By: Mark Lester
Recently, a piece was published on The Dugout talking about some very interesting no-hit pitching performances facts. It it mentioned the time that Dock Ellis pitched a no-hitter on LSD, Jim Abbott overcoming the lack of a right hand to complete a no-no, and, perhaps most surprising, Hideo Nomo completing a no-hitter in Coors Field. However, one particular no-hit performance for the ages wasn’t mentioned, and since it happened against my very own White Sox, I feel the responsibility to tell you about it. Three times in major league history, a pitcher has thrown a complete-game no hitter… and still lost. On two of these occasions, the score was decided by one run, which isn’t surprising: it’s hard to score much without getting a single hit. But only once has a pitcher managed to allow zero hits, yet still lose by not one, not two, not three, but four runs.
Now let’s go back in time, to one of the most backwards, absurd games in the history of baseball.
The date was July 1, 1990. The 28-45 New York Yankees were facing off with the 46-26 Chicago White Sox. On the mound for the Yankees was RHP Andy Hawkins, a former Padre who in 1989 led the league in Earned Runs Allowed, with 111 in 34 games. He came into July with a 1-4 record and an ERA of 6.49. If his season so far was any indication, his start in Chicago wouldn’t be anything special.
In the first inning, Hawkins pitched a 1-2-3 inning with every at-bat resulting in a flyout. He followed that up with another 1-2-3 inning. And another. And yet another. Andy Hawkins wouldn’t allow any batters to get on base until the bottom of the 5th, in which he walked two batters. He still hadn’t allowed a single hit. Hawkins would pitch two more innings without allowing a hit, let alone a run.
However, the Yankees offense wasn’t exactly doing him any favors, scoring a grand total of 0 runs with 3 hits through 8 innings. Going into the bottom of the 8th, the game was knotted at 0, and the White Sox still hadn’t mustered a single hit.
Then, as baseball tends to do, it got interesting.
The bottom of the 8th started with two straight White Sox batters flying out to second. Then a young, mediocre outfielder by the name of Sammy Sosa reached on an error by third baseman Mike Blowers and stole second. Ozzie Guillen reached on a walk. Hawkins then walked Lance Johnson to load the bases with two outs. The White Sox had managed to have a two-out rally and load the bases without getting a single hit. Robin Ventura walked into the batter’s box, thinking about the base hit he would need to break up Hawkins’ spectacular performance and score the potential winning runs for Chicago.
Ventura slammed the first pitch he saw deep into left field. The intense crosswinds that had been keeping balls in the park all day caused left fielder Jim Leyritz to overrun the pop fly. Then every outfielder’s worst nightmare played out in front of all 30,000 people at Comiskey Park. In a desperate attempt to recover and catch it, Leyritz fell as the ball bounced off the tip of his glove and rolled along the left field wall. He eventually threw the ball back to the infield, but not before Ventura reached second and all three baserunners reached home plate. Another spectacular error by right fielder Jesse Barfield, one of the best defensive right fielders in the game at that point, allowed Ventura to reach home too, making the score 4-0 White Sox. The inning mercifully ended with with Dan Pasqua flying out to shortstop. Andy Hawkins walked off the mound having allowed four unearned runs, but not a single hit.
Sox relief pitcher Scott Radinsky, fittingly, closed out the game without allowing a single hit, thus ending one of the weirdest, wildest games the South Side had ever seen. After the final out, the losing pitcher Hawkins received a standing ovation from all 30,000 fans at Comiskey Park, and a lot of well deserved pats on the back and congratulations from his fellow teammates, having technically thrown a no-hitter. Not just any no-hitter, but indisputably the craziest, most ridiculous one ever seen in the 150 year history of Major League Baseball. And up until the Nationals began to make the playoffs, this game was unquestionably one of the best examples of a baseball team doing really well, only to completely fall apart.
But, as the saying goes, and as the infamous Andy Hawkins has said many times after throwing the most confusing, amazing, terrible no hitter ever pitched: “That’s baseball.”