August 14, 1971: Bob Gibson pitches his ‘greatest game,’ no-hits the Pirates

Bob Gibson predicted many times throughout his career that he would never throw a no-hitter.[1] Before taking the mound against the Pittsburgh Pirates on August 14, 1971, he still had never thrown one. Not in college. Not in the minors. Not even in the 1968, a season dubbed the “year of the pitcher,” in no small part due to Gibson’s dominance.

At Creighton University, Gibson once pitched a no-hitter into the sixth inning before the manager moved him to center field for the remainder of the game.[2] He recalled coming within one out of a no-hitter while pitching for the Cardinals’ Triple-A affiliate in Rochester in 1958, and had thrown one-hitters against the Philadelphia Phillies in 1965 and the San Diego Padres in 1970.

But by 1971, his third decade in the majors, Gibson had yet to throw a complete-game no-hitter. He and third baseman Joe Torre even joked about it half an hour before the start of the game, though the newspaper accounts of the conversation differed slightly.

According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Gibson jokingly told third baseman Joe Torre, “I think I’ll throw a no-hitter.”

“Naw,” Torre replied. “You throw too many pitches.”[3]

The wire services reported that when Gibson told Torre, “I might pitch a no-hitter,” he reconsidered and said, “Nah, I don’t want to do it. It takes too many pitches.”[4]

Catcher Ted Simmons, however, was ready to believe.

“Just two nights ago, when we were eating, I said Gibson would pitch a no-hitter Saturday,” he said. “Go ask Chris Zachary if I’m not right. He was there too.”

Zachary confirmed Simmons’ tale with a nod.[5]

Meanwhile, there was no doubt that Pirates slugger Willie Stargell, who accounted for three of Gibson’s 10 strikeouts, including the final out of the ninth inning, was a believer.

“All those people who said that Gibson was washed up should have had to bat against him tonight,” he said.[6]

The Cardinals made sure that Gibson had a comfortable cushion before he even threw a pitch. After Matty Alou walked and Jose Cruz singled, Torre and Simmons hit back-to-back RBI singles. Right fielder Joe Hague followed with a three-run home run to center field that made it 5-0.

In the second inning, Gibson struck out May but the ball got past Simmons for a wild pitch, allowing May to reach first. Gibson then struck out Bob Robertson for his third strikeout of the inning, then got Bill Mazeroski to hit a foul pop fly into Alou’s glove at first base.

“Don’t ask me how fast he was,” Mazeroski said, “because I didn’t see a fastball all night. He gave me sliders, good sliders on the outside of the plate. I broke two bats the first two times up.”[7]

Gibson walked Jackie Hernandez to lead off the third before retiring the side in order, and issued a one-out walk to Stargell in the fourth. He then retired the next 10 batters, including May on a deep fly ball that forced Cruz to make a running, one-handed grab at the warning track.

“When I hit it, I thought it was going out,” May said. “I’ve only got one left-field homer in this park, and I thought the ball I hit tonight was harder than that one.”[8]

Gibson said, “It was a high fly ball, and I knew if it came down Cruz would catch it. If it didn’t come down, it was going out of the park. Somehow I always felt it was going to come down, though.”[9]

That play didn’t worry Gibson as much as a high chopper in the eighth inning off the bat of Dave Cash. Torre was playing in at third to defend against the bunt and Torre had to leap to keep the ball from bouncing into the outfield.

“That was the only play that really scared me,” Gibson said.[10]

Meanwhile, the Cardinals’ lineup continued to build its lead. In the fifth inning, Ted Kubiak hit a bases-loaded double that scored Torre and Simmons. Gibson hit a sacrifice fly into right field that made the score 8-0.

In the top of the eighth, Cardinals shortstop Dal Maxvill drew a bases-loaded walk and Gibson hit a two-run single to make the score 11-0.

At that point, the only drama lay in whether Gibson could complete his bid for a no-hitter.

In the ninth, Gibson got Vic Davalillo to hit a ground ball to Maxvill at shortstop and Al Oliver to ground out to Kubiak at second base.

“Gibson threw the ball by me all four times at bat,” Oliver said. “He’s the first guy who has ever overpowered me. I just couldn’t get the bat around.”[11]

With two outs and Stargell at the plate, Gibson went to his slider for his 124th pitch of the game. Home plate umpire Harry Wendelstedt called it a strike for Gibson’s 10th strikeout of the day.

