During a major league record 27-year baseball career, he pitched in 1966 and from 1968 to 1993 for four different teams: the New York Mets, California Angels, Houston Astros, and Texas Rangers. He was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1999.
Ryan, a hard-throwing, right-handed pitcher, threw pitches that were regularly recorded above 100 miles per hour (161 km/h). The high velocity remained throughout his career, even into his 40s. Ryan was also known to throw a devastating 12–6 curveball at exceptional velocity for a breaking ball.
While his lifetime winning percentage was .526, Ryan was an eight-time MLB All-Star, and his 5,714 career strikeouts rank first in baseball history by a significant margin. He leads the runner-up, Randy Johnson, by 839 strikeouts. Similarly, Ryan's 2,795 bases on balls lead second-place Steve Carlton by 962 — walking over 50% more hitters than any other pitcher in Major League history. Ryan and Sandy Koufax are the only two pitchers inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame who had more strikeouts than innings pitched. Other than Jackie Robinson (whose number was retired by the entire MLB), Ryan is currently the only major league baseball player to have his number retired by at least 3 different teams: the Angels, Astros, and Rangers.
Ryan is the all-time leader in no-hitters with seven, three more than any other pitcher. He is tied with Bob Feller for most one-hitters, with 12. Ryan also pitched 18 two-hitters. Despite the seven no-hitters, he never threw a perfect game, nor did he ever win a Cy Young Award. Ryan is one of only 29 players in baseball history to have appeared in Major League baseball games in four decades and the only pitcher to have struck out seven pairs of fathers and sons.