Ryan strikes out 5,000

On April 22, 1989, Nolan Ryan became the first, and remains the only, Major League Baseball pitcher to strike out 5,000 batters when the Texas Ranger faced Oakland Athletics star Rickey Henderson.

Ryan entered the game 14-7 with 219 strikeouts, and needed six to reach the milestone. Henderson, who retired as the all-time walks leader, led off the top of the fifth and worked himself to a full count after fouling two pitches. He struck out swinging at a low, 96-mile-per-hour fastball.

After the game, Henderson told The New York Times, ”It was an honor to be the 5,000th. As Davey Lopes says, ‘If he ain’t struck you out, you ain’t nobody.’ ”

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Athletic’s shortstop Walt Weiss scored in the third and third baseman Carney Lansford in the fifth, claiming a 2-0 victory.

Before the game, Ryan requested to not have play stopped in his honor. Instead, team owner, and future president, George W. Bush displayed a video of his father, President George H. W. Bush congratulating and saluting the pitcher.

Ryan was drafted by the New York Mets in 1968. He also pitched for the California Angles and Houston Texans before ending his career with the Rangers. He threw 807 games in 27 seasons, winning 324. His last game was on September 22, 1993.

Ryan’s most well known accomplishment is his seven no-hitters. The last one came in 1991 when he was 44. The Baseball Hall of Fame inducted Ryan with the class of 1999.

The three pitchers with the most strikeouts are Ryan (5,714), Randy Johnson (4,875) and Roger Clemens (4,672). CC Sabathia has 2,582 strikeouts and is on top for current players.

History.com reflects on Ryan’s 5,000th strikeout



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