Walter Johnson, a 400+ game winner who threw a 1920 no-hitter for the Washington Senators, was born 130 years ago today.
Johnson no-hit the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park on Thursday, July 1, 1920, for a 1-0 victory. He finished out a 21-year Hall of Fame career with a record of 417-279.
Also born on this day is the Pittsburgh Pirates’ John Candelaria, who threw a no-hitter in 1976. The “Candy Man,” who turns 64 today, no-hit the Los Angeles Dodgers at Three Rivers Stadium on Monday, August 9, 1976 for a 2-0 win. Wishing him a happy 64th birthday!
Today is the 125th anniversary of Bumpus Jones’ debut no-hitter.
Charles Leander “Bumpus” Jones made his major-league debut for the Cincinnati Reds on Saturday, October 15, 1892, and made the most of it, no-hitting the Pittsburgh Pirates at League Park for a 7-1 win.
Reds player-manager Charles Comiskey, who had watched Jones pitch well in an 1892 exhibition, gave Jones the opportunity to pitch Cincinnati’s final game of the ’92 season. Two pitchers – Ted Breitenstein and Alva “Bobo” Holloman – have thrown no-hitters in their first major league starts, but only Jones did so in his first major league appearance.
The Boston Red Sox’s Bill Rohr came within one strike of the feat in 1967.
Rohr made his major league debut against New York at Yankee Stadium on April 14, 1967, and reached the ninth inning without allowing a hit. (He had allowed six base runners to reach on five walks and one on an error.)
Tom Tresh led off the ninth inning by hitting a fly ball to left, and Carl Yastrzemski saved the day with a diving catch. After Joe Pepitone flied out to right for the second out, Rohr served up a 3-2 flat curve to Elston Howard and Howard lined it to right center for a single. Rohr got Charley Smith to fly out to right to complete the 3-0 complete-game one-hitter.
Rohr took it in stride.
“It would have been nice to have a no-hitter, but it’s awfully nice to be 1-0 in the big leagues,” he said after the game.
Rohr made just 26 more appearances in the majors (seven of those as starts) with his last for the Cleveland Indians in 1968. He played out his final three years in the minors before retiring with an MLB 3-3 record.
Two rain-shortened no-hitters, which are not considered official, were thrown on this date.
On Wednesday, October 1, 1884, the Detroit Wolverines’ Charlie “Pretzels” Getzien threw a six-inning no-no against the Philadelphia Phillies at Detroit’s Recreation Park. The Wolverines were leading 1-0 when Milt Scott and Getzien hit back-to-back singles in the seventh inning before the rain started to fall.
“It did not rain very hard nor very long, but [umpire Sterwart] Decker decided that the grounds were too wet, it was already too dark and he called the game,” noted the Detroit Free Press.
And how did the German-born Getzien earn the nickname “Pretzels”? Sporting Life explains the right-hander’s “pretzel curve.”
“In delivering his ‘pretzels,’ ‘Gets’ faces third base with one foot in either corner of the lower end of the box,” the paper said. “Bending the left knee slightly, he draws his right arm well luck. Then, straightening up quickly, he slides the left foot forward with a characteristic little skip, and, bringing his arm around with a swift overhand swing, drives the ball at a lively pace.”
The other rain-shortened no-no was tossed by the Boston Red Sox’s Devern Hansack on Sunday, October 1, 2006. He no-hit the Orioles for five innings while the Red Sox built a 9-0 lead, but umpires called the game at Fenway Park after the fifth due to rain. Hansack’s no-no was one of his three career starts in the majors, as he appeared in just nine major league games between 2006-2008 while compiling a 2-2 record with a 3.70 ERA.
The St. Louis Cardinals’ Ray Washburn payed back the San Francisco Giants with a no-hitter, 49 years ago today.
At Candlestick Park on Wednesday, September 18, 1968, Washburn no-hit the Giants for a 2-0 win. Just a day earlier, the Giants’ Gaylord Perry no-hit the Cards for a 1-0 win. It marked the majors’ first back-to-back revenge no-nos, though the feat was duplicated a year later by the Cincinnati Reds’ Jim Maloney and the Houston Astros’ Don Wilson.
Three other no-hitters were tossed on this date, but they all are more than 100 years old:
Cy Young threw the first of his three no-hitters for the National League’s Cleveland Spiders during the first game of a Saturday doubleheader at League Park on September 18, 1897. The Spiders topped the Cincinnati Reds 6-0.
