On this date in Texas Rangers history, Nolan Ryan recorded the final strikeout of his career.
That moment came on September 17, 1993, when the Rangers faced the California Angels. It would turn out to be Ryan’s final start at his former home, what was then Anaheim Stadium in Anaheim, California. That’s where Ryan spent a good portion of his career, throwing for the Angels from 1972-79. California is where Ryan fully harnessed his fastball and found consistent success as a starter for the first time.
So it was fitting the strikeout No. 5,714 happened in Anaheim.
Ryan threw seven innings, giving up four hits and one run (which was unearned) and striking out five. Angels catcher Greg Myers became Ryan’s final victim.
During his career with the Angels, Ryan went 138-121 with 2,416 strikeouts, the most he recorded at any of his four MLB stops. With the Angels, he made five All-Star Game appearances, and he came oh so close to winning the Cy Young Award. He finished second in voting in 1973 (when he went 12-16) and finished third on two different occasions in 1973 and 1977.
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Ryan’s career strikeout total falls into that category of ‘records that will never be broken.’ Not only is he the only Major League player with at least 5,000 strikeouts, his total is nearly 1,000 more than the pitcher at No. 2: Randy Johnson, a player that Ryan mentored early in the ‘Big Unit’s career.
Five days later in Seattle, Ryan made his scheduled start against the Mariners. But that start didn’t last long. Ryan tore the ulnar collateral ligament in the right elbow in the first inning of the game, effectively ending the 46-year-old pitcher’s career. The Rangers had hoped he would be able to make his final start at home at Arlington Stadium. Instead, it came at the Kingdome.
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