40th anniversary: Nolan Ryan’s 2nd no-hitter of 1973

Forty years ago today, Nolan Ryan had an utterly dominant performance, even by his standards. On July 15, 1973, he threw a no-hitter.

Now, as I’m sure everyone out there in reader-land knows, Ryan kind of had a thing for throwing no-hitters. While no one else in baseball history had more than four, Ryan had seven. True, but even for a Ryan no-hitter, this was a dominant performance. He fanned 17 batters on the day, more than in any of his other no-hitters.

Also, it was special because it was Ryan’s second no-hitter of the season. Few pitchers have had two in a year. Johnny Vander Meer famously threw back-to-back no-hitters in 1938. In the 1950s, Allie Reynolds and Virgil Trucks each had a pair of no-nos in one campaign.

In the 1960s, Reds ace Jim Maloney sort of did it. He twice allowed no hits in nine innings, but one game went into extra frames, when he allowed a hit (and thus lost the no-hitter). Since then, the only man to join the club is Roy Halladay, and there’s a quirk there, too, as his second gem came in the postseason.

Ryan’s game was against Detroit in Tiger Stadium, and he set the tone early, fanning two batters in the first and then striking out the side in the second. A few guys did get on base, because—Ryan being Ryan—he missed the strike zone. He issues walks in the first, fourth, fifth, and seventh innings.

But Ryan didn’t just get them out, he kept fanning them. He so dominated the lineup that at one point Tigers star Norm Cash came to the plate with a table leg. No bat was going to get him on base. Home plate umpire Ron Luciano later recalled that after he called strike three on guys, they told him, “Thank you!” and retreated back to the dugout. They knew what they were up against was impossible.

As impressive as 17 punchouts was, they happened despite Ryan tiring as the game went on. In the first five innings, Ryan fanned 12, including at least a pair in each frame. After seven innings, he had 16 and seemed destined to set a new single-game record.

However, it was not to be. Ryan fanned Ed Brinkman for the second out in the eighth but then had to rely on his defense the rest of the way as Jim Northrup, Mike Stanley, Gates Brown, and Cash all made contact with the ball, but all they could manage was a fly to center, a routine grounder to short, a line out to short, and then finally a pop-up to short.

At no point in the game did Ryan need left fielder Vada Pinson, and second baseman Sandy Alomar, third baseman Al Gallagher, and right fielder Tommy McCraw each had just one chance in the game.

In all, it was an amazingly great game, and it was 40 years ago today.

Aside from that, many other baseball 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

4,000 days since Albert Pujols plays two innings at shortstop, his only time at that position.

4,000 days since Bud Selig fines Reds GM Jim Bowden for comparing a possible baseball strike to 9/11.

7,000 days since Curt Schilling loses his seventh straight decision, his worst-ever streak.

7,000 days since Sammy Sosa lays down his last sacrifice bunt. He has 7,706 more plate appearances left but no more sac hits.

7,000 days since Willie Wilson appears in his final game.

9,000 days since the Yankees sign free agent Steve Sax.

10,000 days since former Cy Young Award Winner La Marr Hoyt enters a drug rehab program. He’d been arrested for drug possession nine days earlier.

10,000 days since a natural-gas explosion in the Brewers’ spring training clubhouse injuries several people, most notably coach Tony Muser, who will need skin grafts to recover.

15,000 days since a Cubs victory pushes Leo Durocher’s career win-loss record 306 games over .500 (1,898-1,592), his all-time peak.

15,000 days since Jim Kaat walks in a run for the first time in nearly a decade.

30,000 days since AL owners unanimously vote William Harridge their new league president.

Anniversaries

1851 John Clapp, catcher, is born.

1871 First baseman Dan McGann is born.

1876 St. Louis pitcher George Bradley hurls the first no-hitter in National League history. It’s a 2-0 win over Hartford.

1878 Hall of Famer John Ward makes his big league debut.

1893 Cap Anson becomes the first skipper to win 1,000 games. (Well, not including the National Association, he’s the first). His record: 1,000-636.

1897 Switch hitter Tommy Tucker gets six hits in one game.

1901 Giants star Christy Mathewson no-hits the Cardinals in a 5-0 win.

1909 Brooklyn purchases future Hall of Famer Zack Wheat from Mobile of the Southern Association for $1,200.

1909 For the only time in his career, Ty Cobb legs out two inside-the park-home runs in one game.

1914 Hall of Fame umpire Tom Connally is tired of the heckling he’s getting from the Red Sox bench, so he ejects eight players.