“I was looking for a fastball and then that slider cut over the plate at the last instant,” Stargell said.[12]

“That last pitch to Stargell exploded,” Cardinals manager Red Schoendienst said.[13]

It was Gibson’s 201st win and the 48th shutout of his career. Though the Pirates had four baserunners, none advanced past first base.

With the win, Gibson improved to 11-10 on the season and lowered his ERA to 3.22. It had been a challenging, injury-prone season for the veteran right-hander, including a three-week stint on the disabled list in June due to a torn thigh muscle.[14]

“This thrilled me, it really did,” Gibson said. “After it was over, I felt like we’d won the seventh game of the World Series.”[15]

It was an equal thrill for Simmons, who went 4-for-6 with a double and three runs scored, improving his batting average for the season to .314.

“That was the greatest thrill of my life, catching a no-hitter,” Simmons said. “Man, he was throwing fire.”[16]

Torre went 4-for-6 and drove in his 95th RBI, increasing his batting average to .360. Ted Sizemore, Hague, and Kubiak each added two hits. Despite a banner day for the offense, they were happy to hand the spotlight to Gibson.

“You keep looking up at that big scoreboard and see they don’t have any hits,” said Gibson, who admitted he was aware of the no-hit bid throughout the game.

“In the last two innings, I was bearing down extra hard. I was trying not to make bad pitches. Even when I was getting behind in the count, I was being careful not to groove the ball. I was throwing sliders and curves with the count 3 and 2.”[17]

After the reporters had asked all their postgame interviews, the 35-year-old Gibson offered high praise for his performance.

“This was the greatest game I’ve ever pitched anywhere,” he said.[18]


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[1] Neal Russo, “Gibson Fires First No-Hitter,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, August 15, 1971: B1.

[2] Neal Russo, “Gibson Fires First No-Hitter,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, August 15, 1971: B1.

[3] Neal Russo, “Gibson Fires First No-Hitter,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, August 15, 1971: B6.

[4] Wire Services, “Bob Gibson No-Hits Bucs in ‘Best Game,’ Philadelphia Inquirer, August 15, 1971: Section 3, Page 1.

[5] Neal Russo, “Gibson Fires First No-Hitter,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, August 15, 1971: B6.

[6] Neal Russo, “Gibson Fires First No-Hitter,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, August 15, 1971: B1.

[7] Wire Services, “Bob Gibson No-Hits Bucs in ‘Best Game,’ Philadelphia Inquirer, August 15, 1971: Section 3, Page 1.

[8] “Bucs Scared Gibson In 8th,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, August 15, 1971: B1.

[9] “Bucs Scared Gibson In 8th,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, August 15, 1971: B1.

[10] “Bucs Scared Gibson In 8th,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, August 15, 1971: B1.

[11] Neal Russo, “Gibson’s Reward: A Party,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, August 16, 1971: C3.

[12] Neal Russo, “Gibson Fires First No-Hitter,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, August 15, 1971: B6.

[13] Neal Russo, “Gibson Fires First No-Hitter,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, August 15, 1971: B1.

[14] “Bucs Scared Gibson In 8th,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, August 15, 1971: B6.

[15] “Bucs Scared Gibson In 8th,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, August 15, 1971: B1.

[16] Neal Russo, “Gibson Fires First No-Hitter,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, August 15, 1971: B1.

[17] Neal Russo, “Gibson Fires First No-Hitter,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, August 15, 1971: B1.

[18] Neal Russo, “Gibson Fires First No-Hitter,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, August 15, 1971: B6.

April 16, 1978: Bob Forsch throws the most controversial no-hitter in Cardinals history

A misplayed ground ball by third baseman Ken Reitz and a judgment call by St. Louis Post-Dispatch reporter Neal Russo led to the most controversial no-hitter in St. Louis Cardinals history.

In a Sunday afternoon game on April 16, 1978, Bob Forsch worked around two walks and a disputed error call to no-hit the Philadelphia Phillies. It was the Cardinals’ first no-hitter since Bob Gibson achieved the feat in 1971 – even if the Phillies weren’t willing to give him full credit for the performance.

