I picked on Nolan Ryan in the previous post, so now let me provide some balance. Today is the 26th anniversary of Ryan breaking Walter Johnson's strikeout record. So, for today's History Lesson, we turn to tHeMARksMiTh, proprietor of one of the better baseball history blogs you're going to come across, Way Back and Gone:
In 1983, Nolan Ryan and Steve Carlton were approaching Walter Johnson's strikeout record. Johnson's impressive total of 3,509 strikeouts was about to be eclipsed by one of the two pitchers. Johnson had accomplished his feat in an era where strikeouts were not common, but he also pitched more innings, giving him more opportunities. Regardless, toward the end of the 1982 season, Ryan and Carlton were switching places on the all-time list with each passing start. Neither were spring chickens, but Ryan (36) was two years younger than Carlton (38) and figured to pitch longer. Little did anyone know, Ryan would go on to pitch 10 more seasons while Carlton only threw 5 more.
On April 27, 1983, Ryan won the race. In a game against the Expos, Ryan would take down Brad Mills for his 3,510th strikeout. Carlton sat at 3,480, 30 behind.
As we all know, Carlton was nearing the end of his usefulness as a pitcher in 1983, while Ryan had a decade's worth of near-dominance left in the tank.
Still doesn't make his tough guy anti-pitch count policy any brighter.