Today would be the 72nd birthday of Don Wilson, who threw no-hitters for the Houston Astros in 1967 and 1969. The right-handed flamethrower, who pitched one game in 1966, was a mainstay of the Houston rotation from 1967 to 1974, winning 104 games.
He died of accidental asphyxiation in his home on Jan. 5, 1975, when he left his car running after pulling into his garage. His son, who was upstairs, also died.
The Astros retired Wilson’s No. 40 in 1975.
Here are Wilson’s no-nos.
Sunday, June 18, 1967
Houston Astros 2, Atlanta Braves 0
Thursday, May 1, 1969
Houston Astros 4, Cincinnati Reds 0
Crosley Field (Cincinnati)
Four no-hitter throwers were born on this date: Ewell Blackwell, Jim Bunning, Al Leiter and Bud Smith.
Blackwell, born on this date in 1922, threw a no-no for the Cincinnati Reds on Wednesday, June 18, 1947, against the Boston Braves. In his following start, Blackwell just missed duplicating teammate Johnny Vander Meer’s mark of two straight no-nos, losing his second no-no after 8 1/3 innings against Brooklyn.
Bunning, who turns 85 today, threw a no-hitter for the Detroit Tigers against the Boston Red Sox during the first game of a Sunday doubleheader on July 20, 1958. Bunning followed up that gem six years later as a member of the Philadelphia Phillies, throwing a perfect game against the New York Mets at Shea Stadium during the first game of a Father’s Day doubleheader on Sunday, June 21, 1964. Bunning was the first major-league pitcher to throw no-nos in both the AL and NL.
Leiter, celebrating his 51st birthday today, tossed the Florida (now Miami) Marlins’ first no-hitter in franchise history. He blanked the Colorado Rockies on Saturday, May 11, 1996, for an 11-0 win at Joe Robbie Stadium.
Bud Smith, who turns 37 today, threw a no-hitter as a St. Louis Cardinals rookie on Monday, September 3, 2001, shutting down the San Diego Padres for a 4-0 win at Qualcomm Stadium.
Hall of Famer Sandy Koufax threw his fourth no-hitter in the form of a perfect game, 51 years ago today.
On September 9, 1965, Koufax retired each of the 27 Chicago Cubs batters he faced at Dodger Stadium to set a new record for career no-hitters. Nolan Ryan would eventually break the mark of 4 and extend his record to 7. But Koufax’s perfecto had such an impact on the Cubs that the team avoided being no-hit for nearly 50 years, with the finally streak ending at 7,921 games in 2015 at the hands of Cole Hamels.
Also throwing no-hitters on this day are:
Boston Braves (NL)
Wednesday, September 9, 1914 (Second game of doubleheader)
Boston Braves 7, Philadelphia Phillies 0
Fenway Park (Boston)
Philadelphia Athletics (AL)
Sunday, September 9, 1945 (Second game of doubleheader)
Philadelphia Athletics 1, St. Louis Browns 0
Shibe Park (Philadelphia)
Brooklyn Dodgers (NL)
Thursday, September 9, 1948
Brooklyn Dodgers 2, New York Giants 0
Polo Grounds (New York)
Hilldale’s Phil Cockrell threw a Negro Leagues no-hitter, 105 years ago today.
On September 5, 1921, during the second game of a Monday doubleheader, Cockrell no-hit the Detroit Stars for a 3-0 win.He followed that up with another no-no less than a year alter, no-hitting the Chicago American Giants for a 5-0 win on Saturday, August 19, 1922.
Also throwing a no-hitter on this date is the Brooklyn Superbas’ George Napoleon “Nap” Rucker. On September 5, 1908, during the second game of a Saturday doubleheader at Brooklyn’s Washington Park, Rucker no-hit the Boston Doves for a 6-0 win.
Wilson Alvarez threw a no-hitter for the 1991 Chicago White Sox in just his second major league start, 25 years ago today.
Alvarez, a 6-foot-1 southpaw from Maracaibo, Venezuela, no-hit the Baltimore Orioles on August 11, 1991, walking five and striking out seven.
His outing at Baltimore’s Memorial Stadium went considerable better than his major-league debut, in which he left the game after facing five batters without getting a single out. On July 24, 1989 as a member of the Texas Rangers, Alvarez yielded a leadoff single to Junior Felix and then served up back-to-back homers to Tony Fernandez and Kelly Gruber. Bobby Valentine pulled Alvarez after the southpaw issued back-to-back bases on balls to George Bell and Fred McGriff.
