On this date in franchise history, the Texas Rangers retired Nolan Ryan’s No. 34 at The Ballpark in Arlington.
That moment came on September 15, 1996, three years after Ryan’s retirement from baseball after the 1993 season. It was the culmination of a four-day ‘Nolan Ryan Appreciation Weekend’ that saw a contingent of Rangers luminaries and his former teammates take part.
The ceremony was held after the game, a 6-2 Rangers loss to the Milwaukee Brewers. The vast majority of the 45,491 in attendance stuck around to honor Ryan, who had retired just three years earlier and, at that time, wasn’t even eligible for the Baseball Hall of Fame.
Surrounded by his family, Rangers management, and his fans, Ryan became the first Rangers player to have his number officially retired by the team. By that point, Ryan had already had his No. 30 retired by the California Angeles, which happened in 1992. Just a couple of weeks after the Rangers ceremony, the Houston Astros honored Ryan by retiring his No. 34 on September 29.
With the Rangers, Ryan nailed down his place in Cooperstown by hurling his sixth and seventh no-hitters, notching his 5,000th strikeout and claiming his 300th career win. Ryan’s career ended with a Major League-leading 5,714 career strikeouts and seven career no-hitters, along with the most games with 15 or more strikeouts (26), and the most strikeouts in a single season (383). Ryan played 27 seasons, the most of any Major League player.
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With the Rangers, Ryan went 51-39 with a 3.43 ERA and 939 strikeouts. But, beyond the stats he put up, Ryan gave the Rangers a legitimate superstar for the first time in its history, a known baseball name and was still pitching like he was in his prime, even though he was in his 40s by that point.
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