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The Right Combination

June 23, 2012

Hugh Atkins

My pal James Rose sent me a message on facebook wondering if we have seen enough combined no-hitters in the history of baseball for the subject to earn its way into Cheap Hill 44.

When six Seattle Mariners pitchers combined to no-hit the Los Angeles Dodgers on June 8, it marked the 10th time in major league history that pitchers have teamed up on a no-hitter. Kevin Millwood started the game and pitched the first six innings before an injury forced him from the mound.

Charlie Furbush pitched 2/3 of an inning, Stephen Pryor and Lucas Luetge each chipped in a third of an inning, Brandon League pitched 2/3 of an inning and Tom Wilhelmsen pitched the final inning. Pryor earned his first career win.

The six pitchers matched the record for the most combining on a no-hitter; six Houston Astros–Roy Oswalt, Pete Munro, Kirk Saarloos, Brad Lidge, Octavio Dotel and Billy Wagner–teamed up against the New York Yankees on June 11, 2003.

The first, and most unusual, combined no-hitter occurred 95 years ago today and involved the man who would become the game’s most famous player. Babe Ruth, then of the Boston Red Sox, combined with Ernie Shore on a no-hitter against the Washington Senators on June 23, 1917.

Ruth actually contributed very little to the effort. He walked leadoff batter Ray Morgan and then got into an argument with plate umpire Brick Owens. Owens ejected Ruth and Shore came into the game. Morgan was thrown out attempting to steal and Shore then retired the next 26 batters in order.

© T.C.G.

It would be almost 50 years before the next combined no-hitter. Steve Barber (8 2/3) and Stu Miller (1/3) of the Baltimore Orioles teamed up to no-hit the Detroit Tigers on April 30, 1967.

Vida Blue (5), Glenn Abbott (1), Paul Lindblad (1) and Rollie Fingers (2) of the Oakland Athletics ganged up for a no-hitter against the California Angels on September 28, 1975, the final day of the regular season.

Blue Moon Odom (5) and Francisco Barrios (4) no-hit the Athletics on July 28, 1976. The Athletics were the first team to be involved in more than one combined no-hitter.

Mark Langston (7) and Mike Witt (2) of the Angels combined to no-hit the Mariners on April 11, 1990.

Bob Milacki (6), Mike Flanagan (1), Mark Williamson (1) and Gregg Olson (1) of the Orioles no-hit the Athletics on July 13, 1991. The Orioles are the only team with two combined no-hitters while Oakland was the first team to find themselves on the losing end of two combined no-hitters.

Kent Mercker (6), Mark Wohlers (2) and Alejandro Peña of the Atlanta Braves pitched the first combined no-hitter in National League history on September 11, 1991 against the Dodgers. With their loss to the Mariners in the most recent combined no-hitter, the Dodgers are the second team to lose two combined no-hitters.

Francisco Cordova (9) and Ricardo Rincon (1) of the Pittsburgh Pirates pitched the only extra-inning combined no-hitter; it came against the Astros on July 12, 1997.

Four pitchers have pitched in a combined no-hitter and also pitched a complete game no-hitter of their own.

Blue pitched a no-hitter for the Athletics against the Minnesota Twins on September 21, 1970. Mercker pitched a no-hitter for the Braves against the Dodgers on April 8, 1994. Millwood pitched a no-hitter for the Philadelphia Phillies against the San Francisco Giants on April 27, 2003. Millwood is the only pitcher to throw a no-hitter for one team and combine on a no-hitter for another team.

Witt of the Angels pitched a perfect game against the Texas Rangers on September 30, 1984, the final game of the season. He is the only pitcher to pitch a complete game no-hitter and also finish a combined no-hitter in relief.

Pinch Thomas and Sam Agnes of the Red Sox were the first catches to split a combined no-hitter. Thomas was tossed from the game at the same time Ruth was, so Agnew had to come in and catch nine innings.

© T.C.G.

Catchers Gene Tenace (6) and Ray Fosse (3) of the Athletics both worked Oakland’s combined no-hitter in 1975. Tenace was behind the plate for all of Blue’s innings and he also caught Blue’s complete game no-hitter in 1970.

Bill Heath (7 2/3) and Gene Oliver (1 1/3) of the Chicago Cubs are the only catchers to split duties on a complete game no-hitter. They were behind the plate on August 19, 1969 for Ken Holtzman’s first no-hitter.

So, James, the answer to your question must be yes. Thanks for the suggestion and tell your dad I said, “Hey.”

3 Comments leave one →
  1. R. Dale McCarver permalink
    June 23, 2012 6:36 am

    Thanks for an interesting column. Never heard the Ruth story. I have a suggestion for a column. You obviously have access to a wealth of info about the game. I’d like to hear your suggestions for books/sources about baseball info/stats/history. Of course, your mom is the most knowledgeable baseball authority… But if I wanted to start a small library of baseball knowledge, which books would you recommend?


    • June 23, 2012 11:17 pm

      That would make for an interesting column. For finding details about particular games, I use They are meticulous in their research and have box scores going back to around 1900 and they inning-by-inning recaps of games going back to the 30s and 20s. For stats and lists of feats and accomplishments I use and Baseball reference books are increasingly difficult to find; everything’s going electronic. The column I posted on the demise of Street & Smith’s Baseball Yearbook still gets several hits a day. Apparently my post is the only place that reported it was no longer published (I verified by calling the publisher). Over the past few years there have been several great biographies that supply lots of details about the entire game from the time when the feature player was active. Aaron, Ruth, Mays, Mantle, Maris, Musial, T. Williams, Gehrig, J. Robinson, Clemente, Cobb all have fairly recent biographies that are so much better than the PR-type bios from our youth. Hey, I’m halfway to a column right here. Thanks for the suggestion and the comments.


    • P. C. Atkins permalink
      June 24, 2012 3:33 pm

      Dale, I beg to differ……………..Hugh and Sean both much more up on baseball info than me, I love it as much as they do tho but I’m no authority!


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