No Hitters – Quickest First No Hitter, Slowest to First, and So Much More
As the attention of the sports world turned to Flushing, New York (not New York, New York, no matter how many times Jon Miller incorrectly identified it) last week and Seattle Washington last night, I pondered a number of questions about no-hitters, one the most random and fascinating events in sports.
Question 1: What was the longest no-hitter?
Answer 1: The longest a pitcher ever had a no-hitter (or perfect game) was Harvey Haddix on May 26, 1959. Haddix had a perfect game for 12 innings (ending with a Don Hoak error) and a no-hitter for 12.1 innings (a Joe Adcock sort-of-double ended the game). Adcock actually hit a home run to end the game, but Hank Aaron left the base paths after touching second base, so only Felix Mantilla was credited as scoring. His opponent was Lew Burdette, who allowed 12 hits, no walks, and struck two batters out in his 13-inning shutout. As a side note, Haddix absolutely dominated a very, very good Milwaukee Braves team that day. On that team were Hall of Famer Eddie Mathews (who would hit 306/390/593 that year), Hall of Famer Hank Aaron (355/401/636), and Joe Adcock (292/339/535); plus the Braves went 86-70. Of course, MLB later invalidated Haddix’s efforts, so the answer becomes more complex, as it’s either (a) Sam Kimber, who threw an 11-inning no hitter on October 4, 1884 or, if you don’t consider records before 1901, (b) the record becomes Hooks Wiltse, who threw 10 no-hit innings against the Philadelphia Phillies in 1908; Fred Toney, who threw 10 no-hit innings against the Chicago Cubs in 1917; and Jim Maloney, who threw 10 no-hit innings in 1965 against the Philadelphia Phillies. So, the answer is “it depends.”
Question 2: What was the earliest into a career a pitcher threw a no-hitter?
Answer 2: On October 4, 1891, Ted Breitenstein threw a no hitter in his first major league start (at the time there was no American League, just the National League and the American Association). After that, 21 rookies have pitched no-hitters, but the quickest was Bobo Holloman, a 30-year old rookie who made 22 appearances in the Majors and 301 in the minors, on May 6, 1953. Holloman also went 2/3 with 3 RBI that day – the only times on base and RBI of his career.
Question 3: What was the quickest into a team’s existence that a pitcher threw a no-hitter? (H/T Melissa for the question)
Answer 3: The Montreal Expos (now the Washington Nationals), when Bill Stoneman threw a no-hitter on April 17, 1969, in the NINTH game of their existence. Sam Kimber threw a no-hitter for the Brooklyn Superbas (now the Los Angeles Dodgers, more on them later) on October 4, 1884 against the Toledo Blue Stockings. A number of teams have had one thrown in their second year of existence, including the Los Angeles Angels (Bo Belinsky in 1962), Houston Astros (then Colt .45′s, by Don Nottebart), and Chicago White Sox (Nixey Callahan). See the image below:
Question 4: Have any great pitchers been the first pitcher to throw a no-hitter for a team or just a lot of random pitchers?
Answer 4: It appears to be a solid mix of both. I don’t pretend to have great knowledge of baseball before the 1950s (or the 1980s other than Hall of Famers and random things), but a number of great pitchers are on the list, such as Cy Young, Randy Johnson, Christy Mathewson, and Walter Johnson … and the list is also littered with utterly forgettable pitchers (I have already mentioned Bill Stoneman). History is littered with Hall of Fame pitchers who threw no hitters, including Pud Galvin, Charles “Old Hoss” Radbourn (who you should follow on Twitter, seriously), Cy Young, Big Ed Walsh (who was listed at 6’1″, 193), Christy Mathewson, Walter Johnson, Bob Feller, Warren Spahn, Sandy Koufax, Juan Marichal, James “Catfish” Hunter, Gaylord Perry, Jim Palmer, Bob Gibson, Nolan Ryan, Phil Niekro, Dennis Eckersley (1977, with the Cleveland Indians), Bert Blyleven, and Tom Seaver (with the Reds – ugh). I would imagine this list Hall of Fame list will shortly include Randy Johnson.
Question 5: You said Randy Johnson was the first pitcher to throw a no-hitter for his team. Was it for the Diamondbacks or the Mariners?