The Philadelphia Phillies’ Chick Fraser no-hit the Chicago Cubs during the second game of a Friday, September 18, 1903, doubleheader at Chicago’s West Side Park. The Phillies beat the Cubs 10-0.
And the Cleveland Naps’ Bob “Dusty” Rhoads no-hit the Boston Red Sox on Friday, September 18, 1908, for a 2-1 at Cleveland’s League Park.
Today marks the anniversary of no-hitters thrown by the the New York Yankees’ Monte Pearson (79 years) and the Chicago White Sox’s Ed Walsh (106 years).
Pearson threw his no-no against the Indians during the nightcap of a Saturday doubleheader at Yankee Stadium on August 27, 1938, with the Yankees topping Cleveland 13-0. Previous Yankees no-hitters were thrown by George Mogridge (1917) and “Sad” Sam Jones (1923).
Walsh no-hit the Boston Red Sox for a 5-0 win at Comiskey Park on Sunday, August 27, 1911, striking out eight and walking one. It marked the fourth no-hitter in franchise history, with James “Nixey” Callahan tossing one in 1902 and Frank Smith throwing no-nos in 1905 and 1908.
The Toronto Blue Jays’ Marco Estrada lost an eighth-inning no-hitter in his second consecutive start, two years ago today.
Estrada reached the eighth with a no-no intact against the Tampa Bay Rays on June 24, 2015, at Tropicana Field before Logan Forsythe tagged him for a one-out infield single. Five days earlier, Estrada lost a no-no against the Orioles at Rogers Centre with no out in the eighth.
Here are those two starts:
Toronto Blue Jays (AL)
Friday, June 19, 2015
Spoiler: Jimmy Paredes broken-bat bloop single to left with no out in the eight inning
Toronto Blue Jays 5, Baltimore Orioles 4
Rogers Centre (Toronto)
Toronto Blue Jays (AL)
Wednesday, June 24, 2015
Spoiler: Logan Forsythe, infield single with one out in the eight inning
Toronto Blue Jays 1, Tampa Bay Rays 4
Tropicana Field (St. Petersburg)
As if that hard luck wasn’t enough, Estrada also lost another eighth-inning no-no in 2016:
Toronto Blue Jays (AL)
Sunday, June 5, 2016
Spoiler: Chris Young, homer to left with one out in the 8th inning
Toronto Blue Jays 5, Boston Red Sox 4
Fenway Park (Boston)
To celebrate the 100th anniversary of baseball’s first combined no-hitter (Babe Ruth/Ernie Shore), here is the first chapter of my book Baseball’s No-Hit Wonders.
Four balls and a bop on the beezer
When baseball fans reminisce about the legend of Babe Ruth, what comes to mind first are his 60 home runs in 1927 or his gesture toward the Wrigley Field bleachers in Game 3 of the ’32 World Series before crushing a ball over the center-field fence. Not to mention his legendary drinking and noteworthy girth. But before the Babe hit his eighth homer ever in his long march toward 714, he secured himself a spot in no-hitter lore by taking a swing of a different sort—with his fist.
George Herman Ruth Jr. began his professional career in 1914 as a Boston Red Sox pitcher, and he hadn’t yet thought about becoming a slugger despite his love of the batter’s box. “There isn’t a man in the world who isn’t happiest when he’s up there at the plate with a stick in his hand, but it was pitching which took my time in Boston,” Ruth said in Babe Ruth’s Own Book of Baseball.7
The Babe had amassed an impressive 12-4 record for the Red Sox by June 23, 1917, when the lefty took the Fenway Park mound for the opening game of a Saturday doubleheader against the Washington Senators. Leadoff batter Ray Morgan stepped to the plate, and Ruth tossed his first pitch.
“Ball,” yelled umpire Brick Owens, earning a glare from Ruth.
Three more pitches drew the same call, the Babe’s temper rising with each. Morgan took his free pass to first base as Ruth continued jawing with Owens, according to Boston Globe sportswriter Edward F. Martin.
“Get in there and pitch,” the umpire ordered.
“Open your eyes and keep them open,” Ruth yelled.
“Get in and pitch or I will run you out of there,” Owens warned.8
The Bambino threatened to punch Owens in the nose, and Owens had heard enough. The ump gave Ruth the heave-ho.
