I begin this morning’s blog by re-winding ever so slightly to yesterday afternoon. While my wife an I were visiting with our daughter and her family (including our beautiful granddaughter), my ESPN App notification went off. As those of you who get notifications from ESPN can relate to the notification said that Marlins pitcher Edison Volquez had not allowed a hit through six innings. Honestly, I don’t take these headlines seriously until around the eighth inning. Sure enough, the notifications kept coming.
On our way home we were listening to the local broadcast of the game. This is where it got intense. Volquez faced the minimum 27 Diamondbacks batters, and polished off his first ever no-hitter by striking out the side in the ninth inning. It was the sixth no-hitter in Marlins franchise history.
I began to really think about what had happened at Marlins Park on this rainy South Florida afternoon. It was a minor piece of Major League Baseball history, one that will be etched in Marlins team lore forever after. I started to reflect back at how a no-hitter can be a highlight for any fan base, even if they are at the bottom of the standings. One game, one gem, and usually by one pitcher. For that moment, for that day a pitcher is etched in history.
Miami Marlins pitcher Edinson Volquez is mobbed by his teammates following his no-hit shutout of the Arizona Diamondbacks yesterday.
The first and only time that I witnessed one of these pitching rarities was on September 6, 2003. I had witnessed bits and pieces of many no-hitters before then. I’ve seen the pitcher finish and be mobbed by his teammates and the celebration afterwards. The only time I witnessed a no-hitter from beginning to end, was from the right field stands at what is now Hard Rock Stadium in Miami. My family had partial season tickets in the old ballpark, this contest with oddly enough, the Arizona Diamondbacks was on our ticket plan. My son was working that night, and my wife was unable to go to the game. I went to the game by myself (which I have been known to do).
Anibal Sanchez took the mound for the then Florida Marlins that night. I glanced up at the scoreboard after the fourth inning and happened to notice that the D-Backs had not gotten a base hit yet. I thought to myself, OK it’s only the fourth inning, but it put me in tune to what might be happening. I don’t remember what inning, or what out it was, but I do remember left fielder Josh Willingham making a diving and sliding catch. Most no-hitters and perfect games have big plays by the defense, yesterday was no exception.
Willingham’s gem got me even more excited. I called my wife somewhere in the middle of the game and asked her if she was watching. I then told her that Sanchez was “pitching a really good game!” It’s considered bad luck to utter the words “no-hitter” during the game. The final out that night was a ground ball to Miguel Cabrera at third, Miggy threw the ball across the diamond to Mike Jacobs at first to complete Sanchez’s history making gem. The roar of the crowd at the old stadium rivaled that of the night that the Marlins clinched the Wild Card in 2003. For that brief moment the Marlins and Anibal Sanchez were the story of baseball.
Nolan Ryan pitched a record seven no-hitters in his Hall of Fame career.
The no-hitter has put many pitchers on the historical map of Major League Baseball, but no hurler says no-hitter more than Hall of Famer Nolan Ryan. Ryan pitched 7 such gems in his career, spanning both leagues and three teams. Ryan pitched for the New York Mets early in his career but didn’t throw is firs no-hitter until he was a member of the California Angels.
Yankees Don Larsen is embraced by catcher Yogi Berra following the only perfect game in World Series history.
There have been two no-hitters in postseason history. On October 6, 2010, Roy Halliday of the Philadelphia Phillies pitched a no-hitter against the Cincinnati Reds in Game 1 of the National League Division Series. On October 8, 1956, New York Yankees’ pitcher was perfect against the Brooklyn Dodgers in Game 5 of the World Series. Perfect games are an even bigger rarity, and a subject for another time.
A baseball season can come and go without a pitcher having a unique day like Edinson Volquez had in Miami yesterday. Other years can have multiple no-no’s. To this writer the no-hitter and the perfect game will always be a special achievement. Congratulations Edinson!
A program note….Due to family commitments I will not be publishing a Wednesday Night Baseball blog this week. See you next Sunday!