For most of the Angels' history, the team's roster has had a reputation as a retirement community for aging stars. As a result, the team has had an extraordinary seven Hall of Famers play for it—Reggie Jackson, Rod Carew, Frank Robinson, Hoyt Wilhelm, Don Sutton, Nolan Ryan, and Dave Winfield—but none of them were inducted as an Angel. (An eighth, Eddie Murray, will likely be added to the list in 2003.)
Ryan, the best player in the team's history, had great numbers for the Angels. He pitched four no-hitters, hurled a major-league record 383 strikeouts in 1973, and one season won 22 games for a last-place team that went 68-94, notching nearly a third of the team's wins. In another season, he tossed two no-hitters and nine shutouts. During his eight seasons with the Angels, Ryan went 138-121, a .533 winning percentage. As a team, the Angels were .481.
But he pitched only 291 of his 777 games as an Angel. The team, unwilling to pay him a then-record$1 million salary, let him go as a free agent after the 1979 season, when he went 16-14. The Angels' general manager suggested that Ryan could be replaced with "two 8-7 pitchers."
But Ryan achieved more as an ex-Angel than he had as an Angel. After winning 138 games in Anaheim, he won 157 with his next two teams (the Astros and the Rangers), and he threw three more no-hitters. As an Angel, he struck out 2,416 batters, but he struck out 2,805 after he left. In 1999, Ryan entered Cooperstown as a Texas Ranger. To add insult to the Angels' injury, his Hall of Fame plaque concludes, "A Texas legend whose widespread popularity extended far beyond his native state."