In a previous post, I talked about Rick Stelmaszek not being one of the 7 different catchers to catch a Nolan Ryan no-hitter. Stelmaszek and Ryan share another connection.
After going 0-9 for the Washington Senators in 1971, Stelmaszek did not appear in the majors in 1972. By 1973, the Senators had become the Texas Rangers and Stelmaszek was back in the majors with them.
Stelmaszek started the season going 0-8 in his first six games of action. In the 7th game, on May 19, 1973, Stelmaszek replaced Ken Suarez behind the plate in the bottom of the 7th inning.
In the top of the 9th, with the Rangers trailing 9-1 to the Angels, Nolan Ryan was going for a complete game, having surrendered just 3 hits. Vic Harris lead off with a groundout. Stelmaszek stepped to the plate with 1 out. He laced a line drive to short right-centerfield for his first major league hit. Jim Mason batted next, hitting into a double play and ending the game.
In his 18th at bat, in his 13th major league game, Stelmaszek had gotten his first hit and it was off of a future Hall of Fame pitcher, Nolan Ryan. It would be Stelmaszek's only hit and his last game with the Rangers. The next day, Stelmaszek was traded to the California Angels, where he would become teammates with Ryan. I wonder if Stelmaszek's hit off of Ryan had anything to do with the Angels dealing for him.