Today (August 20th) is the 34th anniverary of Nolan Ryan setting the Guiness Book of World Records fastest pitch record. Here's something I wrote over at The Halo Is Lit.
On August 20th, 1974 against the Detroit Tigers, Ryan went for the fastest pitch record. I had spent the summer of 1974 in Alaska with my brother and his family, as he was in the Air Force and was stationed outside of Fairbanks. Back then, there wasn't much satellite coverage for T.V. (if at all) causing all of the programs to be two weeks behind the "lower 48" and the news was a couple days later too, making it harder to follow my favorite team. Upon my return home and for my approaching birthday, my mom took me to an Angels game that featured Ryan going for the Guiness Book of world records for the fastest pitch thrown. Since having a guy sitting behind the plate with a Juggs gun was still a few years away, aerospace contactor and builder of the Apollo space vehicle, Rockwell International, were called in to set up their sophisticated measurement gear to record the velocities of Ryan's pitches. At the time, my mom worked for Rockwell and I remember thinking it was pretty cool that her company was responsible for measuring the pitches and she had, what I thought, a small role in the event. I don't remember much about the actual game, but when doing research for this piece at Baseball-Reference, it appears to have been a really good game. Ryan dueled Tigers' pitcher Mickey Lolich for 11 innings, with both pitchers throwing complete games, but Ryan ended up getting the loss by allowing a single and stolen base to Ben Oglivie and a run scoring single to Bill Freehan in the top of the 11th. These were only two of the four hits Ryan allowed in the game, which also included 19 strikeouts. The results of the measurements of Ryan's pitches weren't shown until after the game and were displayed inning-by-inning on the Big A scoreboard. I don't remember the exact inning Ryan broke the record, but I do know it was late in the game, either the 7th or 8th. They showed the results for each inning, with a pause between each to build the suspense. When they finally showed the record breaker of 100.9 MPH, the crowd went wild...well about as wild as 12,000 fans can go.