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#34

Mixing a little Texas lore with a lot of Texas heat, Nolan Ryan established himself as one of the greatest pitchers ever to pick up a baseball. The flamethrower from Alvin, Texas picked up his first career strikeout on Sept. 11, 1966 and didn't stop mowing the opposition down for 27 years. In a career that spanned four decades, the Ryan "Express" struck out 1,176 different players for a Major League-record 5,714 fannings.

Ryan ranks among the best in baseball history in nearly every pitching category and remains the all-time strikeout leader and the only pitcher to ever reach 5,000 strikeouts and 300 wins. Here's a look at some of his greatest milestones in baseball:

 

Nolan Ryan's Career Milestone

1947    
  January 31: Lynn Nolan Ryan, Jr. is born in Refugio, Texas.
1965    
  June 26: Signs with the New York Mets out of Alvin High School with scout Red Murff.
1966    
  September 11: Makes his Major League debut with the New York Mets as a 19-year-old, 
    recording his first career strikeout.
1967    
    Misses most of the year to fulfill military duties
1968    
  April 14: Picks up career win No. 1 with a 4-0 victory against Houston.
1971    
  December 10: Ryan is Traded from New York the California Angels.
1972    
  June 27: Smacks one of two career triples and scores the go-ahead run in a 3-1 win 
    over the Twins.
  July 9: Strikes out the side on nine pitches, becoming the only Major League pitcher
    in history to record the feat in both the National and American Leagues.
    Ryan also becomes the only AL pitcher to fan eight straight batters in the game.
     
    Eventually becomes the first right-hander since Bob Feller to strike out 300 or 
    more batters in a season.
1973    
  May 15: Tosses first of a Major League-record seven no-hitters against the Royals with a 
    3-0 win.
  July 15: Becomes just the fourth pitcher to record two no-hitters in a season, fanning 17
    Detroit batters and ending the game on a pop-fly by Norm Cash, who originally
    entered the batter's box with a wooden piano leg for a bat.
     
    Finishes the season with 383 strikeouts, surpassing Sandy Koufax's record by one.
1974    
  August 20: Ryan fans 19 batters for the third time of the season, downing 19 Tigers in 
    11 innings of a 1-0 loss.
  September 7:  In a 3-1 win over the White Sox, Ryan tosses a 100.8-mph pitch,
    the fastest ever officially recorded.
  September 28: In his final start of the season, records his third no-hitter against the Twins.
1975    
  August 23:

Earns his fourth no-hitter by fooling Bobby Grich with a change-up to end the game. 
The win is also Ryan's 100th.

1977    
    Finishes 19-16 with a 2.77 ERA and 341 strikeouts, earning The Sporting News 
    AL Pitcher of the Year.
1979    
    Ryan is named to his first All-Star game start as a member of the AL team.
  November 19:  
    Signs with the Houston Astros as a free agent, becoming the first million dollar 
    pitcher in baseball.
1980    
  April 12: Smashes first career home run off of Don Sutton.
  July 4: Strikes out the Reds' Cesar Geronimo for his 3,000th strikeout.
1981    
  September 26: Picks up his fifth no-hitter against the Dodgers.
     
    Leads the NL with a 1.69 ERA in a strike-shortened season.
1983    
  April 27: Surpasses Walter Johnson on the all-time strikeout list by fanning Montreal's 
    Brad Mills for his 3,509th fanning.
1985    
  July 11: Picks up strikeout No. 4,000 by striking out the Mets' Danny Heep.
1987    
    At 40-years-old, becomes the only pitcher to ever record 2,000 strikeouts in 
    both leagues.
1988    
  December 7: Signs with the Texas Rangers as a free agent.
1989    
  August 22: Uses a 96-mph fastball to fan Rickey Henderson for his 5,000th strikeout.
1990    
  June 11: Ryan picks up no-hitter No. 6 with a 5-0 win against Oakland. Becomes the oldest man in baseball history to record a no-hitter, breaking an 82-year-old
    record held by Cy Young.
  July 30: Becomes the 20th pitcher in history to reach 300 wins with an 11-3 victory over 
    Milwaukee.
1991    
  April 3: Ryan and his oldest son, Reid, pitch against each other as the Texas Rangers face
    the University of Texas. Reid, a 19-year-old freshman, allows four runs over two
    innings. The elder Ryan struck out seven in five innings of a 12-5 win.
  May 1: Picks up seventh and final no-hitter at the age of 44 with a 3-0 win over Toronto 
    at home.
1992    
  July 4: Tosses final complete game (171) at the age of 45, winning 4-1 against New York.
1993    
  September 22: Ryan throws 28 pitches before a torn ligament in his right elbow forces him from a
    game against the Mariners. The crowd at the Kingdome refuses to sit, offering a
    lengthy applause as Ryan exits in what becomes his final game.
1999    
  July 25: Ryan is Inducted into to the Hall of Fame in his first appearance on the ballot with
    98.8 percent of the vote. George Brett, Robin Yount and Orlando Cepeda are also
    part of the Class of 1999.
2008    
  February 6: Ryan is named president of the Texas Rangers. He was released from his contract  
    with Houston, where he served as a special assistant to the general manager 
    since leaving the Rangers in 2004.