Long Standing Records: Nolan Ryan's 7 No-Hitters


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.

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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

  • http://www.bosoxinjection.com Rick Meegan

    Derek, I hope others enjoy this column as much as I do. I love the sacred records in baseball. This is another record I think will stand the test of time. The era of the 5 man rotation will have some play in this record never being shattered. Also, with the exception of Roy Halliday, noone pitches the complete game any more. Justin Verlander just tossed his second no-no the other day. he has filthy stuff and can still hit 98-100 mph in the 8th and 9th innings. But, I don’t even think these two stand a chance.

    Nolan Ryan also had a little wildness in him to allow him to throw 7 no hitters. No batter was ever comfortable digging in at the plate. A batter never knew when the 100 mph heater was heading straight for his head. He could pitch a no hitter and walk 7-10 batters no problem.

    This may be the era of pitching but we will never see another Nolan Ryan again.

  • Derek Stykalo

    Rick, great addition to this and great insight to the way Ryan pitched. His recklessness reminds me of Dice-K. I’m not comparing Dice-K to Nolan Ryan, but Dice-K, when he’s on he could throw a no-hitter in my eyes. I don’t see him ever throwing a perfect game because of his reckless ways, similar to Ryan’s.

  • Trout

    This record will never be broken. Pitchers don’t have the kind of will power to pitch as much as Ryan did.

    On a side note my favorite Nolan Ryan moment is when Robin Ventura charged the mound and Ryan placed him in a headlock and punched him in the doom at least seven times. One of the classics!

    They don’t make them like that anymore.

  • http://www.bosoxinjection.com Rick Meegan

    Derek, I’m pleased to see someone else comment on this post. What’s so entertaiing about these articles are, any specific record can trigger a memory or flashback in one’s mind. Just the name Nolan Ryan, had Trout think of the brawll between Ryan and Ventura. Most baseball fights are lame to say the least, however I remember that one vividly too. Most pitcher duck and cover , but Ryan put Ventura in a headlock and rabbit punched him. It was awesome.

    One name I failed to mention earlier, was Randy Johnson. he was alot like Ryan. Threw 100 mph fastballs and had no control in his early years. That proves just how hard this record will be to break. If Randy Johnson could only throw two in his career then who in the world will ever throw 7 again?

  • Derek Stykalo

    Thanks for the comments Trout.

    I agree with both you and Rick. The Ryan impression of grabbing Ventura and proceeding to pumble him punches while in a headlock is one of those moments that sticks out and one you see in a baseball montage quite often.
    It reminds me of the Fisk homerun and how he waived the ball fair. Anytime you see a baseball montage you always see Fisk. To me, the Ryan headlock is not as prominent, but still a lasting image.

    Great call.

  • john

    derek-enjoyed your article-in total agreement-ryan was the only sports figure whose career i have ever followed-but i do need to make one correction- his 81 game with the astros was against the dodgers not the angels (american league)

  • sd

    I think it is a long-shot to be broken, but it could happen. There is a lot of skill, but a lot of luck wen it comes to no hitters. Someone could get lucky and maybe approach the record. They would also have to be a HOF caliber pitcher that had a lot of luck. Sandy Koufax pitched 4. If someone like that came along again, but lasted a little longer…probably not too likely, but maybe just very very slightly maybe…