The book: “Baseball’s No-Hit Wonders: More than a Century of Pitching’s Greatest Feats”
The author: Dirk Lammers
The vital statistics: Unbridled Books, 496 pages, $25.95 (or $18.95 paperback). Released March 15
Find it: At Amazon.com, at Powells.com, at Vromans.com
The pitch: We’ve never seen a no hitter in person. Neither has the author, he admits.
Nor have we seen one on TV. Or heard one play out on the radio.
Just the very end of a few, after we heard about it in progress.
We find that some broadcasters have issues when speaking of one that’s in progress. We’ve not been real supportive of that philosophy.
So, in review:
See no no-no.
Hear no no-no.
Speak yes no-no.
We thought our streak was going to end as we watched, listened, spoke about, tweeted out and sized up what was happening when Dodgers rookie Ross Stripling dodged base hits in San Francisco in his major league debut not long ago.
You may have heard how it ended — manager Dave Roberts took him out once he reached 100 pitches with one out in the bottom of the eighth. More vital to the equation: Stripling just walked another batter and the tying run was coming to the plate. An even more important piece to the puzzle: Stripling, and his dad, seemed fine with it, considering the comeback from Tommy John surgery and realizing he’d like to pitch more than just this one game.
Lammers, an Associated Press baseball writer, would have been stressing over deadlines and rewrites had he been there to watch it all — the next batter homered, and the game was eventually lost.
Lammers might have also wanted to rewrite this book had that happened to end in a no-no, but that could have been dealt with in future updates.
Left to wonder if Stripling just kept going, maybe he would have reached the 149 pitches that one-time Dodgers phenom Edwin Jackson needed to get his no-no for Arizona against Tampa Bay in 2010, which Lammers notes in one chapter about no-hitters and pitch counts. How appropriate.
Dennis Martinez needed only 96 of them when he threw his perfect game at Dodger Stadium against the Dodgers for Montreal. But Darryl Kile took just 83 for his no-hitter with Houston against the New York Mets in 1993 (and that includes giving up a run).
That first performance by Stripling, who goes to the mound in his third start of 2016 tonight in Atlanta, reminded us immediately of the day in 1990 when the Angels’ Doug Rader took out Mark Langston as he was working on a no-hitter in his debut with the franchise. Langston pitched seven innings and made 98 pitches. Mike Witt pitched the last two no-hit innings to complete it.
Truth is, Langston asked to come out.
And Lammers has a chapter about combined no-nos.
Included is that Angels game in 2010 when Jered Weaver and Jose Arrendondo put their resources together for a no-hitter against the Dodgers. And lost.
The stuff just writes itself.
A few have done books about specific no-hit games, as well as summarize the history of MLB no-hitters, and depending on the age-level target, they can be as simple or complicated as the author chooses.
What Lammers accomplishes — and what you’d expect with his background — is a succinct, clean job, nothing flashy, but gathering all the necessary material to make us go back and appreciate what did happen. And perhaps inspire to read more about them if they’d slipped your mind.
Some of the interviews he did himself and it’s accounted for in more than 100 pages in the back of appendix charts, bibliography, notes and index.
What stands out?
The chapter entitled “Hollywood Hustle” relives Bo Belinski’s no-hitter for the Angels in 1962, and what happened afterward.
One whole chapter is on Sandy Koufax’s no-hit stardom (including a photograph of a rare 1964 “talking baseball card” of Koufax), followed by a chapter on Nolan Ryan’s career of seven no-nos, and one more chapter about the July night in 1990 when both Fernando Valenzuela and Dave Stewart threw back-to-back no hitters on national TV.
Should a broadcaster be superstitious about using the phrase “no-hitter” while one is going on. As Lammers found, the L.A. Times quotes Vin Scully on the subject — in 1960 — where he insists the audience must be informed, and the Times is also cited as having a piece more recently when the Angels’ Victor Rojas defends his approach.
Chapter 16 is a look at batters who have broken up no hitters — including the Yankees’ Horace Clarke, who did it three times in the span of 30 days in 1970, all in the ninth inning.
Are the San Diego Padres cursed by not having a no-hitter thrown by one of their pitchers going back to their birth in 1969? They must be, since there’s a chapter about the time manager Preston Gomez took out Clay Kirby for a pinch hitter in the bottom of the eighth inning and his team trailing 1-0 — even though Kirby was throwing a no-no.
The sidebar with that chapter on how Ted Giannoulas (aka the San Diego Chicken) accepts some blame for his antics possibly ruining a no-hit by by St. Louis’ Ricky Horton against the Padres is one we’d never heard about.
No, no, no. It’s not your fault.
More to know:
= The author’s website that keeps track of no-hitters.
= The Associated Press felt this was worthy enough to do a story on it. By AP book reviewer Jeff Ayres.
== Previous released books on the history of no hitters includes:
= James Buckey Jr. did “Unhittable: Reliving the Magic and Drama of Baseball’s Best-Pitched Games,” in 2004 and then “Perfect: The Inside Story of Baseball’s Twenty Perfect Games,” in 2012.