No-hitters … after they left the Mets

Ryan's circle of no-no hats in the Hall.

Ryan's circle of no-no hats in the Hall.

Nolan Ryan pitched seven no-hitters during his Hall of Fame career, but they all came after he was traded by the New York Mets. And Tom Seaver finally got his sole no-hitter as a Cincinnati Red during his first season away from the Mets. In fact, seven former Mets pitched no-hitters after leaving New York. Mike Scott (Houston Astros), Dwight Gooden (New York Yankees) David Cone (Yankees), Hideo Nomo (Boston Red Sox) and Philip Humber (Chicago White Sox) round out the list.

Two others get “honorable mentions: below: Jim Bibby (in Mets organization before throwing no-no but never appeared in Mets game) and
Alejandro Pena (participated in a three-pitcher no-hitter in 1991 as a Brave).

Nolan Ryan

My Nolan Ryan baseball cardNolan Ryan signed a contract with the New York Mets organization in 1965 and pitched with the parent club from 1966 to 1971. As a reliever in 1969, Ryan helped the Mets win the team’s first World Series title, but he never really succeeded in New York as a starter. He went 7-11 with a 3.53 ERA in 1970 and 10-14 with a 3.42 ERA in 1971.

So on Dec. 10, 1971, the Mets sent Ryan (and three others: pitcher Don Rose, catcher Francisco Estrada and outfielder Leroy Stanton) to the California Angels in a trade for infielder Jim Fregosi. Turns out the Angels got the better of that deal. Ryan was 19-16 the next year with a 2.28 ERA, and he went on to throw seven no-hitters during his Hall of Fame career:

  • May 15, 1973 – California Angles 3, Kansas City Royals 0 in Kansas City
  • June 15, 1973 – California Angels 6, Detroit Tigers 0 in Detroit
  • Sept. 28, 1974 – California Angels 4, Minnesota Twins 0 in California
  • June 1, 1975 – California Angels 1 Baltimore Orioles 0 in California
  • Sept. 26, 1981 – Houston Astros 5 Los Angeles Dodgers 0 in Houston
  • June 11, 1990 – Texas Rangers 5 Oakland A’s 0 in Oakland
  • May 1, 1991 – Texas Rangers 3 Toronto Blue Jays 0 in Texas

Tom Seaver

My Tom Seaver baseball cardGeorge Thomas Seaver is the only Mets player to have his number retired (Gil Hodges and Casey Stengel had their numbers retired as managers), and there’s a good reason why no Met will ever again wear number 41 on his back. “Tom Terrific,” who pitched for the Mets from 1967 to 1977 and again in 1983, won 183 games as a Met, picking up Rookie of the Year honors in 1967 and Cy Young Awards in 1969, 1973 and 1975.

Seaver topped 20 wins in four of Mets seasons, but he was never able to throw a no-no. He did throw five one-hitters for the Mets, including two broken up in the ninth inning. In another game, he lost a no-hitter in the ninth, and that game wound up being an extra-inning three-hitter:

  • July 9, 1969 – Mets 4, Chicago Cubs 0 – ninth-inning, one-out single by Jimmy Qualls. Seaver was working on a perfect game through 8 1/3. “A clean hit to left-center-field, and there goes the perfect game,” a matter-of-fact Ralph Kiner declared on-air. The 59,000 fans that packed Shea Stadium that night stood and gave Tom Terrific an ovation as Seaver put his hands on his hips and stared from the mound at the spot where the ball touched green.
  • July 4, 1972 – Mets 2, San Diego Padres 0 – ninth-inning, one-out single by Leron Lee
  • Sept. 24, 1975 – Mets 2, Chicago Cubs 0 – two-out, ninth-inning single by Joe Wallis (Seaver gave up two more hits in the 10th)

I don’t remember exactly where I was on June 15, 1977, but I remember being pretty pissed off. It was on that day that the Mets dealt Seaver to the Cincinnati Reds for Pat Zachry, Doug Flynn, Steve Henderson, and Dan Norman. A year and one day later Seaver would get his elusive no-hitter.

  • June 16, 1978 – Cincinnati Reds 4, St. Louis Cardinals 0 at Cincinnati

Considering that Seaver returned to the Mets for the 1983 season, he could also be put into the “No-hitters … after they returned to the Mets” club, but we’re not going to devote a whole page to that.

Mike Scott

My Mike Scott baseball cardThe Mets selected Mike Scott in the second round of the 1976 draft, and he pitched for the team from 1979 to 1982, posting a 14-27 record. The Mets traded him to the Houston Astros for utility player Danny Heep after the 1982 season.

The Mets weren’t exactly a model franchise in the early 1980s, and Scott has been quoted saying he didn’t have any mentors with the Mets and a change of scenery was probably needed. His career finally began to take off in 1985 when he started working with Hall of Famer Roger Craig.

It was in 1986, a season in which Scott won a Cy Young, when he would get his no-hitter:

  • September 25, 1986 – Houston Astros 2, San Francisco Giants 0 in Houston (Scott struck out 13 and walked just two)

More importantly, it was that game that captured the National League West division championship for the Astros to set up a Mets-Astros NLCS featuring what many believe to be the most exciting game ever (I’d have to agree).

