Lynn Nolan Ryan Jr. was born on January 31, 1947. He is largely regarded as one of the greatest Major League Baseball (M.L.B.) pitchers of all time. Ryan threw for the New York Mets, California Angels, Houston Astros, and Texas Rangers over a record 27-year career that spanned four decades. In 1999, he was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame. Ryan served as the Texas Rangers’ chief executive officer (C.E.O.) as an executive advisor to the Houston Astros after retiring in 1993. Let us all gather here to celebrate his birthday.
Lynn Nolan Ryan Jr.
The Ryan Express
January 31, 1947
Lynn Nolan Ryan, Jr. was born in Refugio, Texas on January 31, 1947, to Lynn Nolan Ryan, Sr. and Martha Lee Hancock Ryan. He joined the Alvin Little League Baseball team when he was nine years old. He made the all-star team when he was 11 years old. Jim Watson coached him while he was at Alvin High School.
Ryan was taken in the eighth round of the 1965 draft by the New York Mets. He was soon pitching for the Appalachian Rookie League. He pitched his first full season with the New York Mets in 1968. He eventually guided his team to a World Series victory over the Baltimore Orioles the following year. He was traded to the California Angels as a starting pitcher in 1971. He later led the American League with over 320 strikeouts and nine shutouts. He also established a new major league record by striking out 383 opponents. He signed a one-year $4.5 million contract with the Houston Astros in 1979. With this team, he broke Walter Johnson’s strikeout record with his 3,509th strikeout. He then joined the Texas Rangers as a free agent. The following year, he led the league in strikeouts with 301. With 5,714 strikeouts, he announced his retirement in 1993.
He married Ruth, his high school sweetheart, in 1968. The couple has three children. After retiring, he bought the Corpus Christi Hooks and Round Rock Express teams. The U.S. Mint honored him with a $1 commemorative coin in 1992. They dubbed the coin the “Nolan Ryan dollar.” In his honor, the Texas State Legislature renamed State Highway 288 the Nolan Ryan Expressway in 1995. He was named president of the Texas Rangers in 2008. He stepped down as C.E.O. in October 2013.
Ryan makes his major league debut in the sixth inning against the Atlanta Braves at Shea Stadium.
Ryan completes six months of basic military training in the Army Reserve.
Ryan signs a four-year $4.5-million contract with the Houston Astros as a free agent, making him the highest-paid M.L.B. player at the time.
Ryan inks an agreement with the Texas Rangers as a free agent.
His contributions to American baseball are recognized — he is inducted into the Texas Trail of Fame.
Ryan serves as President and C.E.O. of the Texas Rangers.
Why We Love Nolan Ryan
He is philanthropic
Ryan takes time out to support his community when he can. He founded The Nolan Ryan Foundation, a Round Rock, Texas-based nonprofit organization that supports youth, education, and community development.
He is a baseball legend
Almost three decades after retiring from baseball in 1993, Ryan holds 51 Major League Baseball records. By signing with the Houston Astros, he became the first million-dollar player in any sport.
He is inspiring
He gave a famous inspirational quote. It says: “Enjoying success requires the ability to adapt. Only by being open to change will you have a true opportunity to get the most from your talents.”
5 Surprising Facts
He was a newsboy
For several years, the young Ryan delivered copies of "The Houston Post" every morning.
A record holder
With the fastest pitch-throwing speed of 100.9 miles per hour, Ryan is listed in the Guinness Book of World Records.
His uniform numbers
Three different teams (the Angels, the Astros, and the Rangers) have retired his uniform numbers.
His healing method
Ryan was well known for dipping his fingers in pickle juice to treat and prevent blisters.
He co-owns two baseball teams
Ryan shares ownership of two minor league baseball teams: the Round Rock Express and the Corpus Christi Hooks.
Nolan Ryan FAQs
Did Nolan Ryan throw 108 miles an hour?
According to the baseball documentary “Fastball,” his final fastball was clocked at 98 miles per hour.
How many record wins does Nolan Ryan hold?
Ryan holds a record of 324 wins.
Did Nolan Ryan ever hit a home run?
Yes, Ryan hit the first home run of his career, a three-run shot off Don Sutton, on April 12, 1980.
Nolan Ryan’s birthday dates