Discounting abbreviated games, there have been several hundred nine-inning no-hitters tossed since the turn of the century. But only rarely, because of walks and/or shoddy fielding, has the victimized club scored a run or two. On four occasions, however, the no-hit team actually scored enough runs to win the game.
First, Houston's Ken Johnson no-hit Cincinnati for nine innings in 1964 but lost, 1-0. In 1967, Baltimore's Steve Barber and Stu Miller combined to no-hit the Tigers yet also lost, 2-1, in nine innings. On this day the anomaly was stretched to the limits of believability as the Yankees' Andy Hawkins entered the eighth inning of a scoreless no-hitter in Chicago and emerged with his no-hitter intact yet with his team trailing 4-0. When New York failed to score in the top of the ninth, the game became the most lopsided no-hit defeat in history. (A fourth occasion involved the BoSox' Matt Young losing to Cleveland, 2-1, in nine innings during 1992.)
At the time, Hawkins was credited with a no-hitter, and went into baseball annals as the losing pitcher in a complete-game no-hitter. But a subsequent major league scoring council changed that ruling. In September of 1991, an eight-man committee for "statistical accuracy," chaired by then Commissioner Fay Vincent, decreed that nearly 50 past no-hitters were really not no-hitters. Stricken from the No-Hit Hall of Fame were games called after five, six, seven, eight, or eight and one-half innings for whatever reason. Also eliminated from the no-hit list were the ill-fated who pitched at least nine innings of hitless ball but were reached safely in extra innings. Swept beneath the no-hit pedestal was the Harvey Haddix masterpiece along with 11 other moundsmen who labored at least nine innings without allowing a safety. Fans are now asked to forget that Hawkins, and later Matt Young, who pitched in completed nine-inning games, were hurling for visiting clubs, and that the winning home team didn't even have an opportunity to bat in the ninth.
Record books presently invite readers to a baffling section on no-hitters. There are lists of no-hitters of less than nine pitched innings; of nine or more pitched innings; and of more than nine innings but broken up in extra innings.
This day's contest marked an historic occasion even before the first pitch was thrown. Exactly eighty years earlier, Charles Comiskey's White Sox played their first game in this stadium. Now, amid blinding sunshine and swirling winds, several thousand fewer fans paid considerably more than the original 25-cent bleacher admission to witness another celebrated addition to the lore of Comiskey Park I.
Hawkins had entered the game with a disappointing 1-4 record and an ERA bulging at 6.90. Less than a month earlier, the 30-year-old was about to be released, but an injury to another starter, Mike Witt, kept him on the Yankee roster. Big things were not expected of the right-handed journeyman this day. But as the game wore on, Hawkins became very much in control. As Andy sailed into the bottom of the eighth, only three White Sox had reached base-Ron Karkovice and Scott Fletcher had walked in the fifth, and Ivan Calderon had walked in the seventh. The eighth frame started innocently enough with both Karkovice and Fletcher popping out to second baseman Steve Sax. Here's what then happened:
Sammy Sosa hit a bouncer to third baseman Mike Blowers who back-handed but dropped the ball and then threw hurriedly to first. Sosa beat the throw amid a cloud of dust generated by his head-first slide. Initially there was some dispute over whether the play constituted a hit or an error, but it was quickly resolved. Later, Blowers readily emphasized it was clearly his error. Sosa then stole second.
After running the count full, Ozzie Guillen walked.
Lance Johnson also walked on four straight bad pitches, loading the bases.
On Hawkins' next pitch, Robin Ventura lofted what started as a routine fly to rookie Jim Leyritz in left. Leyritz had been listed as a catcher but had played primarily at third with just a few games in the outfield. Fighting the swirling wind, Jim changed direction several times before the ball dropped off the tip of his glove for a two base error. All three runners scored, and Ventura stopped at second. "It was hit right at me," said Leyritz. "It got caught up in the wind, and I couldn't reach it."*(Bill Jauss, "Sox's hitless victory a real wonder," Chicago Tribune, 2 July 1990, section 3, p. 6, col. 1..)
The next batter, Ivan Calderon, also hit a high fly ball, this one to deep right-center. Jesse Barfield, normally an excellent outfielder, struggled with the sun, gloved the ball but dropped it. Ventura scored, and Calderon ended up on second. "I lost it in the sun coming down," Barfield later said. "The call was right. It was an error." (Ibid)
Dan Pasqua finally ended the torment by popping out to shortstop Alvaro Espinoza. It was Hawkins' 37th pitch of the inning.
The Yankees went down in the ninth, despite Ventura's second error, making journeyman reliever Barry Jones the winner and casting Andy Hawkins into a very select fraternity. The 29-year-old was dazed yet gracious following the game, saying that after the last out of a no-hitter he had always dreamed of jumping up and down. "I don't blame Leyritz or Barfield. It was a tough field out there. The wind was blowing everywhere." (Ibid., col. 4.)
Hard luck followed Hawkins all month. In his next start, he tossed 11 shutout innings and lost. On July 12, he was also the losing pitcher when Chicago's Melido Perez threw a rain-shortened no-hitter (that later also became a non no-hitter).
|» NEXT: Father and Son Teammates Get Hits in Same Game|
From Baseball Records Registry by Joseph J. Dittmar.
Copyright © 1997 by Joseph J. Dittmar. Reprinted with permission.