Just a quick note on “ugly” no-hitters

I couldn’t quite fit this into a Tweet, but then I remembered I have a blog…

On Tuesday night, Francisco Liriano of the Twins threw a no-hitter against the White Sox.  It was not only Liriano’s first career no-no, it was his first career shutout and complete game as well.

As no-hitters go, it wasn’t exactly a masterpiece, not that Liriano will care.

I was curious about other “ugly” no-hitters.  I’m defining this particular brand of ugly as walking six or more batters while allowing more free passes than strikeouts.  Since 1919, it appears there have been 10 such no-hitters.  Some of them are noteworthy.

  • A.J. Burnett struck out seven batters in his 2001 no-hitter while walking nine (he also hit a batter), which is the most walks allowed in a nine-inning no-hitter.
  • Dock Ellis walked eight batters, striking out six, in a 1970 no-no that is infamous because Ellis later claimed to have been under the influence of LSD when he threw it.
  • Dwight Gooden walked six (striking out five) when he no-hit the Mariners in 1996.  Naturally, he threw it for the Yankees and not the Mets, like all the other ex-Met pitchers with no-hitters.
  • Edwin Jackson walked eight and struck out five batters in a 149-pitch no-hitter last season while with the Diamondbacks.  He was also the losing pitcher in Liriano’s no-hitter.
  • Johnny Vander Meer is famous for throwing consecutive no-hitters.  The second of the two no-nos was also the first night game ever played at Ebbets Field.  Vander Meer walked the bases loaded in the ninth inning, but got out of it unscored upon and with his no-hitter intact.  In the game, he walked eight while striking out seven.
  • Sam Jones’ 1955 no-hitter for the Cubs included seven walks and six strikeouts.  Jones’ no-no was the first thrown by an African-American pitcher in the major leagues.  He was known as “Toothpick” Sam Jones, and occasionally “Sad” Sam Jones, which can be confusing, because there had already been a prominent major league pitcher known as “Sad” Sam Jones (who also threw a no-hitter).  That Sam Jones was featured in Lawrence Ritter’s classic The Glory of Their Times.
  • Don Black’s 1947 no-hitter for Cleveland (seven walks, six strikeouts) took place before the largest crowd (to that time) to ever see a no-hitter (47,871).  It was the first game of a doubleheader.  Black, who had fought off a serious drinking problem to return to the majors, suffered a cerebral hemorrhage in September 1948 while batting in a game against the St. Louis Browns.  He never pitched again in the majors.
  • Cliff Chambers’ 1951 no-hitter for Pittsburgh included eight walks and four strikeouts.  The following month, the Pirates traded him to the Cardinals in a seven-player deal that included Joe Garagiola.
  • Steve Busby threw two no-hitters in his career.  The first, in 1973, was also the first no-hitter thrown by a Kansas City Royals pitcher.  Busby walked six and had just four strikeouts, the fewest Ks in a no-no that also included 6+ walks until Francisco Liriano’s two-strikeout no-hitter on Tuesday night.
  • Liriano, as mentioned, only struck out two batters.  According to David Schoenfield, the last pitcher to have only two strikeouts (or fewer) in a no-hitter was Jerry Reuss, in 1980.
It’s still a no-hitter, though.  That’s all anyone will remember (barring any suggestions that LSD might have been involved).

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