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Happy Anniversary: Nolan Ryan signs richest deal in sports history

By Matt Snyder | Baseball Writer

We don't need reminders as to how much salaries in professional sports have skyrocketed in the last 25 or so years. Anyone paying attentions knows that players make leaps and bounds more now than in the 1970s.

Still, this one is a bit mind-boggling. It was on the this day 34 years ago (Nov. 19, 1979) when free agent starting pitcher Nolan Ryan signed with the Houston Astros, setting a new record for professional athletes with his at-the-time staggering deal.

The contract terms? Four years and $4.4 million. Yes, he was the first player to ever get at least $1 million per year. In today's game, that's backup catcher money.

Among other things, Ryan would set the MLB record for career strikeouts while in an Astros uniform:

Ryan would end up making a tick over $25 million in his 27-year playing career (via baseball-reference.com). Phillies catcher Carlos Ruiz just signed a three-year deal worth more than that. I understand it's apples vs. oranges to a certain extent as the value of the dollar is different, but still, that's quite a divide.

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