There had been successful pitchers from Texas from baseball's earliest days, but right-hander Nolan Ryan, from tiny Alvin, became the archetype. Talented. Strong but silent. Rawhide tough. All traits backed up by 324 wins, 5,714 strikeouts, seven no-hitters and induction into the Hall of Fame in 1999.
It's hardly a stretch to suggest that Dodgers left-hander Clayton Kershaw, born and raised in Dallas, is the best pitcher in Major League Baseball now. He won the National League Cy Young Award two of the last three years. The season he didn't win, he finished second. If Kershaw holds his lead in ERA and WHIP, it will be the fourth straight season he's paced the league in those categories. And he's only 26 years old.
That only begins to hint at the rich heritage of Texas pitchers. According to baseball-reference.com, there are 468 Lone Star-born players who have taken the mound in a big league game. Here's a look at the best of the rest from today, from the time after Ryan made his debut in 1966 and long ago.
The Kershaw Era (active pitchers from Texas)
Josh Beckett. The Spring native grew up idolizing Ryan and Roger Clemens. He won 20 games for the Red Sox in 2007. In Beckett's 14-year career, he has more innings pitched than hits allowed. In three World Series starts, he has a 1.16 ERA and was voted MVP of the 2003 Fall Classic while pitching for the Marlins and MVP of the '07 ALCS with Boston. And Beckett pitched his first career no-hitter in May.
Homer Bailey. The right-hander from La Grange is only 28, but he already has a pair of no-hitters on his resume. The first came in 2012 at Pittsburgh, the second the following year against the Giants at Great American Ball Park.
John Lackey. The Abilene native helped the Angels win their first World Series title as a rookie in 2002 and the Red Sox win it all last season. He's made 19 postseason appearances and has won 150 regular-season games.
Huston Street. Only 31, the Austin product is well on his way to joining the 300-save club. Street is a two-time All-Star (2012, '14) who won the American League Rookie of the Year Award for the Athletics in 2005, just a year after he was drafted out of the University of Texas.
Clay Buchholz. Despite his struggles this year, the right-hander from Nederland has been a mainstay for the Red Sox. Last season, Buchholz went 12-1 with a 1.74 ERA in 16 starts. He's made two All-Star teams and is still just 30 years old.
Worth noting: Dillon Gee (Cleburne), John Danks (Austin), Jarred Cosart (League City), Nathan Eovaldi (Houston), Mike Adams (Corpus Christi), Chris Young (Dallas), Shelby Miller (Houston), Scott Kazmir (Houston), Logan Ondrusek (Halletsville)..
The Ryan Era (retired)
Clemens. Seven Cy Young Award and an MVP Award. Case closed. All right, Clemens was born in Ohio. But he spent most of his high school career in Texas, pitched at San Jacinto College and then at the University of Texas. Clemens lives in Houston. And, to be fair, we're not claiming Hall of Famer Greg Maddux (San Angelo) or 300-save reliever Joe Nathan (Houston), because while they were born in the Great State, they grew up elsewhere.
Kerry Wood. Before his career was waylaid by injuries, the Grand Prairie product was one of baseball's most dominant pitchers. Wood fanned 20 in a game as a rookie, going on to win the 1998 NL Rookie of the Year Award, and he struck out more than 200 in four of his first five seasons.
Burt Hooton. In just his fourth Major League start, the right-hander from Greenville pitched a no-hitter for the Cubs. Traded to the Dodgers, Hooton became a mainstay of one of baseball's best staffs for nine years, and he ended his career with 151 wins and a 3.38 ERA.
Doug Drabek. In his first eight big league seasons, the Victoria native won 108 games and had a 3.21 ERA, a stretch that included winning the NL Cy Young Award for the Pirates in 1990. After the strike of 1994-95, Drabek never regained that form, and he retired after the 1998 season with 155 wins.
Danny Darwin. The "Bonham Bullet" won 171 games in his career despite being used both as a starter and in relief. Darwin was also known as one of the toughest competitors of his era.
Worth noting: Mike Timlin (Midland), Woody Williams (Houston), Doug Rau (Columbus), Arthur Rhodes (Waco), Mike Jackson (Houston), Greg Swindell (Fort Worth), Jerry Don Gleaton (Brownwood), Ron Davis (Houston), Joe Horlen (San Antonio), Gary Bell (San Antonio), Ray Culp (Elgin).
Old-Timers Era (before 1966)
Hippo Vaughn. Nicknamed for the way he ran, the Weatherford left-hander won 178 games in a 13-year career that ended in 1921. A workhorse, Vaughn won 20 games five times and 19 once. In the 1918 World Series against the Red Sox, he pitched three complete games with a 1.00 ERA but won only once.
Firpo Marberry. One of the first pitchers to be used exclusively in relief, the Streetman right-hander led the AL in saves six times and was even more successful when starting, with 94 wins for a .644 percentage in that role to go along with his 53 relief victories from 1923-36.
Worth noting: Ned Garvin (Navasota), Pete Donohue (Athens).
Paul Hagen is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.