Sunday, January 16, 2011

(Hi)Stories from my Topps Million Card Collection

Ken Johnson made major league history in a bittersweet fashion, becoming the first pitcher to ever throw a no-hitter and lose. Joe Nuxhall was pitching brilliantly for the Reds, and kept the game tied at 0-0 through eight inning. With one out in the 9th, Pete Rose tried to bunt for a base hit and reached second when Johnson made a bad throw to first. After Rose advanced to third on a ground out, second baseman Nellie Fox bobbled an easy grounder allowing Rose to score. Nuxhall pitched a scoreless ninth to give the Reds an historic 1-0 victory.

The big, easy-going, 230-pounder was told he had become the first pitcher in the annals of baseball to pitch a nine-inning no-hitter and lose.

Ken Johnson’s face broke open with a smile and he said, “Say, I guess that will put me in baseball history? What a way to get in the book.”

The Houston Colt .45s had just managed to lose to the Cincinnati Reds, 1-0, Thursday night in a game that was maddeningly frustrating to the 5426 customers who saw the 30-year-old right-hander in an artful demonstration of pitching skill.

It took a pair of errors in the ninth inning, one of them by Johnson, to get Cincinnati’s run. Meanwhile, the Colts were blowing every opportunity they had on the bases, partially because left-hander Joe Nuxhall was doing quite a job of pitching himself.

Johnson’s locker is next to that of Don Nottebart, the only other Colt pitcher to throw a no-hitter. And coincidentally, or not, the foes got a run in that one. Nottebart beat Philadelphia, 4-1, last May 17. Johnson and Nottebart are roommates on the road trips.

Here is the audio call of the final out.

... this is why I love baseball and love no hitters. You just never know what you are going to see. I know for me, the no hitter is one of those events I will stop what I am doing just to see if the pitcher can pull off one of baseball's rare feats.  The MLB network is a godsend for just this thrill.

I managed to pick this card up for a (go figure, now that I am going after this set) 1972 Topps Billy Martin. Not bad for a little piece of History.

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