How Fast Did Nolan Ryan Actually Throw?

Nolan Ryan was one of the most dominant pitchers in Major League Baseball (MLB) history. During his illustrious 27-year career, he amassed an incredible seven no-hitters and struck out an MLB-record 5,714 batters. He also set multiple records for the fastest pitch ever recorded, leading many to wonder: just how fast did Nolan Ryan actually throw?

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Early Beginnings

Nolan Ryan was born in 1947 in Refugio, Texas. He grew up playing baseball and by the time he was in high school, he was already throwing hard and getting attention from college scouts. In 1965, he was drafted by the New York Mets, and he made his MLB debut in 1966.

Right from the start, Ryan was throwing with incredible velocity. In 1967, his first full season in the majors, he threw the fastest pitch ever recorded in MLB history, clocking in at 100.9 mph.

Over the years, Ryan continued to throw harder and harder. He would regularly hit triple digits, and he set a new record in 1974 when he threw a pitch at an incredible 103.5 mph.

The Debate

But how fast did Nolan Ryan actually throw? As it turns out, this is a matter of some debate. Ryan himself estimated that his fastest pitch was somewhere around 107 mph, but there are no official records of a pitch that fast.

The fastest pitch on record is 103.5 mph, but some observers have estimated that Ryan could throw even faster than that. According to former Oakland Athletics pitcher Catfish Hunter, “The fastest pitch I ever saw was Nolan Ryan’s. I’d guess it was around 105 miles an hour.”

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It is possible that Ryan could have thrown a pitch faster than 103.5 mph, but because the technology for accurately measuring pitch speed was not available during his career, it is impossible to know for sure.

The Legacy

Regardless of how fast Nolan Ryan actually threw, there is no doubt that he was one of the most dominant pitchers in MLB history. He retired in 1993 with 324 wins and an incredible 5,714 strikeouts—both of which remain MLB records to this day.

He was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1999 and is widely regarded as one of the greatest pitchers of all time. So, while we may never know for sure just how fast Nolan Ryan threw, his legacy as one of the best of all time remains intact.