1915 Hall of Fame Pirates center fielder Max Carey scores five runs in a 12-2 win over the Phillies.

1920 Babe Ruth hits his second of 12 career walk-off homers. This one ties his 1919 home run total of 29, which was the all-time single season record back them.

1921 Hall of Fame pitcher Waite Hoyt wins, giving him a career record of 20-19. It’ll stay over .500 from here on out.

1924 Ty Cobb bangs out his 600th career double.

1925 NL owners meet and decide to put a resin bag behind the mound.

1926 Hall of Fame second baseman Charlie Gehringer blasts his first home run. It comes off star pitcher Urban Shocker of the Yankees.

1927 Jim Bottomley hits for the cycle.

1929 Babe Ruth, age 34, legs out his 10th and final inside-the-park home run.

1932 Al Simmons has the game of his life, belting three homers in a game and adding a double. He hit two homers in a contest just two games previously. Teammate Jimmie Foxx hit three homers in a game a little earlier this week.

1932 Reds workhorse starting pitcher Red Lucas is pulled for a reliever for the first time since August of 1933, over 250 innings pitched ago.

1932 Satchel Paige no-hits the New York Black Yankees at Greenlee Field for the Pittsburgh Crawfords.

1933 Jimmie Foxx smashes his 200th career home run.

1934 Hall of Fame outfielder Heinie Manush hits his 100th round tripper.

1934 Cooperstown-bound first baseman Jim Bottomley hits his 200th home run.

1934 Dizzy Dean hits a solo home run and throws a complete-game shutout in a 2-0 Cardinals triumph over the Dodgers.

1934 Waite Hoyt has the best Game Score of his career: 89. It’s a complete-game shutout one-hitter. This victory is over the Braves, making him the first pitcher since Cy Young to defeat all 16 franchises. Later, Tom Zachary, Danny MacFayden, and Hank Borowy join the club, but that’s it before expansion.

1936 The Dodgers trade pitcher George Earnshaw to the Cardinals.

1936 Carl Hubbell, pitching in relief, walks in the winning run for a 5-4 Giants loss to the Pirates.

1937 Tully Sparks, hard-luck turn-of-the-century pitcher, dies at age 62.

1939 NL president Ford Frick authorizes nets to be put on foul poles due to a controversial foul/homer call at a Giants-Reds game.

1939 Giants shortstop Billy Jurges exchanges spit and punches with umpire George Magerkuth. Each are fined $250 and suspended 10 games.

1942 Cub pitcher Hi Bithorn sure isn’t happy with the bench jockeying by Dodgers manager Leo Durocher. And he sure isn’t very good at controlling his temper. Bithorn fires a baseball in Brooklyn’s dugout at Durocher.

1942 Judge Landis publicly states, “There is no rule, formal or otherwise, against the hiring of Negro players.”

1943 Washington releases Hall of Fame pitcher Lefty Gomez.

1945 Bob Elliott hits for the cycle.

1946 Brooklyn trades second baseman Billy Herman to the Braves.

1948 Mel Ott manages his last game. Leo Durocher soon will take over for the club.

1949 Yogi Berra enjoys the first of 19 career multi-home run games.

1951 The Yankees send Mickey Mantle to their minor league squad in Kansas City. He has 52 strikeouts.

1952 38-year-old former big leaguer Johnny Vander Meer throws a no-hitter against the Beaumont Roughnecks in the Texas League.

1951 Eddie Joost of the Philadelphia A’s hits a walk-off grand slam for a one-run A’s win.

1952 Walt Dropo is on fire, clocking 12 straight hits before finally making an out.

1955 Former Braves ace Johnny Sain pitches in his last game.

1956 In his first career start, Wally Burnette of the A’s throws a complete-game shutout.

1960 Brooks Robinson hits for the cycle.

1961 It’s Gene Mauch at his most Gene Mauch-iest, as the Phillies lay down five sacrifice bunts in one game. That’s the most he’ll ever call for (though he’ll tie it a few times).

1964 Mudcat Grant allows 13 hits but gets the shutout for a 6-0 Twins win over Washington.

1966 Earl Wilson, normally a pitcher, today is a pinch-hitter and hits a three-run homer.

1967 For the second time in three games, Harmon Killebrew hits two homers in a game.

1967 A Roberto Clemente line drive smacks Bob Gibson in his right leg, breaking his fibula. He faces a few more batters before leaving the game.

1968 The Yankees sign free agent Rocky Colavito.

1969 The Mets beat the Cubs, 9-5, pulling just three-and-a-half games behind them. Tom Seaver clicks his heels several times after the win, mocking Cubs third baseman Ron Santo.

