Nolan Ryan threw a staggering seven no-hitters during his long career, three more than any other pitcher in baseball history. He pitched the no-hitters on three different teams and with seven different catchers.
The Nolan Ryan no-hitters span 18 years, with the first two happening in the same year, 1973, and the last in 1991, when the 44-year-old Ryan pitched for the Texas Rangers. That last one made Ryan the oldest player to ever pitch a no-hitter.
Here’s a closer look at all seven Nolan Ryan no-hitters. They are incredible accomplishments among the many made by Ryan, who holds 51 Major League Baseball records.
Nolan Ryan No-Hitters: California Angels
Ryan threw his first four no-hitters as a member of the California Angels pitching staff. He pitched for the Angels for eight seasons, from 1972 until 1979. He made the All-Star team in five of those seasons, and won 19 or more games in 1972, 1973, 1974 and 1977. He led the league in strikeouts in seven of those seasons. Two no-hitters came on the road, with the other two at Anaheim Stadium.
May 15, 1973. The first no-hitter came in a 3-0 victory against the Kansas City Royals in Kauffman Stadium with Jeff Torborg catching. Ryan had lasted only 17 pitches in his previous start, against the Chicago White Sox, and this was his first visit to what was then a new ballpark in Kansas City.
July 15, 1973. The second Nolan Ryan no-hitter of 1973 came in a 6-0 victory against the Detroit Tigers in Tiger Stadium with Art Kusnyer catching. Ryan worried the Tigers were stealing the signs, but Kusnyer told him he could tell the Tigers what pitch was coming, and they still couldn’t hit what Ryan was throwing. Kusnyer told Sports Illustrated that at one point, Tiger Norm Cash struck out. As he returned to the dugout, fellow Tiger Bill Freehan asked him what Nolan was throwing. Cash simply responded: “Don’t go up there.”
Ryan almost had a third no-hitter in 1973 when the only hit he allowed against the New York Yankees came in a pop-up in the first inning by Thurman Munson.
Sept. 28, 1974. The third no-hitter came in a 4-0 victory against the Minnesota Twins in Anaheim Stadium with Tom Egan catching. Ryan, who walked a record 2,795 batters to go with his record 5,714 strikeouts, walked eight batters in this game. After the game, he gave Egan $500 and a bonus to every player on the field that day.
June 1, 1975. The fourth and last no-hitter as an Angel came in a 1-0 victory over the Baltimore Orioles with Ellie Rodriguez catching. This no-hitter tied the record for no-hitters then held by Sandy Koufax. Rodriguez told SI Ryan threw only 86 mph when the game started, but that the curveball and change pitch up were working well. Then, in the fifth inning, his fastball took off and that was that.
Nolan Ryan No-Hitters: Houston Astros
Ryan threw one no-hitter during his time as a player with the Astros, which lasted from 1980 until 1988. His first contract with the Astros made him the first million dollar player in baseball history. He grew up in Alvin, a town south of Houston.
Sept. 26, 1981. The fifth no-hitter came in a 5-0 victory against the Los Angeles Dodgers in the Astrodome with Alan Ashby catching. It’s fitting the no-hitter came against the Dodgers, the team Koufax pitched for, as this no-hitter set the new MLB career no-hitter record.
Nolan Ryan No-Hitters: Texas Rangers
Ryan left Houston for North Texas after a contract dispute with the Astros. When Ryan became a Ranger, he was 42 years old. He pitched five seasons for Texas, throwing two more no-hitters. In his first season, he had 301 strikeouts to lead the league.
July 11, 1990. The sixth no-hitter came in a 5-0 victory against the Oakland Athletics in Oakland-Alameda County Stadium with John Russell catching. Russell had never caught Ryan before. Six months before the no-hitter, Russell had a job coaching a high school team. But he never got nervous, at least not once the game started, because of the look in Ryan’s eyes. Russell told SI: “Behind the plate, the pitches looked unhittable. The intensity in his eyes was unlike anything I’ve ever seen. That’s why I never got nervous. I looked into his eyes. It was like being in a tunnel. There was no one out there but Nolan and me. There’s no other way to describe it.”
May 1, 1991. The seventh and final no-hitter came in a 3-0 victory against the Toronto Blue Jays in Arlington Stadium with Mike Stanley catching. At 44 years old, Ryan set the record for the oldest player with a no-hitter. The next closest are Cy Young at 41, and both Randy Johnson and Warren Spahn at 40.