“I think Bob Forsch deserves all the accolades that go with pitching a one-hitter,” Phillies third baseman Mike Schmidt said.[1]

The contentious play led off the eighth inning, as Philadelphia center fielder Garry Maddox hit a ground ball to Reitz’s left. The ball went under Reitz’s glove, and while accounts differed as to whether Reitz got leather on the ball, there was no doubt that the ball skipped past him and into left field.

“I thought the ball was hit a lot harder than it was,” explained Reitz, who won the 1975 National League Gold Glove three years earlier. “I put down my glove, double pumped, and when I came up with the glove the second time, the ball hit the webbing of the glove and went by me. I make that play 99 out of 100 times, but this was the 100th time.”[2]

Maddox was certain the play would be ruled a hit. It wasn’t until he returned to first base and realized that a hit had yet to be posted on the scoreboard that he realized he may not have broken up Forsch’s no-hit bid.

“I thought it was a hit all the way,” he said. “So did (first base coach) Tony Taylor. That was the first thing he told me. And the umpire at first base (Harry Wendelstedt) thought it was a hit, then when I saw they didn’t put it up right away, I said, ‘Uh, oh,’ and figured it was being discussed before they made a decision. I looked up at the press box and saw (Cardinals announcer) Mike Shannon give a thumbs-down sign and I knew they were gonna call it an error.”[3]

It was common at the time for newspaper beat writers to serve as official scorekeepers for the games they covered. In fact, the San Francisco Giants and Atlanta Braves were the only two National League teams that didn’t use local newspaper reporters as scorekeepers that season.[4]

Bill Conlin of the Philadelphia Daily News wrote that Russo briefly discussed the play with Cardinals public relations official Jim Toomey before ruling it an error.[5]

“Very simply, it looked as if he should have fielded the ball,” Russo said. “It was not a routine play, but it was not anything as difficult as some people think it was.”[6]

Phillies third baseman Mike Schmidt, who won the Gold Glove in 1976 and 1977 and would go on to win another of his 10 career Gold Glove awards that season, saw things differently.

“He goes to his left, puts the glove down and it goes through without him ever touching it,” he said. “There’s no way in hell you can give the man an error on a play like that.

“To me, it was just like a line drive to left field. You don’t give the shortstop an error for jumping and missing the liner, do you? You’ve got to follow your guidelines for a hit, and the guideline here has to be whether the guy touches the ball.”[7]

Reitz said that he indeed touched the ball, but Phillies manager Danny Ozark argued that even if Reitz did manage to get leather on the ball, he never could have thrown out the speedy Maddox.

“There’s no question that it was a hit,” he said. “You tell me that if he catches it, he’s going to throw him out?”[8]

Phillies third base coach Billy DeMars had arguably the best vantage point to see the play. Perhaps not surprisingly, he also thought the play should have been ruled a hit.

“Remember, this was Maddox running, not (catcher Bob) Boone,” DeMars said.[9]

Cardinals catcher Ted Simmons came away with the opposite impression.

“The ball was hit right to Reitz, and it wasn’t hit hard,” he said. “The ball wasn’t juiced. It hit off his glove. If it wasn’t an error, I’d say so. That’s the way I am.”[10]

Cardinals manager Vern Rapp agreed, and pitching coach Claude Osteen said, “We were sitting right in line with the play. There was no question in my mind that it was an error. It was not a case of Reitz having to reach for the ball. It went right under his glove. I would have flashed the error button right away. I’d say the same thing if he had pitched a 12-hitter.”[11]

Davey Johnson, a reserve infielder for the Phillies who would go on to a 17-year managerial career, noted that it was the sixth no-hitter he had seen (actually the fifth), and each time the pitcher got some assistance from a friendly ruling from the scorekeeper.

“I suppose he figured that if somebody got a solid hit later, he could always change the error to a hit then,” Johnson said.[12]

Whether Forsch got assistance from the scorekeeper or not, he was entirely willing to admit that a friendly wind helped to keep Schmidt in the ballpark in the first inning.

