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On This Date in Sports July 31, 1990: Nolan 300

In collaboration with the Sportsecyclopedia.com

 

Nolan Ryan of the Texas Rangers wins his 300th game, beating the Milwaukee Brewers 11-3 at County Stadium. Ryan pitches seven and two-third innings, allowing three runs, one of which was earned on six hits with eight strikeouts. Brad Arnsberg earns the save, as Texas blows the game open with six runs in the ninth. Nolan Ryan would pitch until 1993, posting a career record of 324-292.

Lynn Nolan Ryan was born on January 31, 1947, in Refugio, Texas. Growing up in Alvin, Texas, Ryan enjoyed throwing things from the time he could walk and was encouraged to take up baseball. By the time he was in Junior High School, he was already throwing 100mph and throwing No-Hitters. In the first year of the MLB Draft in 1965, Nolan Ryan was selected in the 12th round by the New York Mets.

Nolan Ryan would make his major league debut with the Mets at the age of 19 on September 11, 1966. The first batter he faced Pat Jarvis would naturally be a strikeout. He would miss much of the 1967 season dealing with injuries and serving in the Army Reserves. Nolan Ryan would make it back to the majors in 1968 but spent much of his early career being a swingman out of the bullpen. Though he had two crucial postseason appearances with the 1969 Mets, winning the pennant clincher in the NLCS, and earning a save in Game 3 of the World Series. It would be the only World Series appearance of Ryan’s career. Much of Nolan Ryan’s Mets career can be marked by fast pitching that was not always accurate as he notched 493 pitches in New York before being traded to the California Angels after the 1971 season. Ryan had his struggles with the Mets, posting a record of 29-38 in five seasons.

The Nolan Ryan for Jim Fregosi trade would become one of the most infamous deals in Mets history as the Ryan Express got on track in Anaheim. Nolan Ryan would credit much of his success with the Angels to coach Jimmy Reese, whom he would name his first son after. With the Angels, Nolan Ryan had a breakout season in 1972, leading the American League with 329 strikeouts. A year later, he tossed the first two No-Hitters of his career while setting a single-season record with 383 strikeouts as he finished second in Cy Young voting behind Jim Palmer of the Baltimore Orioles. Nolan Ryan had his only 20-win seasons with the Angels in 1973 and 1974. Nolan Ryan pitched with the Angels for eight seasons, posting a record of 138-121.

Going home, Nolan Ryan became the first player to make a million dollars in a season when he signed with the Houston Astros in 1980. The Ryan Express continued to run in 1980 as he got his 300th strikeout against Cesar Geronimo of the Cincinnati Reds. A year later, he set a record with five career no-hitters against the Los Angeles Dodgers. Nolan Ryan spent nine years with the Astros, posting a record of 106-94. 

With his career looking to be nearing an end, Nolan Ryan joined the Texas Rangers in 1989 and enjoyed a resurgence at the age of 42 as he topped 300 strikeouts for the first time since 1977, winning it was the tenth time he led the league in Ks, earning career strikeout  5,000 along the way. Ryan would continue his remarkable success in Texas as he threw no-hitter number six in 1990.

On the final day of July, Nolan Ryan made his second attempt at 300 wins after a no-decision six days earlier against the New York Yankees. Ryan entered the game at 10-4 for the Rangers, who held a  record of 51-50 for manager Bobby Valentine. The Brewers entered the game at 45-54 for manager Tom Treblhorn. Making the start for Milwaukee that night was Chris Bosio. 

The Brewers scored the first run of the game, as Paul Molitor scored on a triple from Robin Yount in the third inning. In the fifth inning, the Rangers’ bats awoke as they plated four runs of Bosio. The rally started with singles by Ruben Sierra and Harold Baines. After a walk to Pete Incavagila loaded the bases, Texas tied the game on catcher Geno Petralli's sac-fly. Baines scored the go-ahead run on a single by Steve Buechele. Following a flyout by Gary Pettis, the Rangers added two more runs on a triple by Jeff Huson. The Rangers extended the lead to 5-1 when Incavagila had a two-out single to score Sierra. 

With a 5-1 lead, Nolan Ryan appeared to be cruising for his 300th win as he started the eighth inning. However, a pair of errors by second baseman Julio Franco led to the Brewers scoring two runs as Jim Ganter singled in Yount to make it 5-3. With two out and the tying runs on base, Brad Arnsberg was brought in to relieve. Arnsberg ended the inning and the rally by getting a flyout from Mike Felder.  

Pete Incavagila led off the ninth inning against Paul Mirabella with a home run to give Texas a 6-3 lead. Following a walk to Geno Petralli, Mark Knudson took over on the mound for Milwaukee. Steve Buechele reached base on a bunt single. Gary Pettis also trying to bunt reached base on an error by Knudson, who was taken out after two batters. Tony Fossas took over and gave up a single to Jack Daugherty to make the score 7-3. Julio Franco, who made two errors in the eighth, made up for it with a grand slam to give the Rangers an 11-3 lead. 

In the bottom of the ninth, Brad Arnsberg looking for the save retired the first two batters before Paul Molitor singled. The next batter Robin Yount ended the game with a lineout to Gary Pettis in centerfield. Nolan Ryan watching on the bench, was able to celebrate his 300th win. 

Nolan Ryan would pitch three more seasons, tossing a seventh no-hitter in 1991, he would post a 51-39 record in five years with the Rangers. In total, Ryan posted a record of 324-292, the 292 losses are third-most behind Cy Young (315) and Pud Galvin (310). His 5,714 strikeouts and 2,795 walks are also all-time records.