On November 19, 1979 — The Houston Astros sign free agent pitcher Nolan Ryan. The former California Angels ace and future Hall of Fame member signs a four-year deal worth $4.5 million, making him the highest-paid player in major league history.

After inking the richest contract in sports, the ‘Ryan Express’ becomes the first baseball player to earn a million dollars per year. The Texas native comes to Houston after a long career with the Mets and the Angels where he notched four no-hitters and set numerous strikeout records. It marks the first significant signing for the franchise since the advent of free agency in 1975.

Ryan will pitch 9 seasons for the Astros winning 106 games and he has the club record for strikeouts with 1866.


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