“I thought (it) was going to hit the Stadium Club,” Forsch said. “I think that’s a home run easy on a normal day here. And he hit the other two good. I don’t know if they would have been homers, but they might have been trouble.”[13]

Nine days earlier, Forsch held the Phillies to one run on five hits in a season-opening 5-1 victory.

“The guy pitched a helluva game, but I don’t think he threw as good as he did in Philly opening day,” Ozark said. “We hit a lot more balls hard today. Schmidt might have had three homers if this game was in August.”[14]

Phillies pitcher Randy Lerch kept the Cardinals off the scoreboard until the fourth inning, when Simmons doubled into the left-field gap and scored on a two-out single by Reitz. Two innings later, pinch hitter Roger Freed hit a bases-loaded double into right field to drive three runs home.

In the eighth, Jerry Morales and Simmons chased Lerch from the game with consecutive singles. Gene Garber entered the game and intentionally walked Keith Hernandez before retiring the next two Cardinals. With two outs, pinch hitter Dane Iorg drew a bases-loaded walk to make the score 5-0.

While Forsch’s teammates avoided him out of respect for the long-standing superstition regarding no-hitters, the right-hander kept ducking into the clubhouse to escape the chilly 41-degree temperature. There, the radio broadcasters unintentionally kept him apprised of how close he was to history.

“They were saying on the radio that no no-hitter had been pitched by a Cardinal in St. Louis in 54 years,” Forsch said.[15]

After Reitz’s error, Forsch escaped the inning, getting Boone to hit into a ground-ball double-play and Ted Sizemore to line out to shortstop Garry Templeton. Forsch retired the side in the ninth on consecutive ground balls. With the final out retired, Simmons engulfed Forsch in a bear hug.

 

“Once the game started, everything seemed to fall in place,” Forsch said. “The ball was moving good. All my pitches were working. Simmons again called a tremendous game. I never shook him off. He knows me better than I know myself.”[16]

Forsch needed just 96 pitches.

“He looked like an accomplished artist out there,” Rapp said. “He had complete control of his pitches and complete poise. In a word, he was sensational.”[17]

Five years later, on September 26, 1983, Forsch recorded the second no-hitter of his career against the Montreal Expos. This time, there were no controversial error calls to cast doubt on the accomplishment.

“A lot of people said that (the first no-hitter) was tainted,” Forsch said after holding the Expos hitless. “This one I don’t think there was any question about.”[18]


[1] Bob McCoy, “Phils Dispute Maddox Ruling, Credit Forsch With One-Hitter,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, April 17, 1978: C4.

[2] Neil Russo, “Forsch Avoids Jinxes, Gets No-Hitter,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, April 17, 1978: C1.

[3] Bill Conlin, “The Forsch Is With Cards,” Philadelphia Daily News, April 17, 1978: Page 68.

[4] “Scorer Explains Ruling On Error,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, April 17, 1978: C4.

[5] Bill Conlin, “The Forsch Is With Cards,” Philadelphia Daily News, April 17, 1978: Page 68.

[6] “Scorer Explains Ruling On Error,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, April 17, 1978: C4.

[7] Bob McCoy, “Phils Dispute Maddox Ruling, Credit Forsch With One-Hitter,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, April 17, 1978: C4.

[8] Bob McCoy, “Phils Dispute Maddox Ruling, Credit Forsch With One-Hitter,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, April 17, 1978: C4.

[9] Bob McCoy, “Phils Dispute Maddox Ruling, Credit Forsch With One-Hitter,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, April 17, 1978: C4.

[10] Neil Russo, “Forsch Avoids Jinxes, Gets No-Hitter,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, April 17, 1978: C4.

[11] Neil Russo, “Forsch Avoids Jinxes, Gets No-Hitter,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, April 17, 1978: C4.

[12] Bob McCoy, “Phils Dispute Maddox Ruling, Credit Forsch With One-Hitter,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, April 17, 1978: C4.

[13] Bill Conlin, “The Forsch Is With Cards,” Philadelphia Daily News, April 17, 1978: Page 68.

[14] Bill Conlin, “The Forsch Is With Cards,” Philadelphia Daily News, April 17, 1978: Page 58.

[15] Neil Russo, “Forsch Avoids Jinxes, Gets No-Hitter,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, April 17, 1978: C4.

[16] Neil Russo, “Forsch Avoids Jinxes, Gets No-Hitter,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, April 17, 1978: C4.

