Lou Criger, Cy Young’s favorite catcher who caught two of his no-hitters, was born 144 years ago today.
Criger caught Young’s 1897 no-no for the Cleveland Spiders during the opening game of a September 18 doubleheader at Cleveland’s League Park. The Spiders topped the Cincinnati Reds 6-0. Criger was also behind the plate for Young’s May 5, 1904, perfect game for the Boston Americans against the Philadelphia Athletics at Huntington Avenue Grounds.
The legendary battery was disconnected in 1908 when Boston traded Criger to the Cleveland Naps.
Although it’s not an official no-hitter, Criger also caught New York Highlanders pitcher Tom Hughes’s 1910 no-hitter through nine. Hughes lost that no-no in the 10th and the game in the 11th.
Happy 48th birthday to Scott Erickson, who threw a no-hitter for the Minnesota Twins in 1994.
Erickson had been struggling when he took the ball on Wednesday, April 27, 1994, entering the game with a 7.48 ERA. But he treated the 18,000 fans at the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome by no-hitting Milwaukee Brewers for a 6-0 win, walking four and striking out five.
Erickson’s gem was only the second no-hitter against the Milwaukee Brewers, coming 20 years after the Kansas City Royals’ Steve Busby no-hit Milwaukee on June 19, 1974.
It was also the first no-no in the Metrodome, which had a reputation as a hitter’s park. The dome saw just one other no-hitter during its history from 1982 to 2009 – Eric Milton’s 7-0 no-hitter against the Anaheim Angels in 1999.
Wes Ferrell, who tossed a Cleveland Indians no-hitter in 1931 while driving in four runs, was born 108 years ago today.
On Wednesday, April 29, 1931, Ferrell held the St. Louis Browns hitless at Cleveland’s League Park for a 9-0 win. He was just as impressive at the plate, going 2-for-4 with a two-RBI home run and a two-RBI double.
Ferrell struck out eight and walked three. The other Brownie base runner was Wes’ brother Rick Ferrell (the St. Louis catcher), who reached base in the eighth inning on shortstop Bill Hunnefield’s error.
Happy 48th birthday to the Atlanta Braves’ Kent Mercker, who threw a 1994 no-hitter three years after tossing 6 innings of a combined no-no.
Mercker threw his solo no-no during his first start of the 1994 season. On Friday, April 8, 1994, at Dodger Stadium, Mercker walked four Los Angeles Dodgers, struck out 10 and held the team hitless to lead the Braves to a 6-0 win.
Three seasons earlier, on Wednesday, September 11, 1991, Mercker got the start at Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium and threw six innings of no-hit ball against the San Diego Padres. Mercker had been making just his second start of the season and was used to pitching just two innings at a time, so manager Bobby Cox gave the ball in the seventh to Mark Wohlers, who followed with two hitless innings. Alejandro Pena got the first two outs in the ninth before the Padres’ Darrin Jackson hit a slow roller toward third base.
Terry Pendleton charged the ball, which took a big hop, and Pendleton made a stab at it. Jackson reached first, and official scorer Mark Frederickson ruled it an error. Pendleton said he was fine with taking the E-5, and the Braves had their combined no-no.
Wishing a very happy birthday to Hall of Fame pitcher Nolan Ryan, who turns 69 today.
Ryan holds the major league record for no-hitters with seven. He tied Sandy Koufax’s mark of four no-hitters in 1975 and broke the record in 1981.
Here are Ryan’s no-nos:
California Angels (AL)
Tuesday, May 15, 1973
California Angels 3, Kansas City Royals 0
Royals Stadium (Kansas City) (His first of seven no-hitters)
California Angels (AL)
Sunday, July 15, 1973
California Angels 6, Detroit Tigers 0
Tiger Stadium (Detroit) (His second of seven no-hitters)
California Angels (AL)
Saturday, September 28, 1974
California Angels 4, Minnesota Twins 0
Anaheim Stadium (Anaheim) (His third of seven no-hitters)
California Angels (AL)
Sunday, June 1, 1975
California Angels 1, Baltimore Orioles 0
Anaheim Stadium (Anaheim) (His fourth of seven no-hitters tying Sandy Koufax for most career no-hitters. Ryan would throw his fifth in 1981 and add two more to retire with seven.)
Houston Astros (NL)
Saturday, September 26, 1981
Houston Astros 5, Los Angeles Dodgers 0
Astrodome (Houston) (His fifth of seven no-hitters, setting a new major league record with one more than Sandy Koufax.)
Texas Rangers (AL)
Monday, June 11, 1990
Texas Rangers 5, Oakland Athletics 0
Oakland–Alameda County Coliseum (Oakland) (His sixth of seven no-hitters, adding to his major league record.
Texas Rangers (AL)
Wednesday, May 1, 1991
Texas Rangers 3, Toronto Blue Jays 0
Arlington Stadium (Texas) (His seventh of seven no-hitters, finalizing his major league record.)
