Nolan Ryan was one of the greatest pitchers in Major League Baseball history. He holds numerous career records, including the all-time lead in no-hitters with seven, shutouts with 61, and strikeouts with 5,714. It’s no surprise then that Ryan’s baseball cards, especially from his early career, are highly coveted by collectors. One of the top companies to feature Ryan during the peak of his playing days was Pacific Trading Cards.

Pacific was a dominant baseball card manufacturer from the late 1960s through the 1980s. They produced high quality cardboard that captured action shots of the game’s biggest stars. In 1969, Ryan’s second season in the majors, Pacific issued his rookie card as part of their Designer Set. This colorful and stylish card showcased a action photo of the flamethrower in his Angels uniform. While it lacked statistics on the back, it represented one of the earliest widely available cards of the future Hall of Famer. High grade versions of this card can fetch over $1,000 today.

In 1970, Pacific upped the ante by including Nolan Ryan in their premier baseball card set – the M101-1A “Blue Backs” issue. This iconic 100 card release from Pacific’s “101 Card” brand became one of the most storied sets in the industry. Featuring a elegant design with statistics on the reverse, Ryan’s second year card captured him in an Angels batting practice jersey. In NM-MT condition, it can sell for upwards of $2,000 due to Ryan’s superstar status and the set’s significance. The same year, Pacific also put him in their Sporting News All-Star Collection.


1971 was a breakout season for Ryan as he began establishing himself as one of baseball’s most intimidating hurlers. He led the American League with a 1.96 ERA and recorded the second highest strikeout total of his career. Pacific commemorated Ryan’s dominance by including him in their high grade M101-3A set. On this Light Blue Back issued card, a intense action shot showed Nolan ready to unleash one of his blazing fastballs. Surpassing the $3,000 price point in top condition, it’s one of the most investment worthy cards from the early portion of Ryan’s career.

Prior to the 1972 campaign, Ryan was shockingly traded from the California Angels to the Texas Rangers. This blockbuster deal shook up the baseball landscape and increased intrigue around the flamethrower. Looking to capitalize, Pacific put Nolan in two premier releases that year. Their M101-4A set featured perhaps the most classic photo of Ryan on card, staring straight ahead in his Rangers uniform with ball perched high in his hand. The parallel M102-4A issue repeated this same iconic image. Both are valued at over $4,000 in Gem Mint condition.


After two seasons leading the American League in strikeouts with the Rangers, Ryan entered the 1974 season with tremendous expectations. He did not disappoint, recording a then single season record of 383 strikeouts. To acknowledge Ryan’s otherworldly pitching performance, Pacific issued one of their most sought after modern era cards. The M101-6A Green Back captured Nolan mid follow through with ball exploding from his hand. Only the third season of the decade he wasn’t the AL strikeout king, it sells for around $6,000 pristine. That same year, Ryan also appeared in Pacific’s glossy Photo Stat Set, another premium release at the time.

Ryan’s dominance continued unabated for most of the 1970s. In 1976, he struck out a personal best 277 batters and tossed his first no-hitter for the Rangers. That season, Pacific honored him with placements in two must-have sets – their M101-10A Green Back issue and parallel M102-10A Red Back variation. Both feature stellar photos and have earned grail card status, with high grade copies changing hands for $7,500 or more. They marked the last seasons Pacific seriously focused on the superstar hurler before winding down production in the early 1980s.


In summary, Pacific Trading Cards was on the forefront of showcasing Nolan Ryan during the peak of his pitching prowess in the 1970s. From his rookie season through his record breaking years with the Angels and Rangers, Pacific commemorated Ryan’s greatness through inclusion in their premier annual sets. Examples from this period in top condition can be considered the crown jewels of any Ryan collection, or an sound investment holding. They capture an iconic athlete and brand during the “Golden Era” of the hobby. For baseball card collectors and investors, Pacific’s Nolan Ryan cards from this time period remain highly sought after treasures decades later.

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