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.
Hall of Famer Bob Feller threw the only Opening Day no-hitter in baseball history, 77 years ago today.
The 21-year-old Feller used his “heater from Van Meter” fastball on April 16, 1940, to mow down eight White Sox batters as the Cleveland Indians topped Chicago 1-0. Feller’s parents and sister, Marguerite, were among the 14,000 fans at Chicago’s Comiskey Park that afternoon.
“I knew I had a chance for a no-hitter in the ninth,” Feller told the Cleveland Plain Dealer, “but I tried to put the thought out of my mind by reminding myself you never have a no-hitter until the last man is out.”
Feller threw two additional no-hitters, tying Larry Corcoran and Cy Young for a major league record that would later be broken by Sandy Koufax and Nolan Ryan:
Cleveland Indians (AL)
Tuesday, April 30, 1946
Cleveland Indians 1, New York Yankees 0
Yankee Stadium (New York)
Cleveland Indians (AL)
Sunday, July 1, 1951 (First game of doubleheader)
Cleveland Indians 2, Detroit Tigers 1
Cleveland Stadium (Cleveland)
Feller nearly had some company on April 16, 1940. With all 16 teams in action, Boston Red Sox southpaw Lefty Grove took a no-hitter into the eighth inning before it was broken up with a single by the Washington Senators’ Cecil Travis. Grove retired the game’s first 21 batters but lost the perfecto on an eighth-inning error. He settled for a two-hit 1-0 complete-game shutout.
Asked by an AP reporter if he was disappointed by Travis’ single, Grove said, “No. No-hitters are bad luck.”
Two other no-hitters were thrown on the date of April 16:
Chicago Cubs (NL)
Sunday, April 16, 1972
Chicago Cubs 4, Philadelphia Phillies 0
Wrigley Field (Chicago)
St. Louis Cardinals (NL)
Sunday, April 16, 1978
St. Louis Cardinals 5, Philadelphia Phillies 0
Busch Stadium (St. Louis) (His first of two no-hitters)
Happy 129th birthday to George Mogridge, who pitched the New York Yankees’ first no-hitter on April 24, 1917, a 2-1 win over the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park.
Also born on this date in 1875 is Walter Thornton, who threw a Chicago Orphans no-hitter
against the Brooklyn Bridegrooms at West Side Park during the second game of a Sunday doubleheader on August 21, 1898. Chicago topped Brooklyn 2-0.
Allie Reynolds, who tossed a pair of no-hitters for the New York Yankees in 1951, was born 100 years ago today.
The Bethany, Oklahoma, native threw both of his no-hitters in a 2½-month span during the 1951 season, in which he posted a 17-8 record. He improved on that for 1952, going 20-8 with an American League-leading 2.06 ERA. He retired with a 182–107 record and 3.30 ERA.
Here are Reynolds’ no-nos:
New York Yankees (AL)
Thursday, July 12, 1951
New York Yankees 1, Cleveland Indians 0
Cleveland Stadium (Cleveland)
New York Yankees (AL)
Friday, September 28, 1951 (First game of doubleheader)
New York Yankees 8, Boston Red Sox 0
Yankee Stadium (New York)
Happy 39th birthday to Devern Hansack, who threw a five-inning rain-shortened no-hitter for the Boston Red Sox in 2006.
Major League Baseball’s committee for statistical accuracy had already determined that rain-shortened no-nos were not official no-hitters, but Hansack made the most of his October 1, 2006, against the Baltimore Orioles on the final day of the season. He no-hit the O’s for five innings while the Red Sox built a 9-0 lead. Umpires called the game at Fenway Park after the fifth due to rain.
Happy birthday to a pair of old-time no-no throwers.
Weldon Henley, born on this day in 1880, threw a no-no for the Philadelphia Athletics against the St. Louis Browns during the opener of a Saturday, July 22, 1905, doubleheader at St. Louis’ Robison Field. The A’s topped the Browns 6-0.
“Smokey” Joe Wood, born on this day in 1889, tossed a no-no for the Boston Red Sox during the first game of a Saturday, July 29, 1911, doubleheader at the Huntington Avenue Grounds. The Red Sox topped the Browns 5-0.
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.
Four no-hitters were tossed on this date, but three of them are more than 100 years old.
The only modern-day no-hitter was thrown on Wednesday, September 18, 1968, by the St. Louis Cardinals’ Ray Washburn against the San Francisco Giants. It came just a day after the Giants’ Gaylord Perry no-hit the Cards.
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.
The Los Angeles Dodgers’ Hideo Nomo no-hit the Colorado Rockies, 20 years ago today.
On Tuesday, September 17, 1996, Nomo threw a no-no against the Rockies for a 9-0 win at Coors Field. It remains the ballpark’s only no-hitter. Nomo followed it up with a second no-hitter for the Boston Red Sox in 2001.
Also throwing a no-hitter on this date 48 years ago today is the San Francisco Giants’ Gaylord Perry. On Tuesday, September 17, 1968, Perry out-dueled Bob Gibson to no-hit the St. Louis Cardinals for a 1-0 win at Candlestick Park. The Cards’ Ray Washburn retaliated by no-hitting the Giants the next day.