40th anniversary: First Rangers no-hitter

When the sun rose 40 years ago today, on July 30, 1973, 20 of the 24 major league teams had ever had a no-hitter. When the day ended, their ranks had risen to 21.

On July 30, 1973, the Rangers celebrated the first no-hitter in franchise history, courtesy of the right arm of Jim Bibby.

Bibby had originally been in the Mets farm system. (And the Mets, along with the Padres, Senators/Rangers, and Brewers, were the only squads without any no-hitters heading into July 1973.) However, the club traded Bibby to St. Louis in October 1971. By this time he was an aging prospect—he turned 27 shortly after the Cardinals got him—and they didn’t think he was good enough for the big leagues.

After just a dozen appearances with the big league squad over a year and a half, the Cardinals sent the now 28-year-old Bibby to Texas. The Rangers were desperate for pitching. Actually, the Rangers were just plain desperate. They lost 100 games in the strike-shortened 1972 campaign and were plodding their way to a horrible 105-loss record in 1973.

Was Bibby a 28-year-old non-prospect? Congratulations. On this club, he still had a chance to prove himself. Rookie manager Whitey Herzog used Bibby as a swingman in his first few appearances, but on June 29, 1973, Bibby made a start that gave him a firm place in the rotation. He threw a complete game one-hit shutout over the Royals. Only a double by the ninth hitter in the KC batting order deprived Bibby of a no-hitter. Just think: if it weren’t for catcher Fran Healy, Bibby would be one of the few men in history with two no-hitters in one season.

Bibby suddenly became the staff ace. In his next outing on July 3, he allowed one unearned run and got another win. Ten days later, he fanned 13 in a complete game win, and followed that up with two more double-digit K performances in his next three starts. After all those years of waiting, Bibby was seizing his moment.

And he never seized it more than on July 30, 1973. Bibby wasn’t supposed to be the star of that game. No, he was facing the defending world champion Oakland A’s. It was supposed to be their day. The star should’ve been opposing starter Vida Blue, a phenom for the A’s in 1971. Though he’d had his rough spots in the time since then, he was a far bigger name than Jim Bibby.

However, the first inning was a disaster for Blue. Jeff Burroughs, easily the most dangerous batter in the Texas batting order, smashed a grand slam, and role player Bill Sudakis followed with a solo shot for a 5-0 Texas lead.

Bibby hadn’t taken the mound yet, but he’d already been given a comfortable lead. Playing in Oakland’s pitcher-friendly stadium, Bibby would show that five runs were more than enough. Against the star-studded Oakland lineup of Sal Bando, Reggie Jackson, Bert Campaneris, and Gene Tenace, Bibby was on fire. He struck out the side in the second, and then did it again in the fourth. He retired 12 of the first 13 batters he faced, walking Jackson.

His control faded in the middle innings, as he walked another batter in the fifth, still another in the sixth, and two more in the seventh. But that wasn’t what people were paying attention to. The complete lack of hits was the interesting thing.

Heading into the bottom of the ninth it was 6-0 Texas, with Bibby three outs from a no-no. He walked Bando to begin the frame, but then Jackson whiffed for the second time on the day. It was Bibby’s 13th K.

Just two outs away, Bibby made it look easy. The A’s couldn’t even get the ball out of the infield against him, with a grounder and a routine pop up. That was fitting—only four times all day had the A’s hit the ball out of the infield. Bibby had done it—he’d thrown a no-hitter.

It ended maybe the best month of his career, as Bibby allowed 30 hits in 60.2 innings, fanning 60 while posting a 4-2 record with a save and a 1.78 ERA.

However, things quickly turned south on him: He allowed five runs in six of his next eight starts. But he did have that no-hitter, the first in franchise history, exactly 40 years ago today.

Aside from that, many other events today celebrate their anniversary or “day-versary” (which is something that happened X-thousand days ago). Here they are, with the better ones in bold if you’d rather just skim.

