I picked this card to trade for because it had two guys I'd heard of on it. At the time, 1982, I actually knew more about Steve Carlton than Nolan Ryan. Carlton had been the best player I pulled out of my first pack of cards, 1981 Fleer. This 1973 Topps Strikeout Leaders card was and is my oldest Nolan Ryan or Steve Carlton card. These two mound magicians topped 300 strikeouts and far outdistanced the field in their respective leagues.
The 310 k's for Carlton would be his career high. He had 286 k's a couple of times, but would never top 300 again. He would go on to win 4 Cy Young awards as well as one Gold Glove.
Ryan's 329 k's in 1972 ranks as only his 4th best season total. He would follow up this 329 with the modern day record of 383 k's.
I remember Ryan and Carlton having such close strikout totals for a time. After the 1984 season, Carlton had 3872 and Ryan had 3874. That was the last time they would be close. From 1985 to 1988 (his last 4 seasons) Carlton had only 264 strikouts. That put his career totals at 4,136 K's. From 1985 to 1992 ( his last 9 seasons), Ryan had 1,840 strikouts. That put Ryan's career totals at 5,714 K's.
The fact that Nolan Ryan later pitched for the Rangers is just a bonus when it comes to owning this card.