When Philip Humber pitched the 21st perfect game in major league history last week, he became the seventh pitcher to throw a no-hitter after wearing a Met uniform. Humber joins Nolan Ryan, right, Tom Seaver, Mike Scott, Dwight Gooden, David Cone and Hideo Nomo on that list
Of note, Ryan threw a record seven no-hitters. Gooden and Cone each pitched no-hitters for the Yankees; Cone’s was a perfect game. Nomo had no-hitters both before (Dodgers) and after (Red Sox) joining the Mets.
Eight other pitchers recorded no-hitters before joining the Mets. Hall of Famer Warren Spahn, and Don Cardwell, Dean Chance, Dock Ellis, John Candelaria, Bret Saberhagen, Scott Erickson, and Kenny Rogers (perfect game) are members of that club.
(Of note, former Met Alejandro Pena was part of a three-man no-hitter for Atlanta in 1991 after pitching for the Mets. And Billy Wagner (Houston) and Ricardo Rincon (Pittsburgh) were part of multi-pitcher no-hitters before they joined the Mets.)
Related Blog: SportsLifer first blogged about the Mets no-hit history (or lack thereof) in 2008 with a piece headlined “Yes, That’s Correct, No No-Nos for Mets.”
“Spahn and Sain and Pray for Rain” was the battle cry of the 1948 Boston Braves.
Johnny Sain was born to a trivia answer. Last pitcher to face Babe Ruth, first pitcher to face Jackie Robinson, half of one of baseball’s most famous phrases, last man to coach a 30-game winner.
Here are 10 bits of trivia about Johnny Sain:
1. Sain began his career in 1942, and finished with a 4-7 record with the Boston Braves. He then entered the service, and did not resume pitching in the major leagues until 1946.
2. Sain threw the last pitch to Babe Ruth in an organized game. During World War II, Sain was a Navy aviator and pitched for a military team that included Ted Williams and other big leaguers. On July 28, 1943, his team played an exhibition game at Yankee Stadium against a group of major leaguers managed by Babe Ruth. Sain walked the Babe, who was then 48 years old.
3. Sain threw the first pitch in the major leagues to Jackie Robinson on April 15, 1947, at Ebbets Field in Brooklyn. Robinson grounded out to shortstop, but the Dodgers went on to beat Sain and the Braves, 5-3.
4.Johnny Sain was a four-time, 20-game winner, all with the Boston Braves. He won 20 games three straight times from 1946-48, and won 20 again in 1950.
5. “Spahn and Sain and Pray for Rain” was the battle cry of the 1948 Braves. Boston Post sports editor Gerald V. Hern wrote a poem about the Braves dependence on two starters, Warren Spahn and Johnny Sain. The poem was inspired by the performance of Spahn and Sain during the Braves’ 1948 pennant drive. Boston swept a Labor Day doubleheader, with Spahn throwing a complete 14-inning win in the opener, and Sain pitching a shutout in the second game. Following two off days, it rained. Spahn won the next day, and Sain won the day after that. Three days later, Spahn won, then Sain won the next day. After one more off day, the two pitchers were brought back, and won another doubleheader, combining to go 8-0 over 12 days.
6. The Braves reached the World Series in 1948 for the first time in 34 years. In the opener at Braves Field, Sain pitched a four-hit, 1-0 shutout over Cleveland’s Bob Feller, who allowed only two hits but lost. Sain pitched another complete game but lost to the Indians 2-1 in Game Four. Cleveland won the Series in six games, the last time the Tribe won a World Series.
7. Sain was traded to the Yankees during the 1951 season for Lew Burdette and $50,000. Sain was a member of three World Championship squads in New York. Six years later, Burdette beat the Yankees three times in the 1957 World Series to pitch the Milwaukee Braves to victory and win the MVP.
8. Sain was traded from the Yankees to the Kansas City A’s, along with Hall of Famer Enos Slaughter, for pitcher Sonny Dixon and cash in 1955, and retired shortly after. He finished with a 139-116 career record.
9. That’s the pitching side of the Sain ledger. An outstanding contact hitter, Sain always helped himself with the bat. He had a .245 career average and struck out a mere 20 times in 774 lifetime at-bats.
10. Sain later became a pitching coach with the Yankees, Twins, Tigers, White Sox and Atlanta Braves before retiring in 1986. He coached baseball’s last 30-game winner, Denny McLain. The only time Whitey Ford, Jim Bouton, Mudcat Grant, Earl Wilson, Denny McLain, Wilbur Wood, Stan Bahnsen and Jim Kaat won 20 games, Johnny Sain was their pitching coach.
Teddy Ballgame, Ted Williams, hit his first major league homer on April 23, 1939.
On this day in 1903, the New York Highlanders — now known as the Yankees – won their first major-league game, a 7-2 decision over the Washington Senators behind starting pitcher Harry Howell (no, not the former Rangers defenseman, knucklehead).
Exactly 59 years later, April 23, 1962, the Mets won their first game, beating the Pittsburgh Pirates 9-1 behind Jay Hook, below, to end a nine-game losing streak. The Mets would go on to lose a record 120 games that season.
Ted Williams in 1939 and Hank Aaron in 1954 each hit first major league home run on this date. Pete Rose got his first major league hit, a triple, 47 years ago today.
