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On This Date in Sports June 11, 1990: No Hitter #6

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Nolan Ryan of the Texas Rangers becomes the oldest pitcher in baseball at the age of 43 to throw a no-hitter. The Rangers blank the Oakland Athletics 5-0 as Ryan throws his sixth no-hitter. It is the first no-hitter for Ryan in nine seasons, as he becomes the first pitcher to toss a no-hitter in three separate decades. Nolan Ryan would add seventh no-hitter in 1991. 

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. 

Nolan Ryan took the mound on a Monday night in Oakland, holding a 4-3 record as the Texas Rangers held a record of 24-33 facing the first-place Oakland Athletics. The defending champion A's were 38-17 for Tony LaRussa with Scott Sanderson on the mound. It was hard not to imagine, the A's would win the game, but with Ryan turning back the clock, it would be history at the Oakland Coliseum. 

The Rangers gave Nolan Ryan an early 2-0 lead with a first-inning home run by Julio Franco. Ryan set the tone right away, striking out two of the first three batters he faced. John Russell homered to make it 3-0 in the second. In the third inning, the Athletics got their first base runner as Walt Weiss worked out a walk with one out. The Rangers would make it 5-0 in the fifth when Franco slammed his second two-run dinger of the game. Nolan Ryan now went into cruise mode, striking out the side in the bottom of the inning. 

Nolan Ryan was at his best against a power Oakland lineup, as Mike Gallego earned a one-out walk in the sixth. It would the last runner to reach base, as Ryan retired the final 11 batters. Along the way, Nolan Ryan already passed 5,000 strikeouts had 14 in the game, with only two walks. In the ninth, Ryan started off with a strikeout of Ken Phelps before Rickey Henderson hit a week grounder to short. With two outs, Willie Randolph was the final out, flying out to Ruben Sierra in right field, foul territory to end the game, as Ryan was given a victory ride by his teammates.