Ruth’s exact words while charging the plate were likely “I’m gonna bop you on the beezer,” said his granddaughter Linda Ruth Tosetti.9
Ruth’s right hook actually missed Owens’s beezer, glancing off the ump’s mask and landing behind the left ear.
Recalling the game in a newspaper column nearly 25 years later, the umpire had a far tamer memory of the day’s events. “Babe got hot under the collar and complained so vigorously that he was ordered off the field,” Owens wrote in the Milwaukee Journal.10 The scrum prompted several police officers, players from both benches, and Red Sox player-manager Jack Barry to drag Ruth off the field. Catcher Pinch Thomas, who tried to block Ruth from getting to Owens, also got ejected.
“Baltimore Babe with his temper beyond control went to the dugout under a cloud. His suspension will cripple the Red Sox badly as they need the big portsider very much,” the Globe’s Martin wrote, dreading Ruth’s inevitable punishment to come.11
The Sox manager, needing someone to take the mound in a hurry, turned to Ernest Grady “Ernie” Shore, a dependable right-hander who had posted a 19-8 record with a 1.64 ERA two years previously. Shore had just thrown five innings two days earlier, but he grabbed the ball in attempt to bring some calm to Fenway.
Ray Morgan, the only Washington Senators player to reach first base, walked on four pitches before being thrown out attempting to steal. Third baseman Eddie Foster stepped into the box, and Morgan took off to steal second on Shore’s first pitch. Replacement catcher Sam Agnew fired down to the bag to notch the game’s first putout.
Shore retired Foster and proceeded to send Senator after Senator back to the dugout as he filibustered his way down the Washington lineup. “Shore fanned only two and it did not seem as if he was working hard,” according to the Globe. “He made a number of nifty plays himself.”12
The only hard chance, according to the Washington Post, came in the ninth inning on a ball hit by Washington catcher John Henry, but Boston left fielder Duffy Lewis saved the no-no.
“Henry drove out what looked to be a sure hit, but Lewis came racing in and smothered the ball,” the newspaper said. “Several great infield plays aided Shore in keeping a clean slate.”13
Shore closed the game by snagging a swinging bunt off the bat of pinch hitter Mike Menosky, and the crowd of more than 16,000 fans rose to give Shore an ovation.
“Relieving Ruth after ‘Babe’s’ scrap with Umpire Owens in the first inning of this afternoon’s double-header, Ernie Shore hurled a perfect game,” declared one wire report. “Not a Senator reached first.”14 Owens called the contest one of the most exciting games he officiated. “Look through your records and you won’t find another instance of a hurler credited with a perfect performance, although facing only 26 men,” Owens said.15
The day after the game, the Brooklyn Daily Eagle wondered how American League President Ban Johnson would react to the young Ruth’s assault on Owens, who was considered an esteemed, competent arbitrator of the game. “Ban will probably announce, as he does in all cases, an indefinite suspension, but how long will Ban make it stick?” the newspaper asked.16
Johnson suspended Ruth for one week and fined him $100.17 As for Shore’s accomplishment, the official scorers of the day had a hard time classifying exactly what had occurred on June 23, 1917, according to Owens. “As I said many arguments arose at the end of the contest over this unusual situation,” the umpire said, “and finally it was decided that Ernie deserved the highest goal that any pitcher can attain—the perfect game.”18
Finally, that is, until Major League Baseball’s committee for statistical accuracy stepped into the fray in 1991. The committee chaired by Commissioner Fay Vincent established an official definition of a no-hitter, saying, “A no-hitter is a game in which a pitcher or pitchers complete a game of nine innings or more without allowing a hit.” A perfect game adds the extra requirements of no walks and no errors over nine innings or more.
The committee’s rule-tightening effort not only wiped 50 rain-shortened, darkness-shortened, and eight-inning no-hitters off the record books, it also rebranded Shore’s accomplishment—the game could not be perfect, as Ray Morgan had reached first base.
So a game that had for 74 years been considered Shore’s perfect game was suddenly classified as professional baseball’s first combined no-hitter, credited to Ruth (0 innings) and Shore (9 innings). The Babe, whose contribution to that game was only four pitched balls and a bop in the beezer, secured his spot on the no-hitters list for perpetuity.
Perhaps fortunately, Ernie Shore, who left baseball in 1920 to return to North Carolina and serve as Forsyth County’s longtime sheriff, never knew his perfect game was renamed. He died 11 years before the committee’s decision.