Day-versaries

2,000 days since Brian McNamee gives a seven-hour deposition to the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.

4,000 days since Craig Biggio bounces into two double plays in one game. It’s the only time he ever does that. He ends his career with just 150 GIDP in 12,504 PA.

4,000 days since Alex Rodriguez hits three home runs in one game for Texas.

7,000 days since Houston releases reliever Mitch Williams.

8,000 days since Lou Gehrig’s 1938 road jersey auctions off for $220,000.

8,000 days since Jim Thome makes his big league debut.

8,000 days since in the season finale for the Rochester Red Wings, both Shane Turner and Tommy Shields play all nine positions.

8,000 days since the qualifying asterisk on Roger Maris’ single season home run record is removed.

9,000 days since the Reds trade Lloyd McClendon to the Cubs.

10,000 days since Toronto signs free agent Cesar Cedeno.

15,000 days since Nolan Ryan fans eight straight Brewers during a 2-1 victory for the Angels.

Anniversaries

1884 Lon Knight gets six hits in one game while hitting for the cycle.

1890 Casey Stengel is born.

1892 Hall of Fame 300-game-winner Tim Keefe allows the only grand slam of his career. Fellow Cooperstowner Hugh Duffy hits it.

1901 Ban Johnson says the American League will have a club in St. Louis in 1902.

1901 Star second baseman Nap Lajoie hits for the cycle.

1904 Jack Taylor of the Cardinals has a terrible day, throwing seven wild pitches and walking seven batters. Gamblers bet heavily on the opposing Pirates before the game, causing rumors to swirl that fix was in. No, Taylor responds—he was just out drinking far too much and far too late the night before and the gamblers noticed the opportunity before them.

1906 The New York Supreme Court rules that the Dodgers are violating Sunday laws by asking for “voluntary contributions” instead of paid admission for home games on that day.

1907 Reds manager Ned Hanlon announces that this will be his last season in the dugout. He’ll later enter Cooperstown for his managerial record.

1908 The A’s purchase terrific hitter Shoeless Joe Jackson from Greenville in the Carolina Association for $1,000.

1909 Christy Mathewson loses, ending a personal winning streak of 13 games.

1911 The all-time cumulative record for the St. Louis Cardinals falls to .500 (1,411-1,411). It will be under .500 for the next 32 seasons.

1914 Giants catcher Chief Meyers has a day from hell, making three errors on bad throws, and missing first base when he belts a double. (He’s out on an appeal play.)

1915 Jesse Barnes makes his big league debut. He’ll lead the 1919 NL with 25 wins and post 20 more wins in 1920.

1916 Charlie Grimm makes his big league debut.

1917 The Tigers have a monster day as Ty Cobb, Bobby Veach, and Ossie Vitt all go 5-for-5. Bonus: they are slotted next to each other in the batting order. Tigers 16, Senators 4.

1920 Rogers Hornsby enjoys the first of 21 multi-home run games.

1922 The Boston Braves trade Hugh McQuillan to the Giants for Larry Benton,Fred Toney and a third player plus $100,000. I barely know who McQuillan is, but it’s safe to say the Braves wildly overpriced him in this deal.

1922 Max Carey, who hits 70 homers in 10,770 career plate appearances, nails two in a game for the second straight day. He’ll do it again two days from now.

1924 Wilbur Cooper posts his 195th win as a Pirate, passing up Sam Leever as all-time franchise wins leader. He still is.

1928 Joe Nuxhall, pitcher turned broadcaster, is born.

1928 Hall of Fame slugger Chuck Klein is born.

1929 Pinky Whitney does something rare—hits a double, two triples, and a homer—but misses the cycle by a single.

1930 Catcher Gus Triandos, who caught Hoyt Wilhelm’s knuckler in Baltimore (and later became a conversation subject in a memorable scene of The Wire), is born.

1930 Hall of Fame outfielder Goose Goslin has perhaps his worst day ever at the plate, going 0-for-5 with three strikeouts. He has just one other three-K game, and he had a hit in that one.

