The majors’ earliest no-hitter occurred on a leap day 56 years ago today.
On February 29, 1964, Dick Kelley, who wound up spending five years with the Braves before joining the San Diego Padres, got it started by tossing three innings of no-hit ball against the University of Miami Hurricanes. Larry Maxie, who wouldn’t make the Braves squad until 1969 and then lasted only two games, pitched another three innings at West Palm Beach’s Palm Beach Municipal Stadium without giving up a hit.
A young knuckleballer by the name of Phil Niekro then took the ball and finished out the game with a three-inning save to secure the 1-0 victory. Niekro enjoyed a Hall of Fame career with 318 wins and 274 losses. He tossed his own regular-season no-hitter on Sunday, August 5, 1973, against the Padres at Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium for a 9-0 victory.