Happy 32nd birthday Matt Garza, threw Rays’ only no-no

mattgarzaHappy 32nd birthday to Matt Garza, who threw the only no-hitter in Tampa Bay Rays history.

On Monday, July 26, 2010, at Tropicana Field, Garza no-hit the Detroit Tigers for a 5-0 win. The Tigers’ Max Scherzer was also working on a no-hitter that night but lost it on a Matt Joyce grand slam in the sixth.

Garza’s no-hitter came just three months after another team exited the no no-no club — the Colorado Rockies. On April 17 of that year, Ubaldo Jiménez tossed a no-hitter at Turner Field for a 4-0 win over the Atlanta Braves.

With the Rockies and Rays getting their first no-nos, that left the New York Mets and the San Diego Padres as the only major league franchises without one.

Santana kicked the Mets out of the club in June 2012, and the Padres continue to await their

Ken Johnson, threw a no-hitter and lost, dies at age 82

Ken Johnson of the Colt .45's.
Ken Johnson of the Colt .45’s.
Ken Johnson, the only major league pitcher to throw a nine-inning no-hitter yet lose, died Saturday in Pineville, Louisiana, at the age of 82.

I had the honor of interviewing Johnson on May 2014 as I was just beginning to write Baseball’s No-Hit Wonders. He talked with me about that April 23, 1964 Houston Colt .45’s game against the Cincinnati Reds at Colt Stadium, in which he threw nine innings of no-hit ball yet lost 1-0.

The Reds clawed for that run on a ninth-inning bunt attempt by Pete Rose in which Johnson threw the ball into the outfield (it apparently wasn’t taboo to bunt to break up a no-no back then). After Rose advanced to third on a ground out, Vada Pinson stepped to the plate and hit a routine two-out grounder to second that was booted by Nellie Fox, allowing Rose to score.

The game remains the only nine-inning no-hitter lost by a single pitcher. The Orioles tandem of Steve Barber and Stu Miller duplicated the feat three years later.

Johnson seemed touched that someone still wanted to talk at length about that game.

“I can’t believe anyone still remembers,” Johnson told me.

We do remember, and we mourn the loss of a kind and generous man.

Memorial services are planned for Tuesday evening at New Life Community Church in Alexandria. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the church.

Baseball lost Bo Belinsky, 14 years ago today

belinskyautographBo Belinsky, the Los Angeles Angels rookie whose 1962 no-hitter thrust him into the Hollywood spotlight, died 14 years ago today.

On Saturday, May 5, 1962, the former Trenton pool shark no-hit the Baltimore Orioles at Dodger Stadium for a 2-0 win. Belinsky quickly became a darling of the tabloids, spending his nights drinking on the town and getting photographed with numerous female stars.

Five months after the AAA Las Vegas 51s honored the former major leaguer with a “Bo Belinsky Night,” Belinsky succumbed to a heart attack.

Read more about Bo Belinsky in “Chapter 29: Hollywood Hustle” of my upcoming book, Baseball’s No-Hit Wonders: More Than a Century of Pitching’s Greatest Feats.

Burdette, threw no-no for Milwaukee Braves, born 89 years ago today

Lew Burdette, who threw a no-hitter for the Milwaukee Braves in 1960, was born 89 years ago today.

On Thursday, August 18, 1960, Burdette no-hit the Philadelphia Phillies for a 1-0 win at Milwaukee County Stadium. Tony Gonzalez became the lone Philadelphia base runner after Burdette hit him with a pitch in the fifth inning. Gonzalez was quickly sent back to the dugout when Lee Walls lined into a 5-3 double-play.

Burdette, who spent five years in the New York Yankees’ minor league system, is best known for his performance in the 1957 World Series. He beat the Yankees in Game 2, Game 5 and Game 7 to lead the Braves to a title and win the MVP.

Burdette was also the winning pitcher in the 1959 regular season game in which the Pittsburgh Pirates’ Harvey Haddix threw 12 perfect innings, only to lose the game (and the no-hitter) in the 13th.
Burdette’s line that day was 13 IP, 0 R, 12 H, 2 SO, 0 BB.

Lincecum 1 of 3 to win consecutive Cy Youngs and throw 2 no-nos

The San Francisco Giants’ Tim Lincecum, who has tossed two career no-hitters, won his second straight Cy Young Award, six years ago today.

Lincecum is one of only three major league pitchers to win consecutive Cy Young Awards and throw multiple no-hitters. Lincecum won his NL Cy Young Awards in 2008-09. His no-hitters, both thrown against the San Diego Padres, came in 2003 and 2004.

