In 1962, the National League welcomed two new teams: The Houston Colt .45s and the New York Mets. Before Houston changed its nickname to the Astros, the franchise had already notched its first no-hitter, and it occurred 49 years ago today on May 17, 1963.
Don Nottebart earned the honor, striking out eight and walking three during a 4-1 win over the Philadelphia Phillies. The Phillies scored an unearned run in the fifth inning on a two-base error, sacrifice bunt and sacrifice fly.
Colt .45s catcher John Bateman, the Houston Chronicle reported, didn’t realize it was a no-hitter until he looked up at the scoreboard as he stepped behind the plate for the ninth inning.
“He had been so cool all night,” Nottebart told the newspaper. “And I could see in the ninth that he suddenly got real nervous; he kept giving me the sign and then shaking his head and giving it over.”
Nottebart’s no-hitter is one of 10 in Houston Colt .45s/Astros history. Here are a few more interesting Astro no-no tidbits:
- Houston had already notched four no-nos before the Mets won their first World Series championship in 1969. The Astros still have yet to accomplish that feat, reaching the fall classic in 2005 but losing to the Chicago White Sox.
- On April 23, 1964, Houston’s Ken Johnson became the only Major League pitcher to lose a complete-game no-hitter in nine innings during a 1-0 loss to the Cincinnati Reds. The game was scoreless with one out in the ninth when Pete Rose tried to bunt his way on and reached second on a Johnson throwing error. After advancing to third on a ground out, Rose scored when Nellie Fox bobbled a ball hit by Vada Pinson.
- Nolan Ryan threw just one of his Major League record seven no-hitters while in an Astros uniform, but his No. 5 helped him surpass Sandy Koufax as the all-time no-no great. Later in his career, Ryan added two more to the record as a Texas Ranger.
- Former Met Mike Scott’s no-hitter captured the National League West division championship for the Astros to set up a Mets-Astros NLCS. Scott did his best to keep the Mets from reaching the World Series, throwing two complete game wins in the NLCS. Fortunately for Mets fans, Scott didn’t pitch in Game 6, a 16-inning thriller that sent the Mets to their third World Series.
- Darryl Kile’s no-hitter was against the Mets on September 8, 1993. Kile struck out nine while walking one in the game. He had retired the first 10 Mets batters, but the Mets got a run in the fourth thanks to a walk followed by an Astros defensive breakdown. After walking Jeff McKnight, Kile threw a wild pitch that catcher Scott Servais thought hit Joe Orsulak on the foot. It didn’t, and as McKnight ran to third, first baseman Jeff Bagwell grabbed the ball and threw it off-line, allowing McKnight to score. Astros 7, Mets 1.