OBSERVATIONS: Did Nolan Ryan really throw 235 pitches in one game

By Hal McCoy

UNSOLICITED OBSERVATIONS from The Man Cave after a great meal at Sky Asian. To me, it’s a toss-up: Sky Asian or Shen’s. I say ‘yes’ to both.

—The fact that Nolan Ryan allegedly threw 235 pitches in one game was rampant on Facebook last week. And it is alleged. They didn’t count pitches in 1974, so somebody estimated.

Nevertheless, it was an incredible day — June 14, 1974. California Angels manager Bobby Winkles permitted Ryan to pitch 13 innings. He struck out 19 and walked 10. He left after 13 innings with the score tied, 3-3.

What is lost in this unbelievable game is that Boston manager Darrell Johnson permitted starter Luis Tiant to pitch all 14 1/3 innings of the game, losing in the 15th, 4-3.

While Ryan ’s pitch count was estimated at 235, no estimate was ever given for El Tiante. What is known for sure, other than Ryan’s 19 strikeouts and 10 walks, is that Boston’s Cecil Cooper went 0 for 8 with six strikeouts. The only player in Boston’s starting lineup who didn’t whiff at least once was Carlton Fisk. He was 3 for 7 with no strikeouts.

Any manager who left a pitcher in for 13 innings or 14 1/3 innings these days would be unemployed the next day, black-balled from baseball forever. and probably hanged from the clubhouse rafters with a pair of stirrup socks, if they could find a pair.

QUOTE: From former Boston Red Sox manager Darrell Johnson: “If a man put a gun to my head and said, ‘I’m going to pull the trigger if you lose this game,’ I’d want Luis Tiant to pitch that game.” (Wonder who was holding the gun to Johnson’s head the day he sent Tiant out to face Nolan Ryan?)

—Country singer Charley Pride passed away last week from COVID-19 complications and as a friend said, “Now he can really kiss an angel good morning.”

As most fans of the legendary singer know, Pride loved baseball and pitched professionally in the minors, including in the Cincinnati Reds system.

Former Los Angeles Times baseball writer Ross Newhan tells a story of Pride’s last professional day, an event Newhan witnessed.

It was 1961, the first year of the California Angels and Pride was in camp. But he was released and was leaving camp with no money. Said Newhan, “The equipment manager made Pride a tuna sandwich and wrapped it up. Pride tucked it into his pocket and walked out the door.”

And nobody ever had to ask, “Whatever happened to Charley Pride?”

—QUOTE: From Country Charley Pride: “There only have been two people on this earth that I was nervous around, Chet Atkins and Mickey Mantle. It’s because of the respect I have for them.” (That certainly shows his love for music and baseball.)

—If we can’t have ‘The Game,’ give me Army-Navy. If all the pageantry doesn’t give you chills you probably don’t feel the needle from a cortisone shot.

I once had a friend who taught at West Point and he was a huge Reds fans. While I was with the Reds in New York he invited me to West Point for a personal tour.

The ride on the train from Grand Central Station up the Hudson River was spectacular, worth the trip alone, without seeing West Point.

Then. . .the tour. Breath-taking. As we walked around among the castle-like structures, every cadet saluted him. I saw the cadet living quarters, classrooms, Eisenhower Hall and even a room where cadets with too many demerits were disciplined. I saw the cadet chapel and a panoramic view of the campus from a bluff high above it, where Constitution Island was visible and the home of traitor Benedict Arnold across the Hudson.

Best of all, though, I stood at the 50-yard-line of the then-empty Michie Stadium and felt the biggest chills of all. You could almost hear the roars, even though the stand were eerily empty.

Those memories roared back Saturday as I watched the game and laughed at a pre-game sign that read: ‘Army kicks the ship out of Navy.’ And they did, 15-0, but both teams always win in this game.

—QUOTE: From President/General Dwight D. Eisenhower, a West Point graduate who loved baseball: “Not making the baseball team at West Point was one of the greatest disappointments of my life, maybe the greatest.”

—Wright State’s basketball team should apply for membership to the Mid-American Conference. After destroying Miami of the MAC at home, 71-47, the Raiders rocked Bowling Green Sunday, 85-67.

BeeGee is favored to win the MAC and hardly ever loses at home, three times in the last three seasons. The Raiders played a near-perfect first half, leading, 54-21. Loudon Love had a double-double at halftime (14 points, 10 rebounds). And during the first half he became WSU’s all-time career rebounder.


—QUICKIE QUIZ: Who is tougher to watch, the Cincinnati Bengals or the Cincinnati Reds?

—Some time this week, the Cleveland Indians will announce they plan to drop their nickname. They’ll keep it for next season, then drop ‘Indians’ in 2022.

No replacement will be announced, but I still like ‘Cleveland Rocks.’

—The Landing Spot for Trevor Bauer: Flip a coin and heads it’s the New York Mets and tails it’s the Los Angeles Angels.

—As it turns out, Michigan had only nine positive COVID-19 cases in its entire athletic program, not just football players, the week it canceled out of ‘The Game’ with Ohio State.

Meanwhile, Minnesota’s ‘Row the Boat’ Gophers, missing more than 30 players, not only showed up at Iowa, they won 24-17.

—University of Kentucky basketball coach John Calipari is a soothsayer. Before playing Notre Dame he said, “The only way we can win is with a buzzer-beater.”

Incredibly, UK fell behind by 24 at the half, but barged back and trailed by one with 11 seconds left. As Calipari said, UK’s Olivier Sarr had an uncontested ten-foot shot to the right of the hoop and could have won it. He missed. Notre Dame 64, Kentucky 63

—Why I’m not enamored with soccer. Two of the biggest names in world soccer played over the weekend to much fanfare. Final score. . .well, no score. . .Manchester United 0, Manchester City 0. Or, in soccer vernacular, nil-nil.

—As gag, I’m getting my bald Uncle Charlie a hair dryer for Christmas.

One thought on “OBSERVATIONS: Did Nolan Ryan really throw 235 pitches in one game”

  1. Hal,
    Another great “Cave Man” column! When I was the assistant athletic trainer at Ohio University, we played Army at West Point in ice hockey. What a thrill – seeing the beautiful campus, eating in the mess hall with the Cadets, and of course playing the game. We actually had a very good hockey team in 1969 and beat the Cadets!
    As for 235 pitches for Nolan and same or more for Tiant – WHY?!
    Not too many better than Charlie Pride – Rest in Peace.
    Thanks again for your great writing – keep it up.

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