LA Angels History: Nolan Ryan’s first no-hitter
On this day in 1973, former Angels pitcher Nolan Ryan threw the first of his record seven no-hitters. Forty four years later it still stands in infamy among the (now) LA Angels team history.
On December 10th, 1971 the California, now LA Angels made a trade that still remains as one of the most lopsided in history. New York Mets pitcher Nolan Ryan and three prospects were traded to the Angels. Going back to the Mets was former all-star shortstop Jim Fregosi.
Ryan, in just his second season with the California Angels, was still at the beginning of what is now a legendary pitching career. The 1972 season had begun to show what a steal the Angels had in fact made. Ryan went 19-16 with a 2.28 ERA and his first 300-strikeout season. However, an Angels team that finished fifth in the AL west at 75-80, Ryan’s record makes a little more sense (his league leading walks and wild pitch numbers help too.)
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As 1973 set in, Ryan got back to winning and striking out batters. First and foremost, April saw the fireballer exit with a 3-1 record to go along with 54 K in 43 IP (correspondingly, 1973 was also his highest CY Young finish, placing second in the AL.)
May started out fine with a win against the Detroit Tigers. Ryan went a now unheard of 12 innings in that May 2nd outing, striking out a very human by Nolan Ryan standards 7 batters. However, his next start saw him pitch better, but in a losing effort just four days later. Next, Ryan followed that with a 0.1 IP relief effort against the Chicago White Sox, taking the loss. Never one to shy away from trying again, the next night Ryan took the ball against the White Sox, for another relief appearance, going a near perfect 2 IP for the save.
Just three days after his back-to-back relief appearances Ryan took the mound on May 15th against the Kansas City Royals. The LA Angels spotted Ryan an early 2-0 lead and never looked back. A Bob Oliver solo shot in the sixth inning gave them a three run lead and Ryan did the rest.
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Through nine innings of work Nolan Ryan struck out 12 Royals batters. Incidentally, it would become a regularity for the pitcher that year. As a result, Ryan hit that strikeout number on eight different occasions on his way to 383 strikeouts for the year. Ryan managed to control his live arm, walking just three batters.
Just for fun, his GSc in the game was 96 (game score developed by Bill James scores a pitchers performance starting with a base of 50 points and adding or subtracting based on their performance in the game.)
In conclusion, for LA Angels fans and Nolan Ryan it was a beginning. The pitcher would record a record tying four no-no’s in a Halo uniform. Still, Ryan was not finished. He followed his Angels’ no-hitters with a record setting fifth, sixth, and seventh after departing the Angels at the end of the 1979 season.