Card captures essence of Nolan Ryan

April 15th, 2021

As part of the celebration of the 70th anniversary of Topps baseball cards, we've asked fans (as well as our staff) to submit their all-time favorite baseball cards, and we've broken them down by team. We'll be revealing submissions regularly throughout the season, ranging from the famous to the weird, and everything in between.

Rangers: Nolan Ryan, 1992 Fleer

What’s more Nolan Ryan than a smoking baseball?

So when it comes to a great Rangers baseball card, this one is a great choice. The 1992 Fleer set, with its turquoise borders and bold lettering for player names is aesthetically pleasing, and there are some select cards that feature artwork rather than a photo.

That’s the case with this Ryan card, which has him holding a smoking baseball with his back to the viewer but his head turned toward the viewer. He’s also standing in front of a wall with a tally being kept of all his strikeouts.

Eric P. of Tualatin, Ore., submitted this card, and he pretty much summed it all up with his description of it:

“Captures the essence of Nolan Ryan. The smoking ball, the strikeouts adding up on the wall and his face. His face says so many different things, but mainly ‘you think you can hit my fastball?’”

The answer for most Major League hitters during Ryan’s era was “not a chance.” That’s evidenced by his Major League-record 5,714 strikeouts and seven no-hitters. That triple-digit fastball certainly made it seem like there should be smoke rising from its surface. -- Manny Randhawa

Iconic Rangers card: Ivan Rodriguez, 1991 Score Rookie/Traded set

This was submitted by Christian Kline of Austin, Texas, who wrote:

"Having thousands of baseball cards from all eras, I consider my collection to be top notch for only being 24 years old. I have an extreme passion for the sport of baseball, with the Texas Rangers being my personal favorite team. With that being said, my 1991 Ivan 'Pudge' Rodriguez rookie card rated a perfect 10 in mint condition by PSA is one of my most treasured cards. Pudge was one of the greatest catchers behind the plate in the modern era of baseball. I was lucky enough to be in attendance when the Rangers retired his number and inducted him into the Texas Rangers Hall of Fame. It is a memory I will always remember and cherish."

The 1991 season was Rodriguez's first in Major League Baseball. He debuted that June, beginning a run of 12 seasons with the Rangers during which he hit 215 homers, made 10 American League All-Star teams and won 10 Gold Glove Awards.

Texas retired Rodriguez's No. 7 in 2012, and he was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame five years later. -- Thomas Harrigan