The other two pitchers are:

  • Sandy Koufax — Consecutive NL Cy Young Awards from 1965-66, no-hitters for Los Angeles Dodgers in 1962, ’63 and ’64 and a perfect game in ’65
  • Randy Johnson — Consecutive NL Cy Young Awards from 1999-2002, a no-hitter for the Seattle Mariners in 1990 and a perfect game in 2004 for the Arizona Diamondbacks

Happy birthday Jonathan Sanchez, threw Giants no-no in ’09

Happy 33rd birthday to Jonathan Sanchez, who threw a no-hitter for the San Francisco Giants in 2009.

On Friday, July 10, 2009, Sanchez no-hit the San Diego Padres for an 8-0 win over the Friars at AT&T Park. Sanchez struck out 11 and walked none. The only runner to reach base was Chase Headley, who got on board on an error by third baseman Juan Uribe with one out in the eighth.

No-no thrower Vida Blue wins MVP, 44 years ago today

The Oakland Athletics’ Vida Blue, who in 1970 became the youngest modern-era pitcher to throw a no-hitter, became the youngest player to win an MVP award, 44 years ago today.

Blue was 22 when he earned the 1971 MVP award (as well as the 1971 Cy Young Award) with a 24-8 record and a league leading 1.82 ERA. Blue topped Sal Bando (.271, 24 HR, 94 RBI) and Frank Robinson (.281, 28 HR, 99 RBI) in the MVP voting, and edged out Detroit Tigers pitcher Mickey Lolich (25-14, 2.92 ERA) in the Cy Young voting.

On Monday, September 21, 1970, Blue no-hit the Minnesota Twins at Oakland–Alameda County Coliseum for a 6-0 victory. At 21 years, 1 month and 24 days, Blue set the new modern-era mark for a youngster. Looking back another century, the New York Giants’ Amos Rusie threw a no-hitter against the Brooklyn Grooms in 1891 at the age of 20 years, 2 months and 1 day.

Happy birthday Tom Seaver

seaver plaqueHappy 71st birthday to Tom Seaver, who threw a no-hitter for the Cincinnati Reds after thrice losing no-nos in the ninth for the New York Mets.

Tom Terrific finally got his no-no on Friday, June 16, 1978, just a day shy of the one-year anniversary of the trade that broke Mets’ fans spirit. Seaver struck out three St. Louis Cardinals and walked three for a 4-0 win at Riverfront Stadium.

The June 15, 1977, trade sent Seaver to the Reds in exchange for Pat Zachry, Doug Flynn, Steve Henderson and Dan Norman. That same day, New York dealt fan favorite Dave Kingman to the San Diego Padres for Bobby Valentine and Paul Siebert.

Happy birthday, ‘Doc’ Gooden

gooden postcardHappy 51st birthday to Dwight “Doc” Gooden, who won his first World Series with the New York Mets but threw his only career no-hitter for the crosstown Yankees.

At Yankee Stadium on Tuesday, May 14, 1996, Gooden no-hit the Seattle Mariners for a 2-0 win, striking out five while walking six. It was his first year back in baseball after sitting out the 1995 season.

Gooden twice reached the eighth inning with no-hitters intact during his 11 seasons with the Mets:

  • On June 6, 1984, Gooden had a no-no going but yielded a lead-off single to the Pirates’ Doug Frobel. The Mets won 2-1 in 13 innings, with Tom Gorman getting the “W.”
  • Four years later, on June 5, 1988, Gooden again reached the eighth inning and again lost it on the lead-off hitter. This time it was the Cubs’ Damon Berryhill, who singled. Gooden held on for an 11-3 complete-game victory.
  • Wednesdsay marks the 31st anniversary of Gooden winning the National League Rookie of the Year award.

Happy 51st birthday Kenny Rogers

gamblerHappy 51st birthday to Kenny Rogers, who knew how to hold ’em against the California Angels on July 28, 1994.

The Texas Rangers’ southpaw on that day popped the halos off 27 consecutive Angels batters to toss the majors’ 14th perfect game at The Ballpark at Arlington. Rogers struck out eight batters and had some help from center fielder Rusty Greer in the ninth inning when he made a diving catch to preserve the perfecto.

It was only the third perfect game thrown by a lefty, putting Rogers in a club with the Los Angeles Dodgers’ Sandy Koufax (1965) and the Cincinnati Reds’ Tom Browning (1988).

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