1931 Mickey Cochrane sets a personal best with six RBIs in a game. He’s 4-for-4 with two homers in an 8-5 A’s win over the Browns.

1933 The Cubs release aging spitballer Burleigh Grimes.

1933 Dizzy Dean fans 17 in a game, setting a modern record. It’s the only time he ever whiffs more than 11 batters in a game.

1934 Bud Selig, the longest lasting commissioner since Judge Landis, is born.

1935 Fritz Ostermueller can’t find the plate, walking 12 batters, but gets the win anyway in a complete game four-hitter (with four runners scoring).

1936 The Red Sox become the fist team to make an official flight to the next game. Five players skip it, fearing air travel.

1936 Waren Giles is named interim NL president at the funeral for Charles Knapp. Giles will later make the Hall of Fame, as typically happens for league presidents who last a long time.

1938 Hank Greenberg ties a Babe Ruth record with his ninth home run of the week.

1939 Hank Greenberg scores five runs in a game for the only time, helping the Tigers pummel the A’s, 14-0.

1940 Yankees pitcher Red Ruffing is one of the best hitting hurlers of all-time, and of his 36 career homers, only one comes off a fellow Hall of Famer—and it’s right here. Ruffing goes deep off young Hal Newhouser.

1941 Brooklyn claims temperamental pitcher Johnny Allen off waivers from the Browns.

1941 Mickey Welch, 300-game winner, dies at age 82.

1941 Howie Shanks dies at age 51. He led the 1921 AL in triples, with 18.

1947 Ewell Blackwell’s winning streak ends at 16 games.

1948 Wally Westlake hits for the cycle.

1950 Bobby Doerr belts his 200th home run. He’s just the 28th player to do it.

1950 Phillies batter Del Ennis uncorks his second grand slam in three days. In that same game, star pitcher Robin Roberts has his third straight complete game shutout. He’s allowed eight walks and 14 hits over these 27 innings.

1951 Joe DiMaggio screws up. He loses track of the outs and trots off the field after catching a routine fly for the second out. The Tigers score a run on this mistake.

1951 Ty Cobb testifies before Congress that the reserve clause turns players into “peons.”

1952 New commissioner Ford Frick sets the waiver rule to bar inter-league deals until all clubs within one league have a chance on a player.

1953 Boston University buys Braves Field for $500,000.

1955 The Yankees trade former ace Eddie Lopat to the Orioles.

1957 Clint Hurdle, manager, is born.

1957 Philadelphia’s Ron Northey ties a then-record by swatting his ninth pinch hit home run.

1957 Steve Trout, pitcher, is born.

1958 Warren Spahn beats the Dodgers for the first time since 1951.

1958 Infielder Scott Fletcher is born.

1959 Willie McCovey makes his debut—and boy, does he ever. He goes 4-for-4 with a pair of triples.

1960 Art Mahaffey makes a memorable debut on the mound. He picks off the first batter to reach base against him—and the second batter, too. .

1961 Al Kaline’s longest hitting streak peaks a 22 games.

1961 The White Sox blow a 7-0 lead, losing 9-8 in 10 frames to Boston.

1966 White Sox pitcher Gary Peters needs just 75 pitches to win, 6-0.

1966 Gene Oliver becomes the first Atlanta Brave to hit three homes in a game. Other Braves have done it, but in the team’s pre-Atlanta existence.

1966 Hank Aaron’s wife, Barbara, is involved in an incident entering the team’s parking lot. Various stories exist, but the upshot is that the police arrest her—and then three cops are suspended three weeks each for their actions.

1966 Jay Johnstone, colorful batter, makes his big league debut.

1967 Toy Cannon Jimmy Wynn legs out his only inside the park home run.

1968 Bob Gibson completes his 13th straight start, which is also his 26th straight Quality Start. In the complete game streak, he’s 12-1 with a 0.70 ERA. In the Quality Start streak, he’s 17-6 with a 0.90 ERA.

