With his 4-0 whitewash of the Cincinnati Reds in Citizens Bank Park in his first postseason appearance, Phillies right-hander Roy Halladay became the first man to pitch a no-hitter in the regular season and postseason over the course of a career, and he became the fifth player to pitch two no-nos in the same overall season.
Halladay, of course, made big league history by uncorking a perfect game against the Marlins in Miami on May 29, becoming the 20th player in Major League history to throw a perfecto. After Wednesday's no-no, Halladay became the first of this quirky quintet to mix in a gem of the 27-up, 27-down variety.
The four other members of the two no-hitters-in-the-same-season society are well-known for carving their niches in the annals of the game with dramatic aplomb.
The most recent affiliate was, not surprisingly, the pitcher with the most no-hitters in Major League history. Hall of Famer and current Texas Rangers president Nolan Ryan twirled seven no-nos in his epic 27-year career before finally giving his right arm a rest after the 1993 season at the age of 46.
In 1973, as a member of the California Angels, Ryan threw the first no-hitter of his career on May 15 by beating the Royals in Kansas City, 3-0, striking out 12 and walking three along the way. He matched the feat exactly two months later when he blanked the Tigers in Detroit on July 15, striking out 17 batters and walking four.
Twenty-nine strikeouts in 18 no-hit innings shouldn't be surprising for the sport's all time K king -- especially considering 1973 was the year in which the Ryan Express mowed down a still-standing single-season record of 383 strikeoouts, topping Sandy Koufax in the process.
Ryan, whose Rangers beat the Rays on the road earlier Wednesday to take a 1-0 lead in the American League Division Series, was well-aware of the proceedings in the City of Brotherly Love.
"I don't think it gets any bigger than that, unless it was a World Series," Ryan said. "I think it's pretty amazing, He's been on a roll. It's phenomenal, but he's really been on his game. That tells you right there they're going to be tough to beat."
Prior to Ryan's double-feature, you have to go back 21 years to 1952, when Virgil Trucks turned two for the Tigers.
On May 15, while pitching a day game at Briggs Stadium against the Washington Senators for a last-place Detroit club that would end up 50-104, Trucks spun his first bit of magic, although he did some serious sweating along the way.
|2010||Roy Halladay||PHI||5/29, 10/6|
|1973||Nolan Ryan||CAL||5/15, 7/15|
|1952||Virgil Trucks||DET||5/15, 8/25|
|1951||Allie Reynolds||NYY||7/12, 9/28|
|1938||Johnny Vander Meer||CIN||6/11, 6/15|
Turns out that Senators righty Bob Porterfield was practically matching Trucks pitch for pitch, and the game was knotted at zero until there were two out in the bottom of the ninth and Vic Wertz got Trucks on the historical board by hitting a first-pitch walk-off solo home run into the upper deck in right field.
"I immediately jumped up in that small dugout and bumped my head on the ceiling," Trucks told Baseball Digest in 2004. "I didn't draw blood, but I sure saw some stars."
Trucks drew more blood later that year, though, surviving a bit of controversy to nail it down against the eventual World Series champion Yankees, another 1-0 result, in the Bronx on Aug. 25, 1952.
According to Baseball Digest, in the third inning, Yankees shortstop Phil Rizzuto was safe on a close play at first base in which Tigers shortstop Johnny Pesky fielded a grounder but couldn't get the ball out of his glove in time. It was originally ruled an error, but changed to a hit by official scorer John Drebinger of the New York Times.
But after reporters needled Drebinger to change the ruling, Drebinger phoned Pesky in the dugout and Pesky copped to the error, claiming he should have gotten the out.
"The thing that really bothered me about that play is that Rizzuto was really out at first," Trucks told the magazine. "We were all arguing with the first-base umpire, and I nearly got tossed from the game."
One year before Trucks rolled over the opposition for two historic games, the "Chief" was calling the shots in two no-hitters for the Yankees.
Allie "Chief" Reynolds was on his game all year in '51, his best single season -- at the age of 35. He notched 20 wins for the only time in his career, putting up a career-best 2.06 ERA, and leading the Yankees' staff en route to another World Series title.
On July 12 of that year against Cleveland, he sparkled through a scoreless tie against his former Indians teammate and roommate, future Hall of Famer Bob Feller, until Gene Woodling's seventh-inning homer gave the Yankees the only run they'd need. Reynolds retired the last 17 batters he faced and struck out Bobby Avila to seal the no-no.
Reynolds waited until his last start of the year on Sept. 28 to strike again, and he did it in fine fashion again, beating the Red Sox at Yankee Stadium, 8-0, to clinch the pennant.
There was only one potential problem keeping him from pulling the double no-no, and that problem was named Ted Williams and strode to the plate with two out in the ninth.
"I was very much aware of the no-hitter in the ninth inning," Reynolds told author Harvey Frommer. "All I had to get out was Ted Williams. Most times I tried to walk the damn guy. In my opinion it was just stupid to let an outstanding hitter like him beat you."
Fortunately for Reynolds and the Yankees, Williams popped out to catcher Yogi Berra to seal it.
But long before Halladay's accomplishment and before the stunning work turned in twice in a year by Ryan, Trucks and Reynolds, was Johnny Vander Meer, who conjured a feat that might never be duplicated as long as baseball is played.
Yes, that Johnny Vander Meer. The guy who threw two no-hitters in a row.
As unbelievable as it sounds, it happened, in the consecutive starts of June 11 and June 15 in 1938, courtesy of a 24-year-old Cincinnati Reds left-hander with spotty control in the midst of his first full season in the Major Leagues.
Vander Meer kept the ball in the strike zone, for the most part, over the course of those 18 unforgettable innings. He fired his first no-no at home against the Boston Braves, striking out four and walking three.
Taking his normal turn four days later in Ebbets Field against the Brooklyn Dodgers, Vander Meer walked eight batters -- including three free passes that loaded the bases in the ninth -- but also struck out seven. He also didn't give up a hit.
Vander Meer never matched anything close to that success for the rest of his 13-year career and admitted in 1939 that he wasn't exactly ready for the instant fame that came along with his freakish feat.
"All the publicity, the attention, the interviews, the photographs, were too much for me," he told The Associated Press.
It remains to be seen what will happen to Halladay, who seemed as calm and reserved as ever while basking in the limelight of no-hitter No. 2 and postseason victory No. 1.
"I think right now it's easy to keep your focus on the team, especially at this point in the season knowing we need a couple more wins here to move on," Halladay said. "It's easier for me to keep that focus, I think, than to kind of analyze where those things stack up [in history]. I think that's something you do later."
As for the Reds, manager Dusty Baker said he would take Thursday's off-day to hope for a natural return to normalcy after one milestone of a loss.
"One thing's for sure," Baker said. "We're due to get a lot of hits after this game."
Doug Miller is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.