Alvarez went on to carve out a 14-year career, posting a 102-92 record with a 3.96 ERA. He retired in 2005 as a member of the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Also throwing a no-hitter on this date is the Boston Braves’ Vern Bickford, who no-hit the Brooklyn Dodgers at Braves Field on Friday, August 11, 1950 for a 7-0 win.
Vic Willis is credited with throwing the second no-hitter for the Braves franchise 117 years ago today, although accounts in both the home and away newspapers recorded this game as a one-hitter.
Willis, pitching for the National League’s Boston Beaneaters at the Huntington Avenue Grounds on Monday, August 7, 1899, no-hit the Washington Senators for a 7-1 win, according to the official no-hitter list.
But The Washington Times had a different take, noting in its sub-headline: “Washington Secures Only One Little Scratch Hit of Willis.
“Dinneen made the only hit off him,” the paper said, “accomplishing this feat in the sixth inning, when he was the first man to bat.”
The Boston Globe agreed, and the headline on Globe sportswriter Tim Murnane’s story read “Only One Hit Off Willis in the Full Nine Innings,” although Murnane said the hit was “was not worth the name.”
Box scores in both the Washington and Boston papers show one hit.
But the wire service accounts and box scores that spread across the nation show the game as a no-hitter, and that’s how it stands in the MLB record books. And people still give me crap about the Carlos Beltran fair/foul call in Johan Santana’s no-hitter!
The Philadelphia Phillies’ Frank “Red” Donahue threw a no-hitter against the Boston Beaneaters, 118 years ago today.
Donahue, who lost a league leading 35 games for the St. Louis (NL) Browns in 1897, was traded to the Philadelphia Phillies after the season. On Friday, July 8, 1898, he no-hit the 1897 NL pennant winners at National League Park. Donahue issued two walks and the Phillies committed one error.
“He gave the most brilliant exhibition of twisting the sphere that has been seen on the local grounds this season,” noted The Times of Philadelphia. “Not a Champion got beyond second base during the entire nine innings, and not a single Champion got a safe hit during the entire nine innings.”
The Beaneaters eventually adopted the name of the Braves, moving to Milwaukee and then Atlanta.
We’ve reached Part 3 of our look at baseball’s six “other” back to back starts in recognition of Cincinnati Reds pitcher Johnny Vander Meer’s amazing accomplishment 78 years ago.
On Saturday, June 11, 1938, Vander Meer no-hit the Boston Bees at home at Crosley Field. Four days later, he threw another no-hitter against the Brooklyn Dodgers at Ebbets Field to become the only major-league pitcher to throw back-to-back no-nos.
Mike Moore, Frank MacCormack, Gary Gentry, Les Cain, Sandy Koufax and Rex Barney all threw back-to-back no-hit starts, though none of their outings went nine innings. The details of those starts generated using http://www.baseball-reference.com‘s superb Play Index are below, and we’ve been taking a closer look each of the pairings each day. Today’s day post (we’re having a day-night doubleheader) features the Atlanta Braves’ Gary Gentry.
No. 3: Gary Gentry
Gary Gentry, a New York Mets starter traded to the Atlanta Braves following the 1972 season, took the mound on June 5, 1973 for a start at Parc Jarry against the Montreal Expos despite dealing with a sore shoulder. He retired a couple of Rons — Hunt and Woods — before walking another — Fairley.
Gentry retired Ken Singleton to get out of the inning but never returned to the mound, as Manager Eddie Mathews sent up Chuck Goggin to pinch hit in the second. The Expos wound up winning 7-6 in 11 innings.
Five days later, while still fighting shoulder soreness, Gentry started the opener of a doubleheader against the St. Louis Cardinals by walking Lou Brock and Ted Sizemore. The walks led to a run, as Brock advanced to third on a Joe Torre ground out and scored on a Ted Simmons sacrifice, but Gentry minimized the damage to one run. He mixed one walk into an otherwise quiet second inning but was done for the day after just 2 innings.
The Cardinals won that game 4-3, and the Braves’ Roric Harrison flirted with a no-hitter in the nightcap, holding a zero in the H column until Ken Reitz led off the sixth inning with a triple.
Gentry’s back-to-back starts in June 1973 were hardly memorable, but he held opponents hitless in each.