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Nolan Ryan: Throwing Heat

Nolan Ryan never won a Cy Young Award, his win-loss ratio was so-so, and he walked more batters than anybody, but he gets my vote for best pitcher ever. He piled up some better statistics over the years—27-year career, 5,714 strikeouts, seven no-hitters, 3.19 lifetime ERA, eight-time All Star, near-unanimous vote for the Hall of Fame—but it was his attitude that won me over.

I liked Ryan from his first day in an Astros uniform. He worked hard every game, and for most of his nine seasons in Houston he didn't have much to work with.

As an athlete, Ryan was Texas personified, wasn't he? He went out with all guns blazing, every game. He threw so hard and fast it made batters cuss and umpires duck. Even at age 60, he was still throwing 85 mph. And then there was that 1993 incident that Robin Ventura would love to forget. Ventura got hit by a pitch and charged the mound, where Ryan turned him from a White Soxer into a bobby soxer.

In 1988, Ryan got a raw deal from Astros owner John McMullen and headed to the Texas Rangers to finish his playing career. Twenty years later, in February 2008, the Rangers snatched him away from the Astros again.ADallas Morning Newsarticle about his new positionhinted at why I'm still a Nolan Ryan fan: "Barely five minutes into his re-introductory news conference Wednesday afternoon, it became clear that new Rangers president Nolan Ryan cared little about the pomp and circumstance of the position, but rather he simply wanted to get down to business."

He still throws hard and fast.

-Lisa Miller

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