In fact 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.

In that game, the Mets were trailing 3-0 in the ninth, and if it went to game seven, they surely would have had to face Mike Scott again. Fortunately, they tied the game, and it remained 3-3 until the 14th, when both teams scored a single run. The Mets took what seemed to be an insurmountable 7-4 lead in the 16th, but the Astros chipped away to 7-6 and put the winning run on base. Jesse Orosco was able to strike out Kevin Bass, and four hours, 42 minutes later, the Mets were World Series bound.

Dwight Gooden

My Dwight Gooden baseball cardDwight Gooden, who pitched for the Mets from 1984 to 1994, had one of the best seasons ever for a Mets pitcher in 1985 when he went 24-4 with a league-leading 1.53 ERA. In 1986, his 17-6 record with a 2.84 ERA helped the team clinch the N.L. East, eventually reaching and win the World Series.

Gooden never threw a no-hitter for the Mets, but he did pitch one one-hitter – a 10-0 shutout on Sept. 7, 1984 against the Chicago Cubs. Keith Moreland’s single in the fifth was the Cubs only hit.

It was in 1996 when Gooden was nearing the end of his career that he finally got a no-hitter. To the horror of countless Mets fans, the feat occurred across town in the Bronx when Gooden was a member of the New York Yankees:

  • May 14, 1996 – New York Yankees 2, Seattle Mariners 0 at Yankee Stadium

David Cone

My David Cone baseball cardDavid Cone played for the Mets from 1987 to 1992, notching his best season in 1988 with a 20-3 record and a 2.22 ERA.

The Mets traded Cone to the Toronto Blue Jays for Jeff Kent in 1992, forcing numerous Mets fans to return their Conehead caps to Halloween costume boxes in their garages. Like Gooden, Cone would get his no-hitter – a rare perfect game to be more precise – with the bad guys across town at Yankee Stadium:

  • July 18, 1999 – New York Yankees 6, Montreal Expos 0 in the Bronx

It was Yogi Berra Day at Yankee Stadium on July 18, and Don Larsen – the only pitcher to ever throw a World Series perfect game – had thrown out the game’s ceremonial first pitch.

Cone’s retiring of the minimum 27 batters was interrupted by a half-hour rain delay after the third inning, but Cone kept sending Expos back to the dugout for the Yankees’ second perfect game in as many years.

For the record, three pitchers who have worn Mets uniforms – Cone, Kenny Rogers and Philip Humber – have thrown perfect games. And the Philadelphia Phillies’ Jim Bunning pitched a Father’s Day perfecto against the Mets on June 21, 1964 – Not exactly a good Father’s Day present for my Dad, who was at Shea Stadium for that contest.

Hideo Nomo

My Hideo Nomo baseball cardHideo Nomo, who pitched for the New York Mets in 1998, holds the distinction of being the only player to pitch no-hitters both before and after his time with the Mets. He wasn’t with the Mets long, pitching just 17 games during the 1998 season and posting a 4-5 record and 4.82 ERA.

Here are Nomo’s no-nos:

  • Aug. 17, 1996 – Los Angeles Dodgers 9, Colorado Rockies 0 in Colorado
  • April 4, 2001 – Boston Red Sox 3, Baltimore Orioles 0 in Baltimore

Philip Humber

My Philip Humber baseball card
Philip Humber, the Mets’ first-round draft in 2004, made his first Major League start in September 2007 against the Washington Nationals. He was traded to the Minnesota Twins in the Johan Santana deal, but his next Major League start wasn’t until August 2010 as a Kansas City Royal. His no-no came as a perfect game …

  • April 21, 2012 – Chicago White Sox 4, Seattle Mariners 0 at Safeco Field in Seattle

… but 27 consecutive outs almost weren’t enough. Humber won the game on a strikeout of pinch hitter Brendan Ryan, but it required a 2-3 putout to put the game in the books. Humber’s low-and-outside pitch got away from catcher A.J. Pierzynski, and Ryan paused to argue the call with home plate umpirer Paul Runge before running to first base. Pierzynski threw the ball to first and Humber had his perfecto.

Two others get honorable mentions but don’t make the list on techicalities:

Honorable mentions

Jim Bibby, who threw a no-no in 1973 as a Texas Ranger, was signed by the Mets in 1965 and was with the organization through 1971. He was called up to the parent club twice, but never appeared in a New York Mets game. He did throw for minor league clubs in Marion, Raleigh-Durham, Memphis and Tidewater. His no-no was July 30, 1973, Texas Rangers 6, Oakland Athletics 0.

Alejandro Pena: began the 1991 season as a New York Met but was traded to the Atlanta Braves on Aug. 28 of that year for Tony Castillo and Joe Roa. Less than a month later – on Sept. 11, 1991 – Pena finished out a three-pitcher no-hitter for the Braves that was started by Kent Mercker (6 innings) and Mark Wohlers (2 innings). The Braves beat the San Diego Padres 1-0.