Wednesday, September 12, 2018

The Double NO-NO
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TRIVIA QUESTION:  In his 19 big league seasons, infielder Dick Schofield played for seven different teams. He played for the Cardinals for eight of those seasons. How many different stints over that time did he play for St. Louis ?

ANSWER TO TRIVIA QUESTION IN THE PREVIOUS COLUMN: While Dave Nicholson was setting strike out records on the South Side of Chicago with the White Sox, it wasn't too much later the North Side got it's whiff of the Windy City. Dave Kingman came on the scene for the Cubs in 1978 and for two fulls seasons let the wind fly by striking out 111 and 131 times. The difference however between Kingman and Nicholson was Kingman did connect often enough and belted 28 homers in 1978 and 48 to lead the NL in 1979. In all during his career Kingman had 13 seasons in which he struck out at least 100 times. He played 16 seasons.

No-hitters are rare in major league baseball, coming at just a few each season. They are the stuff dreams are made of, and if you are a fan who was lucky enough to be at a game in which a pitcher tossed a no-no, it would be a memory for life. Imagine fans who had tickets to the Cardinals-Giants series in late September, 1968 at Candlestick Park. Imagine attending both games on September 17th and 18th? Imagine seeing back to back no-hit gems. Oh to be a season ticket holder that year!

It happened and it was one of the most rare feats in baseball history. On Tuesday night only 9,456 people turned out to see Bob Gibson face Gaylord Perry. It was the year of the pitcher, Gibson was having an incredible season in which he finished 22-9 and an amazing 1.12 ERA. Perry was 16-15 2.45 to finish a strong season. Gibson was marvelous, allowing just four hits. Perry was UN-hittable; literally.
Second baseman Ron Hunt, batting second, came up in the first inning and blasted one of his two homers on the year to give the Giants a 1-0 lead. Perry made it stand up. Perry walked only two and struck out eight different Cardinals in recording his nine strikeouts. The Cardinals never threatened and when Perry shut down Lou Brock (batting for Gibson), Bobby Tolan and Curt Flood in the ninth, it was all over.

Giant fans jumped for joy. For 1:40 minutes, a very quick game, San Francisco put the hurt on the Cardinals whom they still trailed by 11 games in the race for the NL title, eventually captured by St. Louis. But the joy was short lived. The next day a measly 4,703 fans turned out to see one of the greatest and yet rarest feats in the 100 year history of game; a second no-hitter. It was the revenge no-hitter if you will.

The Cardinals sent journeyman pitcher Ray Washburn to the mound, who during the year of the pitcher, was 12-7 at the time. San Francisco countered with Bobby Bolin. Washburn was having what would be his best season and finished 14-8, 2.26. Bolin had been better and was near the end of his best run. He'd close it out with a 10-5 record and a 1.99 ERA.
The two squared off in the afternoon after a night game. Washburn was magnificent if not a bit wild. He would walk five batters while striking out eight. Both pitchers were terrific for six innings. The Cardinals got the scoring going in the seventh when a one out single by Orlando Cepeda and a double by Mike Shannon made it 1-0.

The only threat to the no-no came in the seventh when Washburn issued a lead off walk to Hunt. After he struck out Willie Mays for the second time on the day, he issued a walk to Willie McCovey. Jim Ray Hart hit a gounder to second which Phil Gagliano fielded and tossed to Cepeda. Both runners moved up putting them both in scoring position. Washburn reared back and struck out Dick Dietz to end the inning and the threat.

The Cards scored a second run in the eighth when an infield single by Flood scored Dick Schofield from third to make it 2-0. Ducky had doubled and moved to third on a sacrifice bunt. 

After issuing a walk in the eighth, Washburn, taking a 2-0 lead into the ninth faced his most difficult test. He'd face Hunt, Mays and McCovey again. Two harmless infield grounders and a fly ball to center cemented Washburn's place in baseball history. He had pitched a no-hitter the very day after his team was no-hit by the same club and it took a bit longer. The game lasted 2:19. Amazing to say the least. The fact only 4700 fans saw the second game was pretty sad. It would be nice to hear from any fan who was at both games. Now that would be amazing.

Thank you to those of you who purchased my book after reading this column. It has been appreciated. 

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