June No-Hitter Review

LSD and one isn't enough. Let's do it twice.

The No-Hitters don’t seem to be sticking around this month? I wonder what happened?

June 24, 2021, brought us a combined no-hitter by the Cubs. Zach Davies, Ryan Tepera, Andrew Chafin, and Craig Kimbrel against the Dodgers. There were eight walks and an error, but a pickoff and a double play meant the Cubs hurlers only faced 33 batters. Eight walks seems to be a theme in June no-hitters.

Germán Márquez carried a no-hitter and gave the hometown Rockies fans a taste of no-hit ball until the ninth inning on June 29.

 

Perfection

 

Forty-eight other no-nos have taken place in June in the history of baseball. Those games include 45 different pitchers and four perfect games.

Two of those perfectos occurred five days apart. On June 12, 1880, Lee Richmond was perfect against Cleveland. On June 17, 1880, John Ward was perfect against Buffalo. Jim Bunning in 1964 and Matt Cain in 2012 round out the perfect games for June. Richmond’s perfect game was a close one, with a single run deciding the game. Ward, Bunning, and Cain won their perfect games 5-0, 6-0, 10-0 respectively.

 

Facing the Minimum

 

Three other pitches, Cy Young, Sandy Koufax, and Edinson Volquez, pitched no-hitters but only faced 27 batters. On June 30, 1908, Cy Young, playing for the Red Sox, gave up a walk to Harry Nile, the first batter of the game. Niles was retired on a double play. Young led the Red Sox with four runs batted in in the 8-0 victory. On June 4, 1964, Sandy Koufax gave up a two-out walk to Dick Allen in the bottom of the fourth inning. Allen would attempt to steal second and be thrown out. Koufax would get a hit with no runs batted in during the 3-0 victory. Edinson Volquez won his second game of the season on June 3, 2017. Pitching for the Marlins, Volquez struck out 10 Diamondbacks and had both his walks retired with double plays. Volquez also managed one hit in four plate appearances during the 3-0 victory.

 

Working Hard

 

Some pitchers put in extra work for their no-hitters. On June 25, 2010, Edwin Jackson labored through 149 pitches in leading the Diamondbacks to a 1-0 victory over Tampa. He allowed eight walks, hit one batter, and allowed two stolen bases. Three double plays and a caught stealing allowed Jackson to leave nine men on base and kept the Rays 0-for-7 with runners in scoring position.

 

Interesting No-Hit Achievements

 

During the 1981 season Fernando Valenzuela took the league by storm and led the Dodgers to the World Series. Dave Stewart was a relief pitcher on that team. On June 29, 1990, they would both throw no-hitters. Valenzuela was still playing for the Dodgers, with Stewart then playing for the Oakland A’s. It was also the first time two no-hitters had taken place on the same day in both the American and National Leagues.

Chris Heston and Don Wilson notched June no-nos on their fifteenth career games. Jose Jimenez waited until his nineteenth game to help the Cardinals beat Randy Johnson and the Diamondbacks 1-0 on June 25, 1999.

Cy Young’s no-hitter was his 813th career game. Nolan Ryan pitched a no-hitter on June 11, 1990. It was Ryan’s 720th career game. Tom Seaver, pitching for the Reds on June 16, 1978, beat the Cardinals on his 402nd career game.

 

Giants vs. Dodgers: June No-No Edition

 

The Dodgers have record five no-hitters in June. Their earliest was on June 30, 1962, by Mighty Casey Clone Sandy Koufax. On June 4, 1964, Koufax again delivers a no-hitter for the Dodgers. Jerry Reuss would no-hit the Giants on June 17, 1980. The Valenzuela no-hitter was June 29, 1990. In 2014, Clayton Kershaw no-hit the Rockies on June 18. All of them took place when the team was known as the Los Angeles Dodgers. All four pitchers are lefthanders.

Not to be outdone, the San Francisco Giants have four no-hitters in June, starting in 1963 with Juan Marichal. Then in 2012. Matt Cain’s perfect game came in 2012. Tim Lincecum pitched a no-hitter in June of 2014. Chris Heston followed in June of 2015. All the June no-hitters happened after the Giants left New York with all four pitchers being…righthanded!

 

LSD as a PED

 

Pirates pitcher Dock Ellis faced 36 Padres when he tossed his no-hitter in game one of a June 12, 1970 twilight doubleheader. Ellis walked eight, hit one batter, and left nine men on base while keeping the Padres 0-for-6 with runners in scoring position. Dock only struck out six batters leaning on his defense throughout the game. Ellis and his teammates bucked tradition and mentioned the no-hitter during the game. After retiring from baseball in 1979, Ellis got treatment for addiction. He said he usually pitched under the influence of greenies or alcohol.

For his no-hitter, he claims he was high on acid. Ellis said he felt the ball change size during the game. At times, the batters would morph into Richard Nixon. Other times he would be facing down Jimi Hendrix who was, of course, using a guitar for a bat. This game is the most interesting two hours and thirteen minutes of no-hit ball in baseball history. Well, at least from Ellis’s point of view.

 

Let’s Pitch Two!

 

With 48 single-pitcher no-hitters and only 45 pitchers throwing no-hitters in June, some doubled up on the feat. Sandy Koufax and Nolan Ryan both pitched two June no-hitters in their careers. The third pitcher to accomplish the feat did so in the 31st and 32nd games in his career.

Yes, he pitched no-hitters in two consecutive starts!

On June 11, 1938, Cinncinatti pitcher Johnny Vander Meer toed the rubber in front of 5,814 hometown fans at Crosley Field. He struck out four batters, walked three, and hit a batter. The Bees would have a runner picked off while another runner was retired in a double play. The 23-year-old faced 28 Boston Bees in the 3-0 victory, and it took one hour and 45 minutes.

On June 15, 1938, Vander Meer would take the ball at Ebbets Field in front of 38,748 Brooklyn Dodgers fans. He struck out seven batters this time but also gave up eight walks. No double plays, caught stealings, or pickoffs for this game. He left eight men on base and kept the Dodgers 0-for-4 with runners in scoring position. He did get a hit and score a run to contribute to the 6-0 victory in the two-hour and 33-minute contest.

Vander Meer made the All-Star game in 1938 and in 1939, 1942, and 1943. He finished in the top 10 for strikeouts seven times. Leading the National League in 1941, 1942, and 1943. He also finished in the top 10 for walks seven times. He topped the National League in 1943 and 1948. Yep, in 1943 head lead the NL in walks and strikeouts, as well as games started with 36. He finished with and 15-16 record.

His career matched his consecutive no-hitter games. He could be dominant and wild. After he retired, his winning percentage was .496, with 119 wins against 122 losses. But he still remains the only MLB pitcher to toss two consecutive no-hitters. Like Cy Young’s win total, this achievement likely will survive for a very long time.

Baseball-Reference and Retrosheet are my sources for the no-hitter and play-by-play data for no-hitters. Continued thanks to the folks that make that possible!

Mat Kovach

Despite being an Indians fan in the late 70's I grew to love baseball. I started throwing spitballs when I was 10 and have been fascinated with competitive shenanigans in baseball ever since.

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