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No better way to dispense of a batter than to strike him out, and no Pitcher ever did that more than "The Ryan Express." At the age of 8 Nolan stated that he could "throw a ball past a batter," and that he did for the next 40 or so years. A rigid training system, which Nolan religiously adhered to, enabled him to amazingly maintain his ability to throw a ball in the 90 mph range at the age of 46.
In his early years with the Mets and the California Angels, Nolan established himself with an incredible fastball and a wicked curve. Problems plagued Nolan early in his career however, as the strike zone was often elusive. He gave up an high number of walks along with his strike out totals.
I believe Nolan had his best years with the Astros and Rangers. He found the strike zone, threw his 5th no hitter with the Astros, and hurled two more while in a Ranger uniform, all while continuing to achieve his amazing feat of 5,714 career strike outs.
To me, the 6th and 7th no hitters were Nolan's best. He had to do it facing 9 real batters (with the AL using the D.H.) and at an age when most pitchers had long since been retired. Nolan amassed career numbers that will give him a straight ticket to Coopers Town, and he just very well maybe the first player in history to do it by unanimous vote.
To see why I have Nolan as my starting Pitcher, and batting 9th check out his stats and let me know what you think.
last updated 09/20/02