[17] Neil Russo, “Free Breaks Ice: ‘I Know I Can Hit,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, April 17, 1978: C4.

[18] Rick Hummel, “Forsch Hurls His 2nd No-Hitter,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, September 27, 1983: C1.

 

What I’m Reading: “The Memoirs of Bing Devine” by Bing Devine with Tom Wheatley

Through two stints with the St. Louis Cardinals, one with the New York Mets, and another with the St. Louis football Cardinals, Bing Devine has always enjoyed a reputation as one of baseball’s nice guys.

That reputation certainly feels genuinely earned after reading “The Memoirs of Bing Devine: Stealing Lou Brock and Other Winning Moves by a Master GM.” Devine brings a Midwestern charm to the pages, telling engaging, behind-the-scenes stories about the acquisition of Lou Brock; working for August A. Busch and alongside Johnny Keane, Frank Lane, and Branch Rickey; and about players such as Keith Hernandez, Curt Flood, Red Schoendienst, Stan Musial, and Bob Gibson. In between Devine’s memories, friends such as Brock, Schoendienst, Musial, and Whitey Herzog share their impressions of Devine. As Devine himself says, “I can’t think of anyone I didn’t get along with. Even Branch Rickey.”

Devine’s impressions of working for Busch are particularly interesting. He is never anything less than respectful of the man who hired and fired him twice, and seems to feel that Busch simply got bad advice at times. He’s also respectful of Rickey – so much that it’s difficult in reading the book to understand exactly what Rickey was doing to undermine him in 1964, leading to Devine’s firing midway through the 1964 season.

While Devine is too much a gentleman to mention it, his firing angered the ’64 Redbirds, most of whom had been acquired by Devine. Shortly after Devine pulled off one of the great trades in franchise history – Brock for Broglio – Rickey convinced Busch to fire Devine. In Gibson’s autobiography, “Stranger to the Game,” he makes it clear that the Cardinals felt that Devine was treated unfairly by Busch. After the Cardinals won the World Series, Devine, who already had been hired by the New York Mets, won the Executive of the Year Award for the second consecutive year. Three years later, with Rickey out of the picture, Busch and the Cardinals brought Devine back, though he was never able to repeat his success with the Cardinals teams of the ‘70s.

Due to the personalities involved – particularly in the Cardinals’ front office – Devine’s memoirs make for engaging reading. It’s a quick read, and definitely worth the time for fans of the Cardinals’ 1960s teams. Though Devine doesn’t make a big deal of it, he was in the center of many of the Cardinals’ biggest moves of the era, from the acquisition of Brock to the trading away of Steve Carlton. Even though many of the stories are available elsewhere, Devine’s friendly, down-to-earth voice makes this an enjoyable read, and he brings a one-of-a-kind perspective to this era of Cardinals baseball.

 

September 26, 1983: Bob Forsch throws his second no-hitter

Bob Forsch wasn’t looking to make history.

When the 33-year-old right-hander took the Busch Stadium mound on September 26, 1983, he was just looking to salvage a miserable season, both for himself and for the defending world champions.

Heading into their second-to-last home stand of the season, the Cardinals were just 75-81, 11 games behind the National League East-leading Phillies. In terms of the standings, the game meant little. The Cardinals already had been eliminated from postseason contention, but the game did provide an opportunity to avenge a three-game sweep the week prior in which the Expos outscored the Cardinals 19-4.

Forsch took the loss in the final game of that series, allowing three earned runs in 4 1/3 innings. In the aftermath of the Expos’ 10-1 win, the Cardinals left Montreal with bitter feelings toward the Expos in general and Gary Carter in particular after the Expos catcher ceremoniously spiked the ball following a Cardinals strikeout.

“That is uncalled for,” Cardinals pitcher Dave LaPoint said. “We’re losing now, but don’t embarrass us.”[1]

Outfielder Lonnie Smith was even more direct. “I hate Gary Carter,” he said. “He thinks he’s God’s gift to baseball.”[2]

Just as the Cardinals struggled to follow up on the success of 1982, Forsch battled his control all season. Heading into the game, he had walked 53 batters while striking out just 48. As a result, after winning 15 games during the regular season and pitching a complete-game, three-hit shutout in Game 1 of the National League Championship Series against the Braves the year prior, Forsch was just 8-12 with two starts remaining in the 1983 season.

