January 31st 1947: Nolan Ryan born
The Ryan Express got started on this day in 1947. Perhaps no sport exemplifies the timelessness of life or the importance of persistence. No pitcher (with the possible exception of Cal Ripken) exemplifies these qualities more clearly than Nolan Ryan. He never won, the Cy Young Award for best pitcher in the National or American League of Major League Baseball. He walked more hitters than any other major league pitcher, by far (the second word has 962 fewer walks). He threw more wild pitches than anyone else in history. He lost almost as many games as he won and never pitched a perfect game. He played 27 seasons in the Majors but only appeared in one World Series (a win). No one cares.
Batter after batter, inning after inning, decade after decade, he persevered racking up over 5,714 strikeouts. He stands as the only person other than Jackie Robinson (also born January 31st) to have his number retired by three teams (he also played for the Mets but had trouble getting into the regular rotation). He was almost unanimously voted into the Baseball Hall of Fame on the first ballot. His career and in some ways, his sport, exemplifies patient perseverance.
Look out for our April 15th post on Jackie Robinson.