventures, a private equity group focused on baseball-related brands and companies.

May 24, 2022 – Ryan’s documentary “Facing Nolan” premieres.

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