Hall of Famers I have seen

It began in 1958, my very first baseball game, Yankees vs. White Sox at the original Yankee Stadium. The Yanks had four Hall of Famers in their starting lineup that day, including Mickey Mantle in center, Yogi Berra in right, pitcher Whitey Ford and pinch-hitter Enos Slaughter..

Chicago’s keystone combination of second baseman Nellie Fox and shortstop Luis Aparicio was also Cooperstown bound. And managers Casey Stengel of the Yankees and Al Lopez of the White Sox made it eight Hall of Famers in the house that afternoon.

That day my father even arranged for me to get an autograph from Hall of Fame pitcher Dizzy Dean, who was doing the Game of the Week for NBC.

Grand total, I’ve seen 58 Hall of Famers play in my lifetime. The list ranges from Ted Williams to Stan Musial, Willie Mays to Hank Aaron, Juan Marichal to Catfish Hunter, Carl Yastrzemski to Reggie Jackson, and Greg Maddux, Tommy Glavine and John Smoltz. Saw both of the 2016 inductees, Ken Griffey, Jr., and Mike Piazza. Saw Piazza as a Dodger hit a home run against the Rookies in Coors Fields’ inaugural season, 1996.

In 2008, I was in Cooperstown for the induction of reliever Goose Gossage. I’ve seen 14 Hall of Famers hit home runs, and five times saw two future Hall of Famers homer in the same game – Ted Williams and Mantle at Yankee Stadium in 1960, Mays and Billy Williams at Candlestick Park in 1962, Yaz and Reggie in the 1975 ALCS and again in the 1978 AL playoff game at Fenway Park, and Dave Winfield and Rickey Henderson in the refurbished Yankee Stadium in 1986.

Was there when Mays hit a grand slam in 1962, and Carlton Fisk hit a bases-loaded HR at Opening Day in Fenway Park, 1973.

Witnessed wins by Jim Palmer, Ferguson Jenkins, Don Sutton, Phil Niekro and Randy Johnson, Watched Robin Roberts hurl a complete game shutout for the Orioles against the Yankees in 1965 Saw saves by Rollie Fingers and Goose Gossage. Saw Nolan Ryan strike out 15 in a 1977 game against the Red Sox.

Saw seven Hall of Famers in a game at Candlestick Park – Willie Mays, Orlando Cepada and Juan Marichal of the Giants and Ernie Banks, Billy Williams, Ron Santo and a young Lou Brock for the Cubs. Willie McCovey of the Giants didn’t play that day; sadly never got to see him play.

I’ve also seen 9 Hall of Fame managers, including Leo Durocher, Earl Weaver, Sparky Anderson, and Dick Williams, along with Stengel and Lopez and three recent inductees – Joe Torre, Bobby Cox and Tony La Russa.

Once got an autograph from Phil Rizzuto in a luxury suite at Yankee Stadium. Phil offered me a cannoli, and signed my program over to my three kids.

Here’s the my complete Hall of Fame list, in order of induction:

HALL OF FAMERS I HAVE SEEN

PLAYERS

Ted Williams

Stan Musial

Yogi Berra

Whitey Ford

Mickey Mantle

Robin Roberts

Ernie Banks

Eddie Matthews

Willie Mays

Al Kaline

Duke Snider

Hank Aaron

Frank Robinson

Juan Marichal

Brooks Robinson

Luis Aparicio

Harmon Killebrew

Lou Brock

Enos Slaughter

Hoyt Wilhelm

Catfish Hunter

Billy Williams

Carl Yastrzemski

Jim Palmer

Rod Carew

Ferguson Jenkins

Gaylord Perry

Rollie Fingers

Tom Seaver

Reggie Jackson

Nellie Fox

Phil Niekro

Don Sutton

George Brett

Orlando Cepeda

Nolan Ryan

Carlton Fisk

Tony Perez

Dave Winfield

Gary Carter

Eddie Murray

Dennis Eckersley

Paul Molitor

Wade Boggs

Tony Gwynn

Cal Ripken, Jr.

Goose Gossage

Jim Rice

Roberto Alomar

Ron Santo

Tom Glavine

Greg Maddux

Frank Thomas

Randy Johnson

Pedro Martinez

John Smoltz

Ken Griffey, Jr.

Mike Piazza

MANAGERS

Casey Stengel

Al Lopez

Leo Durocher

Earl Weaver

Sparky Anderson

Dick Williams

Bobby Cox

Tony La Russa

Joe Torre

58 players, 9 managers

AUTOGRAPHS

Dizzy Dean, Phil Rizzuto

HOME RUNS

Mickey Mantle (1960)

Ted Williams (1960)

Willie Mays (1962), grand slam

Billy Williams (1962)

Harmon Killebrew (1967)

Carl Yastrzemski (1970, 1978)

Reggie Jackson (1971, 1978 (2), 1979)

Carlton Fisk (1973, 2 HRs), 1 grand slam

Jim Rice (1975, 1978)

Dave Winfield (1983, 1986)

Eddie Murray (1978)

Wade Boggs (1994)

Rickey Henderson (1986)

Mike Piazza (1996)


No-hitters against the Yankees a rare event

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 No-No

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.

Houston’s Posse

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.


At age 50, Mets still seeking first no-hitter

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.”


CC Has Serious Shot at 300 Wins

When Randy Johnson won his 300th game two years ago, staggering towards the finish line of a brilliant career, there was strong talk that the Big Unit might be baseball’s last 300-game winner, given the limitations and constraints (read that pitch counts) of the modern game. Not so fast.

CC Sabathia already has 167 wins, and he won’t turn 31 until July 21. This is his 11th major league season, and through the first 10 the Yankee southpaw has averaged just under 16 wins a season.

Sabathia is 167-92 for a .645 winning percentage. He’s led the American League in wins the past two years with 19 and 21 victories respectively.

CC already has 10 wins this year, as many as anyone in the majors. He’s durable, having pitched at least 230 innings in every season since 2007.  Never been seriously injured, hardly ever misses a turn, been on the DL just once in his career, that for a strained oblique early in the 2006 season with the Indians. No arm troubles. The very definition of a staff ace, a horse.

Do the math. If Sabathia keeps on his current pace and pitches eight more seasons, he’d reach 300 wins  somewhere around the age of 39.

Recent 300-Game Winners
That would be younger than three of the four pitchers who won their 300th game since 2000 — Roger Clemens (40) in 2003 with the Yankees, Tom Glavine (41) with the Mets in 2007, and Johnson (45) with the Giants.

Only Greg Maddux, who won his 300th at the age of 38 with the Cubs, would be younger. Maddux went on to win 355 games, eighth on the all-time list and one more than Clemens.

Before that, Nolan Ryan in 1990 was the last pitcher to reach 300 wins, at age 43, with the Rangers.

Only four active pitchers have more wins than Sabathia — Tim Wakefield (197), Roy Halladay (179), Tim Hudson (171) and Livan Hernandez (171). Halladay is the youngest of this group at age 34, Wakefield the oldest at 44.

Only 24 pitchers have won 300 games, and of that group only six — Warren Spahn, Steve Carlton, Eddie Plank, Glavine, Johnson and Lefty Grove — are left-handers.

CC Sabathia has a long ways to go, but he has a legitimate shot at becoming the 25th pitcher in baseball history to reach 300 wins.


Yes, That’s Correct, No No-Nos for Mets

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.