We are already past the halfway point of April and two no-hitters have already been thrown. The Padres’ Joe Musgrove took 112 pitches to hold Texas hitless, while Carlos Rodon needed 114 pitches to no-hit the Cleveland Nine. One of the pitches found the toe of batter 26, keeping his no-hitter from being the third April perfect game.
April no-hitters are interesting to me because I attended one. Well, not really. It wasn’t technically a no-hitter since, after the 1991 season, they changed the definition of no-hitters a bit. The major leagues’ committee for statistical accuracy changed some things, including the fact that a pitcher in a no-hitter must go nine innings and eliminating 50 previous no-hitters.
On Sunday, April 12, 1992, my Physics Lab assistant invited me to a Cleveland doubleheader at Municipal Stadium. Roger Clemens was pitching the second game and Matt Young was pitching the first game. Fun Fact: my Lab assistant’s name was also… Matt Young.
Matt Young struck out 6, but walked 7 in giving up two earned runs. He didn’t pitch the ninth inning because the Indians were up 2-1 to start the ninth. Roger Clemens would blank Cleveland 3-0 on two hits in the backend of the twin bill. Two hits over a doubleheader is a record of futility that Cleveland still holds.
April No-Hitter By the Numbers
So, Let’s dive into the no-hitters and perfect games that occurred in April. There is a loss for an April no-hitter and this one just happens to count!
I am using the No-Hitter page from the fine, smart, and devastatingly charming folks at Baseball Reference as my list of no-hitters. Their list includes the 2021 no-hitters, bringing the total to 295. I am also not talking about the combined no-hitters.
Of the 295 no-hitters, 38 have happened in April for about 13%
April no-hitters are a pretty standard occurrence. While there have never been more than two no-hitters in any one April, it is a fairly common experience.
A No-Hit Loss
On April 23, 1964, Houston’s Ken Johnson held Cincinnati hitless, struck out 9, and only walked two batters. But a Johnson error in the top of the ninth on a Pete Rose bunt allowed Rose to get to second base. A second error then allowed Rose to score later in the inning. But according to the Retrosheet Box Score (https://www.retrosheet.org/boxesetc/1964/B04230HOU1964.htm), the bottom of the ninth wasn’t without fireworks:
COLT .45S 9TH: KEOUGH STAYED IN GAME (PLAYING CF); Kasko struck out; Fox grounded out (shortstop to first); Colts coach Adair ejected by 1B umpire Landes for Arguing that Fox was safe at 1st; Runnels reached on an error by Johnson; Runnels called out by 1B umpire Landes, but call was reversed by plate umpire Donatelli; Reds played remainder of game under protest which was dropped they won game; LILLIS RAN FOR RUNNELS; Weekly was called out on strikes; 0 R, 0 H, 1 E, 1 LOB. Reds 1, Colt .45s 0.
If somehow the Colt .45s would have managed to score, it would have been a ninth inning come from behind, no-hitter victory?!?!
More April No-Hitter Tidbits
If you are looking for perfection, Phil Humber in 2012 and Charlie Robertson in 1920 upgraded their no-hitters to perfect games. The only perfect games in April.
Cleveland’s Addie Jose would throw his second no-hitter on April 24, 1910. His first no-no was a perfect game. He would die on April 14, 1911, less than a year after this no-hitter. If you are looking for an interesting pitcher to learn about, Addie was an amazing person. In the off-season, he was a sports journalist and engineer.
Sticking with Cleveland. Bob Feller threw three no-hitters in his career. On April 16, 1940, he threw his first no-hitter on Opening Day. He waited for the tenth game of the season in 1946, April 30 to be exact, to no-hit the Yankees. Both were away starts.
Team-wise, Chicago has the most April no-hitters with five. Cleveland is close with four. City-wise, the teams from Chicago combine for seven April no-hitters.
On April 24, 1915, Frank Allen, pitcher for the Pittsburgh Rebels of the Federal League, pitched his no-hitter on two days’ rest. He came on to pitch the last two innings on a game on April 22, earning the win.
On April 16, 1972, Burt Hooten’s no-hitter was his fourth career game. Charlie Robertson’s 1922 perfect game? It was his fifth career game. Warren Spahn’s April 28th no-hitter was his 574th career game.
We are lacking a lot of information about pitch counts but we do know that Phil Humber’s perfecto on April 21, 2012 only took 96 pitches. On April 8, 1994, Kent Mercker threw 131 pitches for his no-hitter.
Jim Maloney, on April 20, 1964, struck on 13 in his no-hitter. Ed Head struck out one batter when he held the Boston Braves hitless on April 23, 1946.
Burt Hooten issued seven walks in his no-no while Steve Busby, Ubaldo Jimenez, and Jack Morris issued six walks in their April no-hitters.
Robertson and Humber’s perfect game lacked walks, but so did Rodon’s and Musgrove’s. They have the only two April non-perfect no-hitters that don’t include walks. HBP pitches were the only flaws on their no-hitters.
In 1917, George Modridge bested Dutch Leonard 2-1 on his April 24 no-hitter. Modridge’s run was unearned due to three base on balls and three errors by the Yankees.
Warren Spahn and Mark Buerhle, along with our perfect time duo, only faced the minimum of 27 batters for their games. Spahn had both his walks erased with double plays. On April 18, 2007, Mark Buerhle walked Sammy Sosa in the fifth inning but picked him off at first. Imperfect, perfects games.
Bob Feller faced 33 batters in his Opening Day no-hitter. Five walks and an error will get you six extra batting attempts. Bob Feller has the same problem in his 1946 no-hitter. Again five walks, no errors this time, giving him 32 batters faced for his other April no-hitter. Feller, apparently, really liked to work for his no-nos. My estimation is that he threw about 140+ pitches for both these games.
In 1915, Frank Allen won is an April no-hitter 16-0. The Cleveland hurlers, Feller, and Joss won all their April no-hitters 1-0. Kevin Millwood’s 2003 April no-hitter was was a 1-0 affair, as was Warren Spahn’s.
With two April no-hitters in the books for 2021, both ruined by hit-by-pitches, it should be interesting to see how the remaining no-hitters for 2021 stack up against history.
Now, am I am not kidding, GO LEARN ABOUT ADDIE JOSS! Really. You’ll be better for it. There will be a quiz in the next Monday Newsletter.
Photos by Jeff Zelevansky & Daniel Gluskoter/Icon Sportswire | Design by Michael Packard (@designsbypack on Twitter @ IG)