No-hitters … before they joined the Mets

Cardwell's and Spahn's no-no balls at the Hall.

Cardwell's and Spahn's no-no balls at the Hall.

Ten pitchers who eventually played for the New York Mets threw no-hitters with one of their previous clubs. This elite crew includes Don Cardwell (Chicago Cubs), Warren Spahn (Milwaukee Braves), Dean Chance (Minnesota Twins), Dock Ellis (Pittsburgh Pirates), John Candelaria (Pittsburgh Pirates), Bret Saberhagen (Kansas City Royals), Al Leiter (Florida Marlins), Scott Erickson (Minnesota Twins), Kenny Rogers (Texas Rangers) and Hideo Nomo (Los Angeles Dodgers).

Billy Wagner (Houston Astros) and Ricardo Rincon (Pittsburgh Pirates) get “honorable mentions” for throwing single innings of no-hit ball during multiple-pitcher no-nos before joining the Mets.

Don Cardwell

My Don Cardwell baseball card

  • No-Hitter – May 15, 1960 – Chicago Cubs 4, St. Louis Cardinals 0 in Chicago

Don Cardwell, may have been in the latter part of his career when he joined the New York Mets in 1967, but he played a key part in guiding them to a World Series title in 1969. Cardwell, with the Mets from 1967 to 1970, had started the ’69 season 3-9, but he won his next five games down the stretch to help the Mets overtake the Chicago Cubs for the National League East crown.

Nine years before that, while pitching for the Chicago Cubs, Cardwell pitched a no-hitter against the St. Louis Cardinals. Cardwell died Jan. 14, 2008 at the age of 72.

Warren Spahn

My Warren Spahn baseball card

  • No-Hitter – Aug. 16, 1960 – Milwaukee Braves 4, Philadelphia Phillies 0 in Milwaukee
  • No-Hitter – April 28, 1961 – Milwaukee Braves 1, San Francisco Giants 0 in Milwaukee

Hall of Famer Warren Spahn won 363 games during his Major League career, most with the Boston/Milwaukee Braves. Unfortunately when he came to the Mets in 1965 as a pitcher and pitching coach, he didn’t have much gas left in the tank. Spahn, 44 in 1965, appeared in 20 games for the Mets, going 4-12 with a 4.36 ERA. After the team released Spahn in July, the San Francisco Giants picked him up and he finished out the last year of his career there.

Spahn’s no-hitter against the Phillies was impressive. He struck out 15 and walked just two during the 4-0 victory. In his second no-no against the Giants, he struck out five and walked two.

Dean Chance

My Dean Chance baseball card

  • No-Hitter – Aug. 25, 1967 – Minnesota Twins 2, Cleveland Indians 1 at Cleveland

Although the record books won’t admit it, Dean Chance’s no-hitter on Aug. 25, 1967 was actually his second that month! Just 19 days earlier, Chance yielded no hits while pitching the Twins to a rain-shortened 2-0 win against the Boston Red Sox.

Major League Baseball statiticians don’t recognize anything less than 9 innings, so Chance is only credited his no-no against the Indians, which came during Game 2 of a twi-night doubleheader. Oddly enough, he actually gave up a first-inning run in the game. Chance walked the first two batters he faced and a Caser Tovar error loaded the bases. Chance then threw a wild pitch, allowing Lee Maye to score.

Chance’s tenure with the Mets in 1970 lasted just three games, and he was 0-2 with a 13.50 ERA.

Dock Ellis

My Dock Ellis baseball card

  • No-Hitter – June 12, 1970 – Pittsburgh Pirates 2, San Diego Padres 0 in San Diego

What’s unique about Dock Ellis’ 1970 Pittsburgh Pirates no-hitter against the San Diego Padres? How about that it was likely the only hitless game thrown by a player tripping on acid.

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