Over the past week, Major League Baseball has witnessed its first two no-hitters of the 2011 season. The first one came on Tuesday, May 3 when Francisco Liriano of the Minnesota Twins no-hit the Chicago White Sox at U.S Cellular Field.
The second came this past Saturday when the Detroit Tigers, Justin Verlander held the Toronto Blue Jays hitless. It was Verlander’s second no-no of his career.
So in honor of the two gentlemen who became a part of baseball history, I decided to explore a record surrounding no-hitters. The great Nolan Ryan pitched an unmatched 7 no-hitters over his illustrious career and thus is this week’s discussion of Long Standing Records.
Nolan Ryan is one of the all time great pitchers in the history of the game. He played 27 seasons, dawning four different uniforms; the New York Mets, California Angels, Houston Astros and the Texas Rangers, who he now co-owns.
His first four no-no’s were during his time as a member of the Angels, with the first 2 coming in 1973. In fact, Ryan is one of only 4 professional pitchers to record 2 no-hitters in the same season and the latest to do so. He would later no-hit his former team the Angels, as a member of the Houston Astros in 1981. His final two no-hit bids were in 1990 and 1991 as a member of the Texas Rangers. Nolan Ryan later retired in 1993 and was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1999.
Despite never throwing a perfect game, never winning a Cy Young award and having a career winning percentage at just .526, Nolan Ryan will long be remembered for so much more. And his 7 career no-hitters is just the start.
Will it ever be broken? Not in my lifetime. Just look at some of the greatest pitchers in the game today. Roy Halladay was 33 years of age before he threw his first no-hitter, which was actually a complete game last season. He followed that up with a no-hitter in the playoffs during the 2010 ALDS against the Cincinnati Reds. So, let’s count that as two. How many more seasons does Doc have left? Well the way he pitches to contact and his endurance to go the distance, Halladay could realistically pitch into his forties. If he lasted another 9 seasons after this one, he would have to pick up a no-hitter every second year just to tie Ryan’s record.
How about CC Sabathia, one of the best pitchers in the American League. He doesn’t even have a no-hitter on his resume, although you could make a strong argument for that after what happened in the game against Pittsburgh in 2008.
I could go on about other great pitchers that have come and gone without achieving one of baseball’s greatest accomplishments; Roger Clemens, Pedro Martinez, Greg Maddux, John Smoltz, just to name a few. They hardly had mediocre careers, despite never throwing a no-hitter.
But the focus is on the great Nolan Ryan and what he accomplished. Sure he played nearly 3 decades, which is more than any other pitcher and is a record in itself. In order to record a no-hitter the pitcher needs a bit of luck and some gold glove like defense. But most importantly, the pitcher needs to be in total and complete command of his pitches and the batters.
While Nolan Ryan can’t say he was ever perfect, he can say that on 7 different occasions, he was unhittable.
Do you think this record will be broken? Please feel free to leave a comment. Records after all, were made to be broken.
Tags: Baltimore Orioles Boston Red Sox C.C. Sabathia California Angels Chicago White Sox Cleveland Indians Detroit Tigers Fenway Park Francisco Liriano Greg Maddux Houston Astros John Smoltz Justin Verlander Minnesota Twins New York Mets New York Yankees Nolan Ryan Pedro Martinez Philadelphia Phillies Pittsburgh Pirates Roger Clemens Roy Halladay Texas Rangers Toronto Blue Jays