Cardinal third baseman Fernando Tatis enjoyed the greatest single inning in baseball history by hitting two grand slams in one inning — both against the Dodgers Chan Ho Park — on April 23, 1999. Park somehow survived and is still pitching today.
Hoyt Wilhelm isn’t pitching any more, but on this date in 1952 New York Giants knuckleballer homered in his first major league bat. He never hit another one — it was his only home run in 1,070 games.
On April 23, 1946, Ed Head of the Brooklyn Dodgers pitched a no-hitter against the Boston Braves at Ebbets Field. Head won, 5-0. At least Head came out ahead..
On this date in 1964, Houston’s Ken Johnson became the first pitcher ever to lose a nine-inning no-hitter,
Warren Spahn, the winningest left-hand pitcher in baseball history with 363 victories, was born on April 23. Another Hall of Famer, Sunny Jim Bottomley, was also born on April 23, as was ex-Brooklyn Dodger Dolph Camilli, and former Braves defensive standout and current White Sox Andruw Jones. Duke Carmel and Sean Henn are the only Yankees born on April 23.
These players … and others ….share a birthday with William Shakespeare, shown above, former President James Buchanan, Shirley Temple, Lee Majors, Roy Orbison …and the SportsLifer.
Juan Marichal, left, gives Wilie Mays a playful hug after the Giants – behind Mays home run — beat Warren Spahn and the Braves, 1-0, in 16 innings on July 2, 1963.
Forty-six years ago today, July 2, 1963, Hall of Famers Juan Marichal of San Francisco and Warren Spahn of Milwaukee hooked up in one of the most memorable pitching duels off all time.The two future Hall of Famers battled for nearly 16 scoreless innings before a home run by Willie Mays over the left-field fence won the game, 1-0.
Marichal gave up eight hits and struck out 10; and Spahn allowed nine hits while striking out two batters. Spahn walked just one man in 16 innings, an intentional pass to Mays in the 14th. Marichal gave up four walks.
Each hurler threw more than 200 pitches, heresy in this modern era of pitch counts.
Counting Marichal and Spahn, seven future Hall of Famers played in the game. Hank Aaron and Eddie Matthews played for the Braves and Mays,Willie McCovey and Orlando Cepeda for the Giants. Ironically, Mays homered against Spahn 12 years earlier at New York’s old Polo Grounds for his first major league hit.
A crowd of 15,921 witnessed the classic at chilly Candlestick Park. At one point in extra innings, Giants manager Alvin Dark asked Marichal if he wanted to come out. Marichal looked out at Spahn on the mound and said: “I’m not leaving while that old guy is still on the mound.” Spahn, right, was 42 at the time, enjoying his last great season.
Five days later Marichal matched the Cardinals’ Bob Gibson for six scoreless innings before Stan Musial finally broke his shutout streak with a two-run homer in the seventh. The Giants bullpen gave up three runs in the ninth as St. Louis won, 5-0.
Meanwhile, Spahn pitched a complete game, five-hut shutout in his next turn, beat the Houston Colt 45s, 4-0.
In 1963, Juan Marichal was 25-8 with a 2.41 ERA and 248 strikeouts. Spahn was 23-7 with a 1.88 ERA, And neither pitcher won the Cy Young Award.
That honor went to Los Angeles left-hander Sandy Koufax. who went 25-5 with a 1.88 ERA and struck out 306 batters. Until 1967 only one Cy Young Award was given; Koufax was also the National League MVP that year.
Nolan Ryan. Tom Seaver. Dwight Gooden. David Cone. Al Leiter. Warren Spahn. Hideo Nomo. What do all these men have in common?
All of them have thrown no-hitters. Some have thrown multiple no-hitters. Nolan Ryan holds the major-league record with seven.
None of them ever pitched a no-hitter for the New York Mets. In all, 14 pitchers who wore a Met uniform threw no-hitters — none of them while they were pitching for the Mets.
As amazing as it seems, since the franchise was founded in 1962, no Met has ever pitched a no-hitter. During that span, Mets’ pitchers have thrown 30 one-hitters, including five by Tom Seaver, three of which were no-hitters broken up in the ninth inning.
In the summer of ’69, Seaver had a perfect game going with one out in the ninth when Jimmy Qualls lined the only hit of the game for the Cubs.
Seaver, a 300-game winner, pitched his only career no-hitter for the Reds.
Two former Mets threw no-hitters for the Yankees, Doc Gooden in 1996 and David Cone, who pitched a perfect game in 1999.
The Mets have been no-hit, six times in their history, most notably by Sandy Koufax in 1962 and Jim Bunning, who pitched a perfect game at Shea Stadium in its inaugural season, 1964. Bob Moose in 1969, Bill Stoneman in 1972, Ed Halicki in 1975 and Darryl Kile in 1993 all pitched no-hitters against the Metropolitans.
Four teams in baseball history have never had a pitcher toss a no-hitter — Tampa Bay Rays (1998), Colorado Rockies (1993), San Diego Padres (1969) and the Mets (1962).
Update: Ubaldo Jiminez of the Rockies and Matt Garza of Tampa Bay both pitched no-hitters in 2010. That left the Mets and the Padres as the only teams without a no-hitter.