1971 The Pirates beat the Padres, 4-3 in a wild, 17-inning game. The Prates tie it in the bottom of the ninth, 13th, and 16th before pulling out the win.

1972 Phil Regan appears in his last game.

1973 Willie McCovey homers for the 400th time.

1977 The Royals win, pushing Whitey Herzog’s career managerial record over .500 (229-288). It’ll stay on the good side of .500 from here on out.

1978 Rod Carew gets his 2,000th hit.

1978 Switch-hitter Larry Milbourne homers from both side of the plate in one game—and never has any other home runs all year long.

1979 Bobby Grich has the best one-game WPA performance by any batter in Angels history. He’s 4-for-5 with a double, homer, and drives in all five California runs in a 5-4 win for a 1.211 WPA. He wins it on a walk-off home run.

1979 In the minor leagues, the Geneva Cubs maul the Utica Blue Jays, 29-4.

1980 Johnny Bench belts his 314th home run as a catcher, passing Yogi Berra’s position record.

1985 The Players Association sets Aug. 6 as a strike date.

1986 In the All-Star game, Fernando Valenzuela fans five straight batters: Don Mattingly, Cal Ripken, Jesse Barfield, Lou Whitaker, and Teddy Higuera.

1987 The Indians trade Tony Bernazard to the A’s.

1988 Ivan DeJesus, shortstop, plays in his final game.

1988 Roger Clemens fans 16 in a Red Sox win over the Royals.

1989 Albert Belle makes his big league debut.

1991 Frank Thomas enjoys the first of 33 career multi-home run games.

1991 The Mets trade Ron Darling to the Expos.

1993 Cal Ripken hits his 278th home run as a shortstop, breaking Ernie Banks’ old record.

1994 The White Sox accuse Indians slugger Albert Belle of using a corked bat. Hilarity ensues, as Jason Grimsley crawls 100 feet above the ceiling tiles to switch Belle’s bat with a Paul Sorrento cork-less one.

1994 It’s one of the best pitchers’ duels of the decade as San Diego’s Andy Benes and the Mets’ Bret Saberhagen each have a Game Score over 90 (91 for Benes, 94 for Saberhagen). Benes fans 14 in nine innings, and Saberhagen strikes out 11 in 10 frames. It’s scoreless for 13 innings before the Padres win, 2-1 in 14 innings.

1996 For the first time in 14 years and 15 days, Cal Ripken plays third base.

1996 the Indians sign amateur free agent Victor Martinez.

1997 The Cardinals release Fernando Valenzuela, ending his big league career.

1997 The Expos announce the retirement of Lee Smith.

1998 The Mets sign amateur free agent Wily Mo Pena.

1999 Barry Bonds sets the all-time record with his 294th career intentional walk.

1999 Safeco Field opens in Seattle. It’s one of the best parks in all of baseball.

1999 Three straight pinch-hitters draw walks for the Rangers in the bottom of the ninth.

2000 Frank Thomas has a career-high six RBIs in one game.

2000 Red Sox batter Carl Everett accidentally head-butts an umpire during an argument against the Mets.

2000 The Twins trade Todd Walker to the Rockies.

2000 A near-mint 1909 Honus Wagner card sells at auction for $1.1 million.

2000 Detroit retires No. 23 for Willie Horton.

2001 It’s Negro Leagues Tribute Day in the majors. The Mets and Blue Jays wear uniforms of the New York Cubans and Chantham All-Stars. The Pirates are the Homestead Grays, and the Royals the KC Monarchs.

2001 The umpires file a grievance against MLB based on the usage of Questec cameras.

2004 Fred McGriff plays in his last game.

2005 Rafael Palmeiro gets his 3,000th hit.

2005 Albert Pujols belts his fifth career walk-off home run.

2005 Washington reliever Mike Stanton surrenders a walk-off balk for a 4-3 Brewers win in 10 innings. It’s Stanton’s first game with the club, too.

2006 Stephen Drew makes his big league debut.

2007 The Phillies lose their 10,000th game.

2008 The AL finally wins an extra-inning All Star Game, 4-3 in 15 innings. The previous nine games resulted in one tie and eight NL victories.

2009 The Phillies sign free agent Pedro Martinez.

2010 San Diego puts Mat Latos on the DL because he strained a muscle holding back a sneeze. Really.

2011 The Braves get their 10,000th win in franchise history.

2011 Jeff Karstens of the Pirates need just 83 pitches to throw a complete-game shutout of the Astros.

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