1968 Norm Siebern, first baseman/left fielder, appears in his final game.

1968 Washington Senators shortstop Ron Hansen has an unassisted triple play, the first one in the majors in 41 years.

1969 Atlanta’s Bob Tillman hits three homers in one game.

1969 Flint Rhem, pitcher, dies at age 68. He led the 1926 NL with 20 wins.

1969 Jimmy Wynn hits the first of four career grand slams. It helps his Houston Astros score 10 runs in an innings—something they do in both games of today’s doubleheader against the Giants. In one game, Willie McCovey draws a walk in all four plate appearances.

1969 Baltimore wins, propelling Dave McNally to a record of 15-0, and giving him 17 straight wins overall. The streak will peak here.

1971 The Indians fire manager Alvin Dark.

1971 Dave Kingman makes his big league debut.

1973 Lou Brock steals his 600th career base.

1978 Montreal batter Larry Parrish hits three homes in a game. It’s the second time he’s done that. Montreal destroys the Braves 19-0, courtesy of 28 team hits.

1979 Seattle signs amateur free agent Ivan Calderon.

1980 Houston fireballer J.R. Richard suffers a stroke during a workout. He’s complained that he’s felt off for a while, but the club accused him of malingering.

1983 Don Sutton loses his 200th decision, giving him a record of 265-200.

1983 Joe Carter, RBI god, makes his big league debut.

1985 Young Dodgers second baseman Steve Sax is so happy when he hits a walk-off home run that he high-fives third base coach Joey Amalfitano so hard that it breaks the coach’s thumb.

1985 The Texas sign talented teenager amateur Sammy Sosa.

1986 Graig Nettles enjoys his 27th and final multi-home run game.

1990 Baltimore trades Phil Bradley to the White Sox for Ron Kittle.

1990 Commissioner Fay Vincent puts Yankees owner George Steinbrenner on the permanently ineligible list for his actions toward Dave Winfield. He’ll be moved to the non-permanent list and let back to full ownership duties.

1990 Jack Clark smacks his 300th home run.

1991 Allen Conkwright, the last living person to have played for former Tigers manager Hughie Jennings, dies.

1991 Paul Molitor joins the 2,000 hit club.

1992 Eric Young makes his big league debut.

1993 The Royals, Yankees and Cubs make a three-way trade that sends Paul Assenmacher to New York, Tuffy Rhodes to the Cubs, and John Habyan to Kansas City.

1995 Chili Davis is charged with disorderly conduct after slapping a heckler.

1995 For the second straight year, Jeff Bagwell suffers a broken bone in his hand after being hit by a pitch. It’s the fourth metacarpal bone in his left hand.

1995 John Kruk retires—in mid-game. He gets a pinch hit to preserve his career .300 average and then asks to be removed immediately. He’s done.

1995 Jim Deshaies, pitcher, appears in his last game.

1996 Andy Pettitte sets a personal worst when he allows 10 runs in a game. He’ll later tie this.

1996 Boston makes a pair of trades. The Red Sox send Kevin Mitchell to the Reds, and give the Mariners Jamie Moyer for Darren Bragg.

1996 Jesus Tavarez posts the best one-game WPA for someone without any plate appearances in the game. He enters as a pinch runner and advances on a wild pitch and balk for a 0.498 WPA.

1996 Montreal trades Kirk Rueter to the Giants.

1997 David Wells fans 16 batters, easily the most in his career. It’s a complete game, three-hit shutout.

2000 Tom Glavine posts his 200th win for a 200-121 record.

2000 Rickey Henderson draws five walks in a game, something which happened to him once before, back in 1982.

2001 Minnesota trades outfielder Matt Lawton to the Mets for pitcher Rick Reed. This breaks up the Twins’ “Soul Patrol” outfield of Lawton, Jacque Jones, and Torii Hunter, three excellent fielding African-Americans.

