Four year apart, Phil Niekro and also Nolan Ryan, two of baseball’s ideal pitchers, acquired entry into the 3,000 strikeout club, each accomplishing the feat on freedom Day.

On July 4, 1980, Ryan came to be the 4th player to full 3,000 strikeouts if on July 4, 1984, Niekro came to be the nine to carry out so.

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Ryan remained in his an initial season v the Houston Astros and had already led the organization in strikeouts 7 times in his career once he struck the end the Reds’ Cesar Geronimo because that number 3,000.

But he was pulled in the 5th inning for providing up six runs on 5 hits, experiencing a loss that lugged him to 5-6 ~ above the season.

“Obviously obtaining beat takes the edge turn off the 3,000,” Ryan called the Washington Post ~ the game. “I was certainly aware of it prior to the game. Ns went out just trying come win and pitch well. Ns didn’t do either.”


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Phil Niekro played for the brand-new York Yankees for two periods (1984-1985). (National Baseball hall of Fame and also Museum)


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Niekro gotten in the organization in 1964 with the Milwaukee Braves and also spent a bulk of his job in Atlanta after the Braves moved south. Pitching for the Yankees in 1984, the struck out the Rangers’ Larry Parrish, who got to base via a passed ball on the strikeout, for his 3,000th K.

""I don"t location things favor this until I"m done. Ns don"t fear anybody. Ns don"t yes, really intimidate through this pitch,” Niekro called The brand-new York Times after ~ the game, introduce to his knuckleball.

Although on document the 2 were members the the very same elite group, Niekro and Ryan to be polar opposites on the mound. Niekro was 45-years-old and near the end of his career. But the knuckleball, constantly easy top top the arm, permitted him come win more than 100 games in the huge leagues after transforming 40.

""I"m not always sure that the knuckleball. Periodically it explodes ~ above me and also I don"t why,” Phil Niekro said The brand-new York Times prior to he take it the mound top top July 4, 1984.

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Ryan, top top the other hand, was just 33 and also had a once-in-a-lifetime arm, practically scaring every batter he ever before faced.

“Every hitter likes fastballs as with everybody likes ice cream cream,” room of Famer Reggie Jackson called Newsweek in 1975. “But friend don’t favor it when someone’s stuffing it right into you by the gallon. That’s exactly how you feel once Ryan’s throw balls through you.”

After Ryan struck out his 3,000th batter, he was nowhere close to finished. Just nine years later on in 1989, Ryan struck the end his 5,000th batter. Finishing his career with a document seven no-hitters, Ryan retirement in 1993 together the all-time strikeout leader v 5,714.

Niekro played three much more seasons ~ his milestone strikeout, retiring in 1987 through 3,342 Ks.