On July 31, 1990, Nolan Ryan won his 300th game in the majors, an 11-3 blowout for the Texas Rangers over the Milwaukee Brewers at County Stadium.

It was a fairly typical performance for the Ryan Express, as he struck out eight and gave up three runs (one earned) on six hits and two walks over 7 and 2/3 innings.

Later that summer, Upper Deck released their high-number series, adding 100 cards to their base set, bringing the total to 800.

Card #734 in that late run featured Ryan staring down the camera against a perfect blue sky with even perfecter fluffy white clouds.

1990 upper deck nolan ryan 734 no stripe

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Flipping the card over, you find that it’s actually a celebration of Ryan’s sixth no-hitter, a masterpiece against the Oakland A’s on June 11, 1990:

1990 upper deck nolan ryan 734 back

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So, what does this card have to do with Ryan’s 300th victory?

Well, some of the cards were issued with a red stripe in the lower righthand corner to commemorate that second milestone:

1990 upper deck nolan ryan 734 300th win stripe

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Based on the numbers in the PSA Population Report, the striped version is actually 4-5 times more plentiful than the cards with no stripes.

It’s not entirely clear why or how the two variations came to be, but it could be related to the cards’ distribution.

That high-number series was available as a 100-card factory set, and also as part of the full 800-card factory set.

But the cards were also available in a late-season run of foil packs, which contained a mix of all 800 cards, not just the highs — less of each card than you would get with a pure-one-series run. So, it could be that the more scarce, no-stripe cards were in the packs, while the striped versions were in the factory sets.

Whatever the case, both versions of the card show up in perfect PSA 10 condition more than any other grade.

At that pristine level, the striped version sells for about $30, while the no-stripe version brings more than $100 most of the time, according to recent auction prices realized.

Both versions drop to $20 or less in PSA 9 and lesser grades.

Maybe the most amazing thing about the whole ball of wax is that Ryan could legitimately combine these two huge milestones on one card, something no mere mortal could claim.

No wonder Upper Deck got confused!

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