2001 Pittsburgh trades pitcher Jason Schmidt to the Giants.

2001 The Padres trade Sterling Hitchcock to the Yankees.

2002 The Expos trade Cliff Floyd to Boston.

2003 Anaheim releases former ace Royals pitcher Kevin Appier.

2003 The Reds trade Jose Guillen to the A’s for Aaron Harang and two others.

2003 White Sox shortstop Jose Valentin hits three homers in one game for the second time in his career.

2004 For the second time in his career, Cubs third baseman Aramis Ramirez clubs three homers in one game.

2004 The Marlins send Hee Seop Choi, Brad Penny and another player to the Dodgers for Paul Lo Duca, Guillermo Mota and Juan Encarnacion.

2004 The Royals trade Jose Bautista to the Mets for Huber, and the Mets immediately flip Bautista to the Pirates.

2004 Bret Boone appears in his last game.

2004 The Mets make a trade that utterly infuriates their fans, sending highly touted young pitcher Scott Kazmir to the Rays for Victor Zambrano and another player.

2004 The Pirates trade Kris Benson to the Mets for Jose Bautista in a five-player transaction.

2005 Tampa’s Jonny Gomes hits three homers in one game.

2004 The Padres trade Phil Nevin to Texas for Chan Ho Park and cash.

2005 Seattle sends Randy Winn to the Giants.

2006 Carlos Beltran hits two homers in a game for the second straight day.

2007 The Reds trade durable Kyle Lohse to the Phillies.

2007 The Twins send Luis Castillo to the Mets.

2008 Detroit trades Ivan Rodriguez to the Yankees for Kyle Farnsworth.

2008 The Yankees trade reliever LaTroy Hawkins to the Astros.

2009 The New York Times publishes that sluggers David Ortiz and Manny Ramirez are among the 104 names on the 2003 PED list.

2010 Arizona trades innings-eating starting pitcher Edwin Jackson to the White Sox.

2010 Cleveland trades Austin Kearns to the Yankees.

2010 The Rockies get a 12-run inning against the Cubs, thanks to 11 straight hits—all coming with two outs in the bottom of the eighth. Colorado wins handily, 17-2.

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Comments

  1. Jim said...

    If the Giants were willing to pay, then that was McQuillan’s value on that day.  Sounds like a bail-out transaction.

    Spahn pitched no more than an inning-plus during 1954-1957 vs. the Dodgers.  They had his number so bad, the Braves would jiggle their rotation to avoid having him start.

  2. Carl said...

    I remember the JR Richard stroke very sadly.  Hard to imagine a ballplayer being treated that way today – thank goodness

  3. Chris J. said...

    Jim – There were also connections between the Braves owners and the Giants owners.  They did a ton of trades at that time and there was some concern that it wasn’t all on the up-and-up.  If you’re familiar with the KCA-NYY trades of the 1950s, it was a similar controversy.

    Almost no lefties started against the Dodgers in the mid-1950s.  Going purely from memory, in one year there was just six starts versus the Dodgers by LHP.  Spahn was just easily the most famous pitcher to be kept away from them.

  4. Jim said...

    Really.  Being a Dodgers fan (first) and later (when they moved) a Braves fan, I had never heard that lefties overall had trouble.  I did know about Spahn.  Thanks for the enlightenment.

  5. Chris J. said...

    Jim -looking it up for a bit.  The 1955 Dodgers saw 11 LHP starting pitchers all year long.  In 1956, it was 14. It 1957, it was SIX.  These totals were far fewer than any other team.

    That didn’t make them unique.  The 1942 Reds saw 2 LHP starting pitchers all year long.  Two.

    This sort of platooning starting of pitchers was common back in the day, though almost never extreme as it was in these cases.  I wrote two columns about it when I first joined THT:
    http://www.hardballtimes.com/main/article/pitcher-platoon-leveraging-sp-lev-part-5/

    http://www.hardballtimes.com/main/article/platoon-leveraging-data-dump-starting-pitcher-leveraging-part-6/

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