OTD in 1974, California Angels’ pitcher Nolan Ryan strikes out a then record-tying Major League record 19. Whose record did he tie? His own! During the 1974 season Ryan struck out 19 batters in 3 different games (June 14, August 12, & August 20). But 1974 was not the first year Ryan had 19 strikeouts in a game.
In 1966, pitching for the Greenville Mets of the Western Carolinas League, a 19-year old Nolan Ryan struck out 19 in a game on June 11 against the Spartanburg Phillies — setting a Western Carolinas League record. Ryan pitched in 29 games (28 starts) for Greenville in 1966, going 17-2 with a 2.51 ERA and 272 strikeouts in 183 innings. Yes, 272 Ks which equates to almost 1 1/2 strikeouts PER inning. The ’66 Greenville Mets finished 2nd in the league with an 86-40 record behind Spartanburg, who won 91. When asked about his season in Greenville, Ryan responded, “I have very fond memories of Greenville because we had a very good team.” In 2014, Ryan was inducted into the Greater Greenville Baseball Hall of Fame.
Ryan was interviewed by the Greenville News in 2014 about his time with the 1966 Greenville Mets: https://www.greenvilleonline.com/story/sports/2014/07/02/nolan-ryan-fondly-recalls-season-greenville/12123863/