Advertisement
YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections

AMERICAN LEAGUE CHAMPIONSHIP SERIES: ANGELS VS. MINNESOTA

Ryan Put Fast One by Twins

October 08, 2002|Lisa Dillman

If it hadn't been for Jim Holt ...

Who knows what would have happened if Nolan Ryan hadn't struck out the right fielder Holt of the Minnesota Twins on Sept. 26, 1973, at Anaheim Stadium? Ryan may not have eclipsed Sandy Koufax's season strikeout record of 382. The other option would have been trying to pitch the last game of the season on two days' rest. "It was going to be my last start," Ryan said of the legendary game against the Twins in a 1989 interview with The Times.

He needed 16 strikeouts to do it, and manager Bobby Winkles nearly pulled him once a wild Ryan fell behind, 3-0. Winkles opted to let him pitch to one more batter, Holt, according to "Nolan Ryan Fireballer," by Bill Libby. Ryan stuck out Holt ... and the rest was history.

Not exactly. History wasn't that smooth in one of the most memorable Angel-Twin games. Facing a lineup that featured Rod Carew, Harmon Killebrew and Tony Oliva, Ryan started to tire by the seventh inning. He had 14 strikeouts through seven--including three against Carew--and needed one to tie Koufax, and two to pass him. Ryan tied the record by striking out Steve Brye in the eighth inning but came down hard off the mound and suffered what was later diagnosed as a torn calf muscle. The team trainer and doctor worked on his right leg in the dugout between innings.

Then came another incongruous development. With the score tied, 4-4, it became clear that most of the crowd didn't want the Angels to score to win because it would have meant the worst-case scenario--no record that night for Ryan. The ninth and 10th went by with no Ryan strikeouts. Finally, in the 11th, a weary and wounded Ryan left Koufax behind, striking out Rich Reese for his 16th strikeout and No. 383 of the season. The crowd gave Ryan a five-minute standing ovation.

"That was one time," Ryan said, smiling, "where not scoring runs paid off for me." Oh yes, there was the matter of the final score. The Angels won it in the 11th, 5-4, almost as though they had permission to score once Ryan made history.

Advertisement
Los Angeles Times Articles
|
|
|