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- Sport: Baseball
- Years active: 1966-1993
- Age at retirement: 46
Ryan played for four teams—the Mets, Angels, Astros, and Rangers—spanning four decades. But he’s better known for reasons other than his longevity in the sport. First, he was one of the greatest pitchers in baseball history, and the greatest strikeout pitcher ever, fanning 5,714 batters. On the strength of a consistent 100-mph fastball, even late in his career, he also threw seven no-hitters—three more than any player before or since.
Second, because Ryan’s late-career success dovetailed with the steroid era in baseball, rumors have swirled about whether his stats were “juiced,” though he publicly criticized the use of steroids by players in the years after his retirement.
Third, Nolan Ryan is known among Texas Rangers fans for an iconic moment in franchise history on August 4, 1993, when the Chicago White Sox batter Robin Ventura took exception to an inside pitch by Ryan and charged the mound. Ryan put the third baseman—who was 20 years his junior—into a headlock. Both teams cleared the dugouts onto the field as umpires stopped the fight. Ventura was ejected, Ryan was not, and the Rangers won 5-2. Ventura had a successful career and went on to manage the White Sox.