Harvey Haddix, who threw 12 perfect innings for Pittsburgh in 1959 only to lose in the 13th, was traded to the Pirates 57 years ago today.
On January 30, 1959, the Cincinnati Reds sent Haddix, catcher Smoky Burgess and third baseman Don Hoak to the Pirates for third baseman Frank Thomas, right-handed pitcher Whammy Douglas, outfielder Johnny Powers and utility player Jim Pendleton.
On May 26, 1959, in Haddix’s first season with the Pirates, the Medway, Ohio southpaw retired 36 Milwaukee Braves batters for a perfect game through 12 innings but his team couldn’t score. Haddix lost the perfect game when Hoak threw a routine grounder in the dirt, then lost the no-hitter and the game when Joe Adcock launched a ball over the right-center field fence.
Haddix was later immortalized by The Baseball Project, an indie rock group featuring R.E.M alums Peter Buck and Mike Mills, guitarist Scott McCaughey, drummer Linda Pitmon and guitarist Steve Wynn of the Dream Syndicate. Listen and see if you agree that we should “add ‘ol Harvey to that list.”
Two pitchers who threw no-hitters – Christy Mathewson, and Walter Johnson – were voted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame 80 years ago today. Mathewson and Johnson joined Ty Cobb, Babe Ruth and Honus Wagner as the Hall’s inaugural Class of 1936. The results were announced to the press four days after the vote.
The five ballplayers would have to wait until 1939 for official induction, as the facility in Cooperstown, New York had yet to be built.
Mathewson, who posted a career record of 373-188 over 17 seasons, threw two no-hitters for the New York Giants:
Monday, July 15, 1901 New York Giants 5, St. Louis Cardinals 0 Robison Field (St. Louis)
Tuesday, June 13, 1905 New York Giants 1, Chicago Cubs 0 West Side Park (Chicago)
Johnson, with a record of 417-279 over his 21-year career, threw one no-no for the Washington Senators:
Thursday, July 1, 1920 Washington Senators 1, Boston Red Sox 0 Fenway Park (Boston)
"Salida Tom" Hughes, who threw a 1916 no-hitter for the Boston Braves and lost another one in extras for the 1910 New York Highlanders, was born 132 years ago today.
The right-hander from Coal Creek, Colorado, threw nine innings of no-hit ball for the Highlanders (later renamed the Yankees) on August 30, 1910, but entered the 10th at Hilltop Park tied 0-0 with the Cleveland Naps (later renamed the Indians). He gave up single with one out in 10th to lose the no-hitter, and then the wheels came off in the 11th. Hughes allowed six more hits and five 11th-inning runs to take the 5-0 loss.
Hughes fared better on Friday, June 16, 1916, when he no-hit the Pittsburgh Pirates at Braves Field to secure a 2-0 victory for his Boston team.
The date was Aug. 30, 1973, and Hanshin Tigers pitcher Yutaka Enatsu dug into the Hanshin Koshien Stadium batter’s box in the 11th inning with hopes of breaking a scoreless tie.
Enatsu was Hanshin’s 25-year-old strikeout ace, and the southpaw had been holding the Chunichi Dragons hitless over 11 innings of work. Unfortunately, his Tigers couldn’t score him a run, and the .150 lifetime batter was on the verge of having to return to the mound for a 12th inning. (Shades of Harvey Haddix there, huh?)
But Enatsu had enough. He knocked a home run over the fence, rounded the bases and touched home plate to complete his 1-0, 11-inning no-hitter.
In the U.S. it’s known as a “walk-off homer,” and no major league pitcher has ever capped his own no-no with such a feat. In Japan, it’s called a “sayonara home run,” and Enatsu’s 1973 blast remains in a class of its own.
Enatsu’s gem was the 59th of 89 single-pitcher Japan Baseball League/Nippon Professional Baseball no-hitters dating back to 1936, and we’re now hosting a list of Japanese no-hitters on NoNoHitters.com. The list also includes the leagues’ four combined no-hitters, including one in Game 5 of the 2007 Japan Series, and two All-Star no-nos.
Two Japanese pitchers appear on our major-league no-nos list. Hideo Nomo tossed no-hitters for the Los Angeles Dodgers in 1996 and for the Boston Red Sox in 2001. The Seattle Mariners’ Hisashi Iwakuma added one in 2015.
Happy birthday to “Mr. Baseball” Bob Uecker, who once played in a no-hitter.
I got to interview Uecker at Miller Park last summer while researching my book Baseball’s No-Hit Wonders, which is set for release on March 15.
We talked a lot about the right way to call a no-hitter as a broadcaster (he’s in the you have to tell listeners what’s happening camp) but he also joked about playing catcher for the Atlanta Braves in Don Wilson’s Houston Astros no-hitter at the Astrodome in 1967, Uecker’s final season in the majors. Uecker struck out and flied to left for the Braves in that June 17 game before being lifted for an eighth-inning pinch hitter.