One day earlier, Cardinals manager Whitey Herzog suggested that Forsch consider going to the Florida Instructional League to incorporate a knuckleball into his repertoire.[3]

“I’ve got a good one at 40 feet,” Forsch said. “The trouble is I’ve got to throw it 60 feet. I don’t think I’m ready for that right now.”[4]

It turned out that Forsch’s fastball, slider, and change-up were plenty against the Expos.

Montreal’s only base runner reached in the second inning. After retiring Al Oliver on a ground ball and benefitting from a nice play by center fielder Willie McGee on a fly ball off the bat of Tim Raines, Forsch brushed Carter back twice. When Forsch finally hit Carter with a pitch to the rear, home plate umpire Harry Wendelstedt issued warnings to both dugouts.

The Expos’ next batter, Chris Speier, hit a ground ball that skipped between the legs of Cardinals second baseman Ken Oberkfell for an error.

“It hit off the end of the bat and it had a funky spin to it,” Oberkfell said. “I put the glove down, but it was definitely an error. It’s not the first error I made, but I’m glad it was an error.”[5]

With runners on first and third, Forsch looked to be in trouble. Instead, he struck out Angel Salazar to end the inning, then retired the next 22 batters in order.

“He had good location,” said Oliver, the 1982 National League batting champion. “He pitched me well.”[6]

Expos leadoff hitter Terry Francona agreed. “He placed the ball exactly where he wanted,” he said.[7]

The Cardinals scored all their runs in the fifth inning. David Green led off with a walk. He advanced to second on a fly ball and scored when Ozzie Smith singled up the middle. After Forsch flied out for the second out of the inning, Lonnie Smith doubled to left field, scoring Ozzie Smith. After Oberkfell walked, McGee singled to right to score Lonnie Smith and make it 3-0.

In the sixth, Cincinnati reliever Dan Schatzeder’s first pitch hit Andy Van Slyke on the wrist and then deflected to his chin. Wendelstedt ejected Schatzeder and Montreal manager Vern Rapp.

Other than McGee’s play on Raines in the third and an earlier catch to retire Andre Dawson and end the first, Forsch didn’t require any heroics from the Cardinals’ defense. In the ninth, Forsch caught pinch hitter Terry Crowley looking. Francona was retired on a fly ball to right field, and the game ended when Manny Trillo grounded out to Oberkfell, who was now playing third base.

 

Forsch needed just 96 pitches, 61 of which were strikes. His historic second no-hitter had come before small St. Louis crowd of 12,457[8] that included his wife, Mollie.

“On the other no-hitter, I didn’t get nervous until the seventh inning,” she said. “This one, I started getting nervous in the fifth. The worst thing was the ninth inning. My knees were shaking and I had to stand up to see.”[9]

The Busch Stadium crowd also included Bill Kinsella, who had been invited to the game by St. Louis Post-Dispatch columnist Kevin Horrigan to watch what they believed would be a meaningless late-season baseball game while they talked about writing and baseball.[10] Six years later, Kinsella’s 1982 novel, “Shoeless Joe,” was adapted into a baseball movie classic – “Field of Dreams.”

It was the second career no-hitter for Forsch, who also accomplished the feat in 1978 amidst a controversial error call on a hard-hit ball to Cardinals third baseman Ken Reitz. With his 1983 no-hitter, Forsch became just the ninth pitcher in the modern era to win 20 games in a season, pitch for a World Series champion, and throw two no-hitters, joining Sandy Koufax, Allie Reynolds, Bob Feller, Carl Erskine, Ken Holtzman, Christy Mathewson, Warren Spahn, and Cy Young.[11]

 

After the game, Cardinals equipment manager Buddy Bates placed two bottles of champagne he had been saving for a special occasion in front of Forsch’s locker.[12]

“After I finished the sixth inning, I figured I had a fairly decent chance,” Forsch said. “The crowd, after the seventh inning, really started rooting. They made a big difference. I didn’t think I had quite as good stuff then, but every time I threw a pitch, there was a crowd reaction. I was really relaxed. That kind of thing makes you do more than you’re capable of doing. The adrenaline is really pumping.”[13]

Rapp was the Cardinals’ manager in 1978 when Forsch threw his first no-hitter.

