I knew my body and how long it took for me to get ready to pitch. Dennis "Oil Can" Boyd had already finished warming up in the bullpen and was walking back to the dugout before I threw my first pitch in the bullpen. By the time both anthems were played and he threw his first pitch of the game, I was sitting in the dugout ready to go.
As the game progressed, we took an early lead (1-0). Except for some walks there was nothing but routine plays made behind me. The walks that I had that day (seven) were high but considering that the game was 1-0 until the ninth, I did not give in to the power guys that could hurt me with the long ball. I had four 3-2 pitches to them but just missed on the last pitch. Most of them were with two outs.
It wasn't until after the seventh inning that I realized I hadn't given up a hit. When I did that I immediately thought of the three no-hit bids I had coming up through the Minor Leagues that I lost with two outs and two strikes in the last inning. I said to myself then -- "Take one batter at a time."
The bottom of the ninth I was facing the meat of their order.
The first batter I struck out. One down. The second batter grounded out. Two outs. Then Tim Wallach stepped in the box but before he did a thought went through my mind. I thought of what my pitching coach with the Atlanta Braves (Leo Mazzone) said to me numerous times though the Minor Leagues. "When are you going to finish one of these bleeping games off?" I thought, Leo, this one is for you.
I then told myself I was going straight after Tim. I wasn't getting two strikes again unless he fouled pitches off. Darrin Fletcher put down the sign for a fastball. By then I had thrown probably over 100 fastballs out of the 135 pitches. I agreed with his sign and said to myself "Stay aggressive," and threw the fastball on the outer half of the plate. He swung and hit probably the hardest ball all day but it was a one-hopper right back to me. I gloved it. I couldn't believe it. I was so excited that I ran all but 20 feet over to first base and didn't toss it to Ricky Jordan until I realized he was screaming at me to toss it to him, which I did.
It was over! I finally finished one off! Where it counted the most, in the big leagues!
Tommy Greene pitched eight seasons in the Major Leagues with the Braves, Phillies and Astros. He compiled a 38-25 career record in 119 games (97 starts). He went went 13-7 for the Phillies in 1991 in 36 games (27 starts). This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.