Sunday, June 16, 2024

From the Favorites Box: Nolan Ryan, 1975 Topps #5

A series where I post some thoughts about favorite cards. Previous cards in the series are available here.

I like this highlight card for two reasons: 

(1) 300 strikeouts for three consecutive seasons? Holy cow. 
(2) The camera angle makes Nolan Ryan look 100 feet tall. 

Look behind him. There’s nothing but blue sky, because trees and houses simply don’t go that high. The only thing you can make out is the top of a light pole down there in the left corner. Ryan is wayyy taller. 

From here, you have to wonder if he's going to complete his pitching motion and fire a fastball under your chin, or if he'll just keep his fist in that glove, bring both hands down together, and give you a good old-fashioned pounding.
But let's get back to Nolan Ryan, the pitcher. Aside from his league-leading 367 strikeouts in 1974, how about some other stats from that season? Ryan led the majors in innings pitched (332.2), walks (202), batters faced (1,392), and strikeouts per 9 innings (9.9). Do the math, and that means he struck out every 3.79 batters he faced that year. He went 22-16 with 26 complete games, 3 shutouts, and a 2.89 ERA.

And get this: if it weren't for a string of injuries in 1975 that left him with only 186 Ks in 28 starts, Ryan could have put together six straight seasons of 300 strikeouts. Look here:
1972: 329 Ks
1973: 383 Ks
1974: 367 Ks
1975: 186 Ks
1976: 327 Ks
1977: 341 Ks
It's also worth noting that he led the entire majors in strikeouts all five of those years surrounding 1975.

No wonder he's 100 feet tall on that card.
And for defining pure dominance and intimidation with a single photo, 1975 Topps #5 has a spot in my box of favorite cards.


  1. Replies
    1. Right? Nice job by the Topps photographer there. So much more interesting than yet another headshot.

  2. One of the better cards in the '75 set, I have yet to mention this card in my 1975 Topps countdown. It was a big one in my childhood.

    1. I look forward to seeing where this card ends up in your countdown, Night Owl!

  3. Great looking photo and those strikeout numbers are insane. Looks like him and Randy Johnson are the only pitchers with more than three 300+ strikeout seasons. Johnson had four straight 300+ strikeout seasons (1999 to 2002).

    1. Great research, Fuji! Randy Johnson sure was fun to watch back then, wasn't he?