This annotated week in baseball history: Sept. 19-Sept. 25 1958by Richard Barbieri
September 23, 2010
On September 20, 1958 Hoyt Wilhelm threw a no-hitter against the New York Yankees. That remains the last time a single pitcher no-hit the Bronx Bombers. Richard looks back at this and other franchise no-hitter records.
Everyone—at least everyone in the strange, obsessive circles of baseball fandom I spent my time in—knows that the New York Mets have never thrown a no-hitter. Of course, despite this, the Mets have been on the “wrong” side of a no-hitter six times, most recently in 1993 when the late Darryl Kile no-hit them in the Astrodome.
While their record of no-hitters for and against is nothing to be proud of, Met fans can at least take comfort knowing that while their ratio stands at -6, the San Diego Padres have likewise never seen a pitcher throw one, but have been on the receiving end of seven no-no’s. This total is especially inglorious when you consider that franchises like the Pirates, who have been around much longer, have fewer no-hitters against them, and their expansion-mate Expos have only been held hitless four times.
Meanwhile, other franchises have even better histories when it comes to no-hitters. The Yankees have been no-hit six times in their history, but as noted in the introduction, no single pitcher has done it since Hoyt Wilhelm in 1958. The Yankees’ most recent no-hitter came at the hands of six Astros pitchers in 2003.
While the Yankees are battling tooth-and-nail (even as I write this) with the Tampa Bay Rays for first place in the AL East, if the tiebreaker came down to no-hitters, the Rays would be in trouble. They were no-hit twice this season, putting them at a negative ratio, even with Matt Garza’s July no-no against the Tigers.
Being no-hit is nothing new for the Rays; the franchise has suffered that fate four times. That is being no-hit a rate of one just over every three seasons, easily the highest rate of any current franchise and probably an unsustainably high percentage. Strangely, though the Rays have been hugely dire most of their history—even with recent success, they are still more than 250 games under .500 for their history—only one of their no-hitters (by Derek Lowe, in 2002) came during their dismal days. The other three have occurred within the last two seasons.
|Matt Garza, owner of the most recent no-hitter (Icon/SMI)|
While the Rays surely have the record for being no-hit by “rate,” other franchises have far higher totals. In the entirety of their history, dating to the 1870s, the now Atlanta Braves have been no-hit an astonishing 16 times. Though Braves followers in both Boston and Atlanta had to endure their team being no-hit, the team managed to avoid that fate during their time in Milwaukee.
(If you were wondering, the Brewers have been no-hit in their history three times, so whatever magic kept the Braves from being held hitless apparently did not transfer to the erstwhile Seattle Pilots.)
While the Nationals have not experienced either the good or bad of no-hitters during their time in Washington, the city they left behind did have a notable no-hitter accomplishment. On April 17, 1969 Bill Stoneman—later the successful general manager for the Angels—pitched a no-hitter for the Expos. This was just Stoneman’s fifth career start, but more to the point, it was just the ninth game in Expos’ history. No modern major league franchise has ever managed a no-hitter so briefly into their history.
For good measure, Stoneman would go to pitch a second no-hitter a few years later, giving himself and the Expos the first no-hitter pitched in Canada.
While the Yankees can claim to have avoided a no-hitter by a single pitcher since 1958, other teams have even more impressive, and still active, streaks. Since Sandy Koufax pitched his no-hitter—a perfect game—against the Cubs in September of 1965, the Northsiders have never been no-hit. The Pirates, meanwhile, have not been no-hit since 1971 when Bob Gibson did it. Gibson’s feat was also only the second no-hitter the Pirates had suffered since 1929.
Other franchises have their no-hitter distinctions from various forms of doubling up. For the Browns, the accomplishment came in May of 1917 when they no-hit the White Sox on back-to-back days, first with Ernie Koob and then Bob Groom. Unusually, while the Browns did it on back-to-back days, it was not back-to-back games, because the second day was a double header and the Browns threw their no-hitter in the second game.
Meanwhile, the Giants halfway matched that achievement in 1968. On September 17, Gaylord Perry no-hit the Cardinals, doing so with little margin for error as the Giants won 1-0. Perhaps being guilty of celebrating a little heartily the night before, the next day the Giants found themselves on the receiving end of a no-hitter, as St. Louis’ Ray Washburn shut them down.
In another bizarre double, the Cubs, Reds and Expos are the only teams to have two pitchers throw a nine-inning no-hitter only to lose their no-hitter in extra innings. Even stranger, all three had their lost no-hitters in relatively close proximity. In 1904 Bob Wicker lost his no-hitter in the tenth inning, while Hippo Vaughn lost his in the 1oth inning in 1917.
For the Reds, Joe Black—pitching in relief of both Johnny Klippstein and Hersh Freeman—allowed a double in the 10th inning of a May 1956 to lose the no-hitter. In June of 1965 Jim Maloney, having already pitched 10 innings, allowed a leadoff home run in the 11th inning, costing him his no-hitter against the Mets.
Finally, Mark Gardner lost a no-hitter in the 10th inning for the Expos in 1991 while Pedro Martinez lost his no hitter (and perfect game, as it happens) in the 10th inning less than five years later.
Pitching a no-hitter is, for an individual, a rare combination of luck and skill. For a team, avoiding such a fate on a daily basis is fairly ordinary, but battling the law of averages—as the Cubs have been doing since 1965—to manage at least a hit every day is no small feat. This is also true for the Mets who have yet to achieve a no-hitter despite names like Seaver, Gooden and Santana pitching regularly.
But someday these teams will have their no-hitter, for or against, and a new streak will begin.
Questions, comments and thinly veiled threats can be mailed to Richard on the back of a twenty dollar bill or e-mailed to him at RichardBarbieri@yahoo.com