Back in the early 90s, 40-something flame-thrower, Nolan Ryan, had some serious heat in our hobby. I remember doing a book report on his autobiography in the 5th grade. Imagine that, a barely literate immigrant reading up on the life and times of Texas native, Nolan Ryan. I still loved everything Jose Canseco but “The Ryan Express” was just too cool to pass up.
Thankfully, the card industry recognized this and aimed to cash in on Ryan’s popularity. There were tons of baseball cards of Nolan from the big players in the hobby but it was the work of two oddball companies that really caught the attention of this pint-sized baseball card collector back in those days.
The first card comes from Parts Unknown and features a very senior Nolan Ryan absolutely pounding on Robin Ventura. The fight cemented Ryan’s status as one tough S.O.B and made collectors go crazy for his cards, if they weren’t already. Unfortunately, none of the big companies ever featured this specific moment on a card.
Thankfully, someone with a fancy printer and a little bit of cash went and made his own version. I want to say it looks like something Pacific Trading Cards may have produced but there is no copyright information on the front or back of this card. It does state that only 15,000 copies were printed, so that’s something.
The next card actually DID come from Pacific and its 110-card set of nothing but Nolan Ryan cards. I’ve personally never been a fan of any of Pacific’s work and was glad to see them go after a “game-used” Manny Ramirez cork card hit the market. Still, for a kid collecting his heroes, this card was as cool as they came.
You can pick up full sets of the Nolan Ryan Pacific set for under $10 dollars on eBay. It’s a real treat for any Nolan Ryan fan or a young collector who maybe wasn’t around in 1991 or hasn’t been exposed to the all-time strikeout King. In fact, neither of these two, very unique cards will cost you much.