Justin Verlander joined an elite group when he tossed the third no-hitter of his career yesterday.
Verlander became just the sixth pitcher to throw three or more no-hitters. He joins baseball legends Nolan Ryan (7), Sandy Koufax (4), Cy Young (3), and Bob Feller (3). And then there’s Larry Corcoran. Hardly a household name.
Pitching for the Chicago White Stockings, Corcoran threw no-hitters against the Boston Red Caps in 1880, Worcester Worcesters in 1882 and Providence Grays in 1884.
Corcoran was one of the smallest players in baseball history. Born in 1859 to Irish immigrant parents, the Brooklyn native stood just 5’3” and weighed 127 pounds. Nicknamed “Little Corcoran,” he was one of the early masters of the curveball.
Corcoran won 170 games for the White Stockings over that five-year span, including 43 wins in 1880 and 35 in 1884. Corcoran averaged 456 innings and 34 wins per year during that stretch, helping Chicago to three National League pennants.
But all those innings put a strain on his arm, and his career went downhill after 1884. Corcoran later pitched for the New York Giants, Washington Nationals, and Indianapolis Hoosiers, and wound up his career with a 177-89 mark, a 2.36 ERA and those three no-hitters.
Unable to adapt to life after baseball, Corcoran turned to alcohol. He died in 1881 of kidney failure. Larry Corcoran was just 32 years old.
Fifty-six years ago today, September 20, 1958, the Yankees were no-hit by knuckleballer Hoyt Wilhelm. And discounting Houston’s six-pitcher no-hitter against New York in 2003, the Yankees haven’t been no-hit since – although they came close on numerous occasions.
Eight times since the Wilhelm gem the Yankees have entered the ninth inning without a hit. And each time they managed to break up a no-hitter in their last at bat.
In 1967, on Opening Day at Yankee Stadium, Boston left-hander Billy Rohr took a no-hitter into the ninth inning against Hall of Famer Whitey Ford. Rohr was one strike away from history when Elston Howard hit a soft single into right-center field. Rohr beat the Yankees in his next start, but won just one more game in the majors after that.
In the space of one month in 1970, Yankee second baseman Horace Clarke broke up three possible no-hitters in the ninth. Jim Rooker of Kansas City, Sonny Siebert of Boston and Joe Niekro of Detroit were the victims.
Reggie Jackson broke up a Nolan Ryan no-hit bid in 1979 with a one-out single against the Angels’ Hall of Famer. Two years later, Rick Cerone turned the trick against Boston’s Bobby Ojeda. And in 1989, Roberto Kelly ruined Dave Stieb’s perfect game by doubling to left with two outs in the ninth. Kelly then scored on a single by Steve Sax, but Stieb got Luis Polonia to ground out and preserve his 2-1 victory. The last near-miss occurred in 2006, when Robinson Cano hit a line single to left against Baltimore’s Daniel Cabrera with one out in the ninth to break up the no-hitter. Cano was then erased when Bobby Abreu hit into a double play to end the game.
Wilhelm’s no-hitter took place at the old Baltimore Memorial Stadium. Orioles catcher Gus Triandos accounted for the only run of the game with a home run in the seventh inning against Yankee reliever Bobby Shantz, who was pitching in relief of Dan Larsen. Less than two years earlier, Larsen threw the only no-hitter in World Series history as New York beat the Brooklyn Dodgers 2-0.
A total of six Hall of Famers played in the Wilhelm game, Mickey Mantle and pinch-hitters Yogi Berra and Enos Slaughter for the Yankees, and Brooks Robinson, Dick Williams (who made it as a manager) and Hoyt Wilhelm for the Orioles.
Wilhelm was just 3-10 in 1958, splitting the season between Cleveland and the Orioles. He started four games that year, and just 52 in his entire career.
The Astros six-man no-hitter took place on June 11, 2003. Roy Oswalt started for Houston but was injured early in the contest. Pete Munron, Kirk Saarloos, Brad Lidge, Octavio Dotel and Billy Wagner finished the task.
It was the most pitchers ever to combine on a no-hitter in major league history — twice, four had done the trick. And it was the first time in 6,981 games — the longest streak in major league history – that the Yankees had been no-hit. Between those no-hitter, the Yankees won nine World Series and 15 American League pennants.