Answer 5: Both. June 2, 1990 for the Mariners (their 14th season) and May 18, 2004 for the Diamondbacks (their 7th season). Johnson is the only pitcher to be on this list twice, though Ubaldo Jimenez, Matt Garza, or Johan Santana could join him if they play for the Padres or baseball expands again, or Bob Gibson bucks up and makes a comeback.
Question 6: What is the longest amount of time between a pitcher throwing no-hitters?
Answer 6: Cy Young threw three, his first on September 18, 1897 and his last on June 30, 1908 – a span of more than ten years. Bob Feller threw his first no-hitter on April 16, 1940 and his last on July 1, 1951 – a span of more than eleven years. Randy Johnson threw his first on June 2, 1990 and his second on May 18, 2004, a span of nearly 14 years. Nolan Ryan threw his first no-hitter on May 15, 1973 and his seventh on May 1, 1991, a span of nearly 18 years. Think about that – he went nearly 18 years between no-hitters when the average MLB career is ONLY 5.6 years.
Question 7: What is the shortest time between no-hitters?
Answer 7: For a single pitcher or a team, Johnny Vander Meer threw no hitters on June 11 and June 15, 1938 (more amazing is that, in those two starts he struck out 11 and walked 11). Hall of Famer Ernie Lombardi caught them both. During a season, Gaylor Perry (with the San Francisco Giants) no-hit the St. Louis Cardinals (beating Cy Young and MVP Bob Gibson) on September 17, 1968. The following day, Ray Washburn of the Cardinals returned the favor, no-hitting the Giants (his pitching counterpart, Bobby Bolin went eight innings, allowing only two runs. Frank Linzy pitched the ninth after Bolin was lifted for a pinch hitter in the bottom of the 8th).
Question 8: Has a team ever lost a no-hitter?
Answer 8: Amazingly, it has happened twice. The Houston Colt .45′s (now Astros) lost Ken Johnson‘s no-hitter on April 23, 1964 due to an error (by Johnson, no less), a groundout, and another error (this time by the second baseman). The winning pitcher was Joe Nuxhall, who pitched two-thirds of an inning in 1944 at the age of 15, allowing five runs on two hits and five walks. On April 30, 1967, Steve Barber walked TEN en route to picking up a 2-1 loss to the Detroit Tigers. Barber only went 8.2 innings, walking three in the ninth before Stu Miller came in to end the game. (Actually, that’s sort of false. Miller came in, got a FC with the batter reached on an error then got another FC, this time 5-6, to end the game.)
Question 9: Wasn’t Babe Ruth part of a no-hitter? He’s a Hall of Famer! Why didn’t you mention him?
Answer 9: Well, it was a weird game and Babe Ruth was in the game for zero outs. See, Ruth started the game by walking leadoff hitter Ray Morgan on four pitches. Ruth then argued with the umpire (he felt the umpire’s strike zone was incorrect), and was thrown out of the game. Ernie Shore came into the game and Morgan was caught stealing. Shore then retired the next 27 batters en route to a no-hitter. As a side note, Ernie Shore was absolutely huge for his era (and rather large for today). Don’t believe me? Check out this picture with the 6’2″ (listed) Ruth:
Question 10: So only the Padres who have not had a pitcher (or pitchers) throw a no-hitter?
Answer 10: That is correct; 6,896 games and counting – they’re in their 44th season.
Random things I noticed: Teams used to change names a lot, often going back and forth between names and using multiple team names at the same time.
- The Boston Red Sox were known as the Boston Pilgrims and the Boston Americans at the same time.
- The Los Angeles Dodgers were known as the Brooklyn Atlantics (1884), Brooklyn Grays (1885-1887), Brooklyn Bridegrooms (1888-1890), Brooklyn Grooms (1891-1895), Brooklyn Bridegrooms (again, 1896-1898), Brooklyn Superbas (1899-1910), Brooklyn Dodgers (1911 – 1912), Brooklyn Superbas (again, 1913), Brooklyn Robins (1914-1931), and Brooklyn Dodgers (again, from 1932 to 1957), and Los Angeles Dodgers (1958 to present).
- The Chicago White Sox have been known as the White Sox since 1901. The Detroit Tigers have been known as the Detroit Tigers since 1901. These appear to be the longest any team has been named the same thing and played in the same city.
- There were no teams added to the Major Leagues between 1901 and 1961.
Until next time, follow me @HypeProspect.