“He may have been a .500 pitcher but he didn’t throw that way tonight,” Rapp said. “The last time, he concentrated on a fastball and slider. He didn’t have much of a change-up. This time he had all three and they complemented each other.”[14]

The win positioned Forsch to reach double-digit wins for the eighth time in nine years. In his final start of the season on October 1, Forsch held the Cubs to two runs over eight innings to finish the season with a 10-12 record.


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[1] Rick Hummel, “Cards Fall From View,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, September 20, 1983: C6.

[2] Rick Hummel, “Cards Fall From View,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, September 20, 1983: C6.

[3] Rick Hummel, “Herzog Would Like Forsch To Work On Knuckleball,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, September 26, 1983: C8.

[4] Kevin Horrigan, “The Great God Baseball Has Its Way Again,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, September 27, 1983: C1.

[5] Rick Hummel, “Forsch Hurls His 2nd No-Hitter,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, September 27, 1983: C6.

[6] Ian McDonald, “Forsch fires no-hitter as Cards bury Expos,” Montreal Gazette, September 27, 1983: C1.

[7] Ian McDonald, “Forsch fires no-hitter as Cards bury Expos,” Montreal Gazette, September 27, 1983: C1.

[8] Ian McDonald, “Forsch fires no-hitter as Cards bury Expos,” Montreal Gazette, September 27, 1983: C1.

[9] Rick Hummel, “Forsch Adds Some Taste To An Unpalatable Season,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, September 27, 1983: C6.

[10] Kevin Horrigan, “The Great God Baseball Has Its Way Again,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, September 27, 1983: C1.

[11] Rick Hummel, “Forsch Hurls His 2nd No-Hitter,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, September 27, 1983: C1.

[12] Rick Hummel, “Forsch Hurls His 2nd No-Hitter,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, September 27, 1983: C6.

[13] Rick Hummel, “Forsch Hurls His 2nd No-Hitter,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, September 27, 1983: C6.

[14] Rick Hummel, “Forsch Hurls His 2nd No-Hitter,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, September 27, 1983: C6.

 

June 25, 1999: Cardinals rookie Jose Jimenez out-duels Randy Johnson with no-hitter

 

On June 25, 1999, Arizona Diamondbacks fans came to Bank One Ballpark looking forward to a match-up between their flame-throwing left-hander, Randy Johnson, and the Cardinals’ record-breaking slugger, Mark McGwire. They indeed got to see something special – they just weren’t expecting it to come from rookie right-hander Jose Jimenez.

With the assistance of two exceptional plays from right fielder Eric Davis, Jimenez joined Paul Dean as just the second rookie in Cardinals history to throw a no-hitter (Dean accomplished the feat in 1934). He also became just the third pitcher from the Dominican Republic to throw one, joining the Giants’ Juan Marichal in 1963 and the Dodgers’ Ramon Martinez in 1995.

“It’s so hard to do,” Cardinals manager Tony La Russa said. “You see guys lose them in the seventh and eighth innings. To actually get one … against one of the top hitting teams in the National League … against Randy Johnson …” La Russa trailed off and shook his head. “It was just a hellacious game.”[1]

Despite facing a Diamondbacks offense that entered the game with a National League-leading .287 batting average, Jimenez only had to work around trouble a few times. After retiring Matt Williams on a ground ball to lead off the second inning, Jimenez walked Steve Finley on five pitches. Two pitches later, he got Travis Lee to hit a ground ball to Mark McGwire for an inning-ending double play.

In the third inning, Jimenez hit Andy Fox with a pitch but worked out of trouble, getting a groundout by Johnson and a strikeout of Tony Womack.

 

In the sixth, Davis made a diving catch to steal a hit from Fox. After the game, he sat on a chair with an ice pack on his left shoulder, an injury that had been bothering him before the game that was aggravated on the play. Had he considered coming out of the game?

“C’mon,” he said with a smile. “It was a no-hitter.”[2]

In the seventh, Luis Gonzalez drew a one-out walk. Once again, Jimenez, who learned his sinker from Class AA pitching coach Rich Folkers, got a ground ball to McGwire to start a 3-6-1 double play to end the inning.

