Tuesday, July 27, 2010

1973: The Year of Nolan Ryan

Annoyingly enough, the media has dubbed this season the 'Year of the Pitcher' because of the rash of no-hitters being thrown. This is just foolishness, as this season doesn't have more no-hitters than more than a handful of other seasons.

With Garza throwing the 5th no-hitter of the season last night, it brought this season into a tie with 1973. In that season, Nolan Ryan had arguably his best season as a pitcher. Becoming only the 4th player in Major League history, and the last to do so, to throw 2 no-hitters in a a single season, Ryan finished his highest in the Cy Young voting that year. He lost to Jim Palmer, despite having a mind boggling 383 strikeouts.

For a player bemoaned as over-rated by some, it is fascinating to look at Nolan Ryan's statistic and wonder how anyone could come up with that idea. If the objective of a pitcher is to give his team the best chance to win each day he takes the mound, Nolan Ryan did that. Not only did he throw 7 no-hitters in his career, when none of his contemporaries even threw 3, he took 24 games into the 7th inning with a chance for a no-hitter only to have them broken.

Above that, Ryan holds the record for most strikeouts in a 9 inning no-hitter with 17, on July 15, 1973.

And that's the game we are going to talk about today.

Thank goodness for the internet. I was watching MLB Network groggily one morning and caught a glimpse of some footage of Nolan Ryan in an Angels uniform. I'd never seen it before but half asleep, I left my DVR running with hopes of being able rewind it during one of the many repeats of MLB Quick Pitch. Unfortunately, when I woke up the second time I had completely forgotten about it. Figuring I had lost this opportunity forever, I gave up on it.

Then, this past weekend I thought, "Maybe MLB Network put the clip on their website" and sure enough, they did.

What we have here is a videotape of broadcast footage from that game. It is extremely hard to tell what innings we have shots of but I'll try to do my best to narrow it down.

Most of the footage, sans 1 clip, is of the Tiger striking out. That happened 17 times, so narrowing it down with just showing batters facing pitches gets difficult. The only inning Ryan didn't strike out a batter was the 9th inning, but I know we have footage of that. With that out of the way, let's jump right in:

The first clip is of Dick McAuliffe striking out. As you can see in the clip, the sun is still shining, as some later clips do not show this. McAuliffe struck out 3 times in the game. He did so in the 2nd, 5th and 7th innings. I would rule out the 7th inning, due to the amount of sunlight on the field but I can't be 100% certain. This is also one of the few clips that shows Ryan from start of pitch to end. He's throwing from the windup, which means no one is on base. Unfortunately, McAuliffe batted all 3 times with no one on base. Conclusion: Unknown.

Next we have a clip of Aurelio Rodriguez striking out. This one shows that darkness has started to creep over the field. In this clip, we get a sideview of Aurelio and then a shot of him striking out looking on a breaking pitch. This is important because Rodriguez struckout twice, once in the 3rd inning and once in the 5th inning. In the 3rd inning, however, he went down looking. So I can with pretty fair certainty say: Conclusion: 3rd inning.

After that, we have a clip of Duke Sims striking out swinging. Sims struckout in the 2nd, 4th and 7th innings. The sun is shinning brighter in this clip than in the Rodriguez clip. If we are going to say that the sun had already gone down in the Rodriguez clip, then there is no way that this could have been the 7th inning, leaving the 2nd and 4th. Conclusion: Unknown.

Another clip shows what appears to be Dick Sharon striking out swinging. He struckout in the 2nd and the 7th, reaching in the 5th with a walk. The field is still brightly lit with the yellowish tint the daylight clips seem to have, which makes me believe this is the 2nd inning. Conclusion: 2nd inning.

Finally, we have the last out. The footage includes some grainy video of the homeplate altercation between the umpire and Cash arguing over whether Cash can use the wooden leg from a table to bat with, quibbing "Why not, I won't hit him anyway".

After that, we get an actual bit of gameaudio and Cash popping up into short LF, with a shot of Ryan being congratulated walking off the mound.

I could be entirely wrong on more than a few of these clips. One thing that stands out to me is that the 7th inning shows up quite a few times. The 7th inning went Sims, McAuliffe, Sharon all striking out swinging. All three of these clips could be from that inning. I lean more towards 'not' because the sun is so bright in the McAuliffe clip. Likewise, the Rodriguez clip makes it appear he strikes out looking but he could just have easily been taking a strike in that manner. Since he was the next batter in the 8th inning and groundout, we could have a grouping of the 7th, 8th and 9th innings of Ryan's no-hitter. To be honest, the more I look at these clips, the more a doubt myself on what goes where.

Or we could just as easily have a scattering of clips that cover the 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 9th innings which would make me believe that this game exists in close to it's entirety. Either way, I've never seen this footage before this past week. It wasn't included on any of the No-Hitter highlight shows or Nolan Ryan retrospectives I have seen.

If anyone else has seen this footage elsewhere, please don't hesitate to share.

You can watch it here.


  1. but it is in the unhittable dvd and I am pretty sure wally gregg has it as well contact me at chriswilson24@hotmail.com with your list please

  2. You are absolutely right! I had completely forgotten about the Nolan Ryan section of that DVD.

    The only clips they show are the final out stuff and the strikeout of Dick McAuliffe.

    Thanks for the reminder!