PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- Add this to the endless list of Nolan Ryan feats: The Orioles' new downtown stadium figures to become the 35th park in which he has pitched a major-league game.
Ryan no doubt will be delighted with the Orioles' new home. He hated pitching at Memorial Stadium so much, he should have attended the closing ceremonies and torched the mound.
His record on 33rd Street was 4-10. When he beat the Orioles there last April 20, it was his first victory in Baltimore since May 18, 1975.
"I can't say there was anything wrong with the ballpark, except in my opinion, it was a football field," Ryan said yesterday.
"Baltimore always played me tough there. Back in
Earl's days," he said of the Orioles under Earl Weaver, he'd put the little lefthanders in [the lineup]. They didn't strike out much. He tried to manufacture runs.
"They always had a good pitching staff, and I didn't play for clubs that scored a lot of runs. When we went in there, they were always tough ballgames."
Now Ryan can relax. The Rangers' first visit to Camden Yards is May 4-5. If Orioles fans are smart, they'll pray he starts one of those games and pitches a no-hitter.
Seriously, it's a good omen. According to the Elias Baseball Analyst, Ryan's last three no-hitters have come against eventual division champions -- Los Angeles in 1981, Oakland in '90 and Toronto in '91.