ARLINGTON -- Nolan Ryan hadn't thought about it, but Tuesday was the 39th anniversary of his May 15, 1973, no-hitter against the Royals -- the first of his seven no-hitters and the first of three no-hitters in the history of Kauffman Stadium. "I remember certain things about it because it was a big moment in my career that I never anticipated -- throwing a no-hitter. Never even thought about it," Ryan said. "So when it happened, it obviously was very exciting and meaningful."
Ryan, now president of the Texas Rangers, was then a hard-throwing, 26-year-old right-hander for the California Angels. In the 3-0 victory, he struck out 12 and issued three walks.
"Amos Otis was the last out, and Amos and I had been teammates, so I knew him pretty well," Ryan said. "He hit a long fly ball to right-center for the out. In that ballpark, that's a good place, because when people hit the ball in the air, there's a good chance you'll get him out." Right fielder Ken Berry made the catch; he'd replaced Bob Oliver, who had homered, defensively in the seventh inning. Others of note in the Angels' lineup that day were designated hitter Frank Robinson, one of Ryan's fellow Hall of Famers, and center fielder Bobby Valentine, now the Red Sox's manager. The Royals' lineup included manager-to-be Lou Piniella in left field and first baseman John Mayberry, who struck out in all three at-bats against Ryan. That day also happened to be George Brett's 20th birthday -- he turned 59 on Tuesday -- but at that time, he was still in the Minors. Brett debuted with Kansas City later that year on Aug. 2, and he and Ryan would retire on the same day as the 1993 season ended at old Arlington Stadium. "I never viewed myself as a no-hit pitcher and I had no reason to think I'd ever be in that position again. So it was the start of a very interesting period in my career," Ryan said. Two months later, on July 15, 1973, Ryan no-hit the Tigers at Detroit and would pitch five more no-hitters in his career.