By: Daniel Wilkins
Ah, the no-no. A rare feat (that’s getting rarer) that baseball fans only witness about once a season, or even worse. 27 outs, no hits, regardless of the number of base-runners allowed. There’s been exactly 299 no-hitters and perfect games dating back to 1870, and some seem like normal starts, while others require in-depth accounts that even fiction couldn’t replicate.
Let’s look at some of the most extreme examples:
No-Hitter On LSD
Dock Ellis was a starter who was best known for his Pirates tenure from 1968 to 1975. Right in the middle of it, in 1970, Dock Ellis ended up throwing a no-hitter on June 12. He managed to throw the gem while on “little sleep”, as he showed up to the ballpark 90 minutes before first pitch. Even crazier, Ellis later admitted that he achieved the no-hitter while under the influence of LSD, a hallucinogenic drug. Ironically, the next season, Ellis would be selected to his first and only All-Star team, and finish fourth in Cy Young voting.
On September 4, 1993, one-handed pitcher Jim Abbott threw a no-hitter at the old Yankee Stadium. By one-handed, I mean that in the most literal sense, because Abbott was born without most of his right hand. As a lefty, he had a special glove for his right hand, and still defied the odds and had a decent career. Abbott even had two base hits and an RBI, proving that one-handed swings are really cool.
Throwing one no-hitter is hard enough. Over 90% of the pitchers who threw a no-hitter or a perfect game only accomplished the achievement once in their careers. The lucky few, like Homer Bailey and Jake Arrieta, have done it twice. However, Nolan Ryan has a record that will not be broken for a thousand years.
If you want to be like Ryan, you must throw seven no-hitters, and two of them are after you turn 40 years old. Do you think you’re in good enough shape to do that? You probably aren't.
Hitter-Friendly Park, Hitter-Hostile Pitcher
We remember Hideo Nomo for two things: First, he was one of the best Japanese pitchers of all time. Secondly, Nomo had a windup that looked like something out of a Tasmanian Devil cartoon. As described in the title, Nomo was a hitter-hostile pitcher, and he had the best start of his career in a hitter-friendly park. That park is Coors Field, in Colorado, with a mile-high height above sea level. Baseballs usually fly there, but the opposite was said on September 17, 1996, when Nomo hurled his first career no-no, and the only no-hitter ever recorded at Coors Field.
Obscurity At Its Finest
Sure, players like Kershaw, Seaver, and Ryan have completed the feat, but who are some other players who’ve thrown a no-hitter and are less notable? Some examples are:
- Charlie Lea, 1981 (injuries derailed career after 7 years)
- Mike Warren, 1983 (threw no-no as rookie, retired in 1985 with a 5.06 ERA)
- Joe Cowley, 1986 (short 5-year career and a 4.20 ERA)
- Juan Nieves, 1987 (4.71 ERA in 3-season career)
- Francisco Cordova, 1997 (9 H/9 in 5-year career)
- Jose Jimenez, 1999 (converted to a 5 ERA reliever one year after the no-hitter)
- Bud Smith, 2001 (retired ONE YEAR after the no-hitter, at 22)
- Jonathan Sanchez, 2009 (injuries derailed 8-year stint with 4.70 ERA)
- Dallas Braden, 2010 (injuries derailed career)
- Philip Humber, 2012 (threw perfect game in a 6.44 ERA season)
- Henderson Alvarez, 2013 (9.5 H/9 in 6 years)
- Chris Heston, 2015 (mediocre pitcher, currently FA)
Daniel Wilkins covers MLB for thedugoutonline.com and he previously covered Major League Baseball for The Pinch Runner.