In the world of Major League Baseball (MLB), America's favorite past-time doesn't just involve playing or watching the sport. In addition to keeping tabs on our favorite teams and players, the hobby of collecting sports cards seems to be just as much a favorite activity as watching the sport. In the case of Nolan Ryan, this veteran of professional baseball, the hobby of collecting baseball cards with his name on it can prove to be a rather expensive one. Fans of the sport will recognize Lynn Ryan as the prize pitcher for the New York Mets, California Angels, Houston Astros, and Texas Rangers. In 1999, he was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame, six years after his retirement. When Ryan retired as a player, he became the chief executive officer of the Texas Rangers, as well as an executive advisor for the Houston Astros. To this day, many fans consider Nolan Ryan as one of the best Major League Baseball players of all time. From his right hand, Ryan consistently hurled pitches that were locked above the one hundred miles-per-hour mark, a velocity he maintained throughout the twenty-seven years he played. Nolan Ryan's strikeout record is 5,714, which is 839 strikeouts ahead of runner-up, Randy Johnson. He is also the all-time leader in no-hitters with seven, which is three more than any other pitcher in the league at this time. He is tied with Bob Feller for the most one-hitters at twelve. There have also been eighteen two-hitter pitches delivered by Nolan Ryan. Despite this impressive track record to his resume, he never pitched a perfect game, nor did he ever win a Cy Young Award. Nolan Ryan is, so far, only one of twenty-nine players in baseball history to have appeared in Major League baseball games over a span of four different decades.
Before all this, Nolan Ryan was a Texas born and raised youngest of six siblings. While growing up, Nolan Ryan enjoyed throwing objects at any given target, it seemed the sport of baseball was a destiny he was bound to engage in. This encouraged Ryan's father to put his youngest son into the sport of baseball. As young as eleven years old, Ryan was a member of the Alvin Little League Baseball when he made the all-star team. He did so again when he was twelve years old. This is where he would pitch his first no-hitter game. Aside from pitcher, Nolan Ryan has played other positions on the field before going into the majors. While in junior high school, Nolan Ryan was able to pitch a softball by over one hundred yards. Before entering high school, Ryan quit playing football to focus purely on baseball.
While in high school, Ryan continued to impress. When he graduated in 1965, he was drafted by the New York Mets in the twelfth round of the 1965 Major League Baseball Draft with the 295th overall pick. Immediately after signing with the New York Mets, he began pitching for the Marion Mets in the Appalachian League, as well as for the Mets in the Florida Instructional League. In 1966, he then pitched for the Class A Greenville Mets of the Western Carolinas League. Along the way, he continued to impress, which lead him to the Class AA Williamsport Mets of the Eastern League. Then, in 1966, Nolan Ryan became a late-season call-up to the New York Mets, becoming the second-youngest player in the league at the time. He only played in two games that season, striking out Pat Jarvis, but giving up his first major league home run to Joe Torre.
In 1967, Nolan Ryan fell ill, sustained an arm injury, and joined the Army Reserve service. In 1968, Ryan returned to the major leagues and remained there until his retirement in 1993. From 1966 until 1971, Nolan Ryan pitched for the New York Mets before he was traded to the California Angels. While there, he pitched for the team from 1972 season until the end of the 1979 season. He was then traded to the Houston Astros, whom he played for from 1980 until 1988. The Texas Rangers was the final team he pitched for from 1989 until 1993. His final game was on September 22, 1993, becoming the final player from the 1960s era to retire from the sport.
5. 1968 Topps #177 Nolan Ryan Rookie Card PSA 9 MINT ($125,582.40 USD)
For $125,582.40 USD, this 1968 Nolan Ryan rookie card was sold to the successful bidder via Memory Lane, Inc. The sale date was registered on February 19, 2022 after thirty-nine bidders competed for this card.
4. 1970 Topps Nolan Ryan #712 PSA Gem Mint 10 ($132,000 USD)
On August 24, 2021, a 1970 Nolan Ryan PSA-graded 10 card auctioned off for $132,000 USD through Heritage Auctions. There were forty-four bids that went into the competition to take the card home. According to PSA, only three of these cards exist.
3. 1968 Topps #177 Nolan Ryan Rookie Card – PSA MINT 9 ($136,530 USD)
Through Goldin Auctions, the PSA-graded 9 Nolan Ryan rookie card was auctioned off with the winning bid of $136,530 USD on October 27, 2021. There were twenty-eight bids that started at $10,000 USD. According to PSA's records, there are sixty-six of these cards of this grade known to exist.
2. 1968 Topps #177 Nolan Ryan Rookie Card – PSA GEM MT 10 ($600,000 USD)
Via Goldin Auctions, this 1968 Nolan Ryan rookie card sold for $600,000 USD on August 28, 2020. There were twenty-four bidders involved in the process that saw the bidding begin as low as $100,000 USD for this prized card.
1. 1968 Topps Nolan Ryan - Mets Rookie Stars #177 PSA Gem Mint 10 ($612,359.83 USD)
For $612,359.83 USD, this 1968 Nolan Ryan rookie card, split with the name and image Jerry Koosman, was sold on August 27, 2016. Through Heritage Auctions, this baseball card saw thirteen bids vie for the prize but in the end there could only be one winner.
Written by Dana Hanson
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