Heading into the ninth, Johnson had matched Jimenez every step of the way. Through eight innings, Johnson had struck out 12 batters, shutting out the Cardinals on just four hits. After striking out Joe McEwing to start the inning, Johnson walked Darren Bragg and McGwire in consecutive at-bats.

Davis struck out on three pitches for the 2,500th strikeout of Johnson’s career, but Thomas Howard worked the count full before breaking his bat on a blooper into left field, sending Bragg home with the winning run.

“I guess the only thing I’m discouraged about is walking two guys back to back,” Johnson said. “I was one pitch away from getting out of the inning. Unfortunately, he puts enough wood on the ball, breaks the bat, and that’s the ballgame.”[3]

It was the only blemish in an otherwise outstanding game for Johnson, who scattered just five hits and two walks while striking out 14. By the time he had thrown 77 pitches, Johnson had already struck out 10 Cardinals.

“I’m not going to lose too much sleep,” he said. “I pitched a pretty good game and we got no-hit.”[4]

In the bottom of the ninth, Jimenez struck out Fox on a 3-2 pitch, then benefitted from a diving, tumbling play by Davis, who grabbed a fly ball to shallow right field off the bat of pinch hitter David Dellucci. As Davis regained his feet and waved his arm, the ball slipped out of his glove, but the umpires correctly ruled the play a catch.

“I thought it would drop in,” Delucci said, “but I played with E.D. in Baltimore for a little bit and I know he’s a great outfielder. Anybody else and it might have been in there.”[5]

 

With Davis’s catch preserving the no-hitter, Jimenez got the final out on a ground ball to second base. McGwire gave the ball back to Jimenez, who kissed it. After the game, he sent it to his mother’s home in San Pedro de Macoris in the Dominican Republic.[6]

It was the first major league complete game for Jimenez, who had lost seven of his previous eight decisions with an 8.04 ERA heading into the game. It also was the first time the Diamondbacks franchise had been no-hit.

“This is something special,” Jimenez said. “I feel great. I feel like I want to fly.”[7]

It was a special day for the other Cardinals who saw Jimenez shut down the first-place Diamondbacks. KMOX broadcaster Mike Shannon, who by then had spent more than 40 years around major league baseball, including three World Series appearances as a player, called it one of the greatest games anyone involved would ever see.[8]

“If the score was 5-0 and a no-hitter, that would have been a good game,” Cardinals outfielder Willie McGee said. “But because it was 1-0, where one play, one run, one misplay could make the difference, that was beautiful.”[9]

“That will have to rank right up there with the best of them ever,” McGwire said.[10]

Jimenez finished the 1999 season with a 5-14 record and 5.85 ERA. In November, the Cardinals traded him, along with Manny Aybar, Brent Butler, and Rich Croushore to the Rockies for Darryl Kile, Dave Veres, and Luther Hackman.

In four seasons with the Rockies, Jimenez was primarily a relief pitcher, going 15-23 with a 4.13 ERA. He played his final major league season with the Indians in 2004.


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[1] Dan Bickley, “Take game for what it was – gem of history,” Arizona Republic, June 26, 1999: C1.

[2] Dan Bickley, “Take game for what it was – gem of history,” Arizona Republic, June 26, 1999: C6.

[3] Richard Obert, “Praise for what’s-his-name,” Arizona Republic, June 26, 1999: C6.

[4] Rick Hummel, “Jimenez gives Arizona nothing,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, June 26, 1999: 4OT.

[5] Richard Obert, “Praise for what’s-his-name,” Arizona Republic, June 26, 1999: C6.

[6] Rick Hummel, “No words for Jimenez’s no-hitter,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, June 27, 1999: F1.

[7] Don Ketchum, “2 diving catches save rookie’s gem,” Arizona Republic, June 26, 1999: C1.

[8] Rick Hummel, “No words for Jimenez’s no-hitter,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, June 27, 1999: F1.

[9] Rick Hummel, “No words for Jimenez’s no-hitter,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, June 27, 1999: F13.

[10] Rick Hummel, “No words for Jimenez’s no-hitter,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch, June 27, 1999: F1.