May 1 in Baseball History: Rickey Henderson and Nolan Ryan set career milestones on the same day

On May 1, 1991 Rickey Henderson stole third base in the fourth inning of a game vs. the New York Yankees. It was the 939th stolen base of his career, giving him one more than Lou Brock. One year later to the day, May 1, 1992, Henderson swiped stolen base #1,000 vs. the Detroit Tigers. Henderson set the career mark for stolen bases in the 15th year of his career, but he went on to play a total of 25 years and stole an incredible 1,406 bases before retiring at 44 years old. The two active players nearest Henderson on the all time stolen base list are Jose Reyes with 514 at 35 years old and Ichiro with 509 swipes at 44 years old. It seems safe to say that Henderson’s record will stand forever.


Perhaps Henderson was inspired to keep playing the game by Nolan Ryan, who later the same day, at 44 years of age, became the oldest pitcher to throw a no-hitter, the 7th of his career leading the Texas Rangers over the Toronto Blue Jays. Only 5 pitchers have thrown more than 1 no hitter in a career. The next in line to Ryan is Sandy Koufax with 4 no-no’s. Since no active pitcher has more than one no-hitter to his credit, it is hard to believe that Ryan’s record of 7 could ever be broken. However, his career strikeout record is another matter.

Ryan recorded 16 strikeouts in his 7th no-no, marking the 209th time he struck out at least 10 batters in a game and the 26th time he struck out at least 15. Ryan continued to pitch until he was 46 years of age.  During his long career Ryan struck out 5,714 batters in 5,386 innings – 1.06 strikeouts per inning. The nearest active pitcher on the career strike out list is 37-year-old C.C. Sabathia with 2,862 so he is already halfway to breaking Ryan’s record. At his current pace, Sabathia would be only 55 years old when he surpasses Ryan.


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Author: Big Bubbo

I wear and have worn several different hats over the course of my life: minister, librarian, college administrator, college professor, entrepreneur, researcher, and technology enthusiast. I like to write, explore, bike, cook, watch baseball, and much more. The days are filled!

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