"No way I'll ever throw again"
The historic 27-year career of Nolan Ryan ended on September 22, 1993, just two scheduled starts short of his retirement, when he left in the first inning of Wednesday night's 7-4 loss to the Mariners at Seattle because of a suspected torn ligament in his right elbow.
"It's got to be it," Ryan said. "There's no way I'll ever throw again. It's a hell of a way to end a career. This whole year has been a nightmare."
The Mariners scored five runs against Ryan, including a grand slam by Dann Howitt, and won the game behind the pitching of Dave Fleming (11-4).
Larry Pedegana, a Mariner team physician, examined Ryan after his 28-pitch performance and said he suspected the future Hall of Famer has a torn ligament. "As far as the standpoint of helping the ball club, I've been real frustrated because I haven't been able to help the ball club in the pennant race. And they certainly could have used me." The Rangers fell 5 1/2 games behind first-place Chicago in the AL West.
Ryan had been on the disabled list three times in 1993, a total of 114 days. He had torn cartilage removed from his right knee in April and also was sidelined because of a strained left hip in May and a strained muscle in his lower left rib cage last month. Ryan, 46, failed to retire a batter before being taken out of the game with a 3-and-1 count against Dave Magadan. Ryan walked four and gave up two hits in his 773rd major league start and 807th appearance. Ryan's last road start was finished while some of the 40,184 fans were still filing into the Kingdome. For only the third time in his career, Ryan failed to retire a batter. Howitt's first grand slam was the 10th given up by Ryan, one of the 53 major league records that Ryan holds or shares. Ryan holds the career grand slam record by himself.
The crowd gave Ryan a standing ovation when he walked to the mound to start the game and the fans gave him another ovation when he left. Ryan walked into the locker room after being replaced by Steve Dreyer and then returned to the field to wave to the crowd. Ryan made his 13th start of the season and was scheduled to make two more, next Tuesday against Oakland and on Oct. 3 against Kansas City in the last game at Arlington Stadium. Ryan also failed to retire a batter in 1971 for the New York Mets against St. Louis and last season for the Rangers against the New York Yankees.
Ryan finished with a 324-292 record and is tied for No. 11 with Don Sutton in career victories. Along with over 300 wins, he has seven no-hitters and 5,714 strikeouts - both major league records. "Everyone has visions of things turning out different than they really do," Ryan said. "But I can't really say I ever sat around and fantasized about how I would have liked to have ended my career. But I think if I had, it certainly would have been with a strong performance in a pennant race. I guess by striking out the last hitter."