Thinking About Pulling Your Pitcher During His Own No-Hitter? It’s Been Done Before

An interesting side-note from C.C. Sabathia’s near-no hitter yesterday was that, even had Tampa Bay’s Kelly Shoppach failed to record his team’s first hit with two outs in the eighth inning, Yankees manager Joe Girardi was ready to pull Sabathia anyway.

The decision was all about pitch count; Shoppach’s single came on Sabathia’s 111th pitch of the night. Despite Sabathia’s established reputation for extraordinary stamina, Girardi wanted to take no chances this early in the season.

Had he pulled his pitcher in the middle of a no-hitter, it wouldn’t have been the first time it’s happened.

When Preston Gomez was managing the Padres in 1970, he yanked starter Clay Kirby, not due to fear of overload, but because a series of first-inning walks and stolen bases by the Mets gave them a 1-0 lead. Despite his eight no-hit innings, he was pulled for a pinch-hitter in the bottom of the frame.

In ’74, Gomez did it again as manager of the Astros, pulling Don Wilson after eight no-hit innings, while trailing 2-1.

While that technically qualifies as precedent for Girardi, Gomez’s career winning percentage was .395, and his teams finished somewhere other than last place only once in seven years.

That certainly had more to do with talent-free rosters than stirring up bad baseball juju, but it’s still something that Mr. Girardi might want to consider should a similar situation arise in the future.

- Jason

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6 Comments

Filed under C.C. Sabathia, Clay Kirby, Don Wilson, Joe Girardi, No-Hitter Etiquette, Preston Gomez

6 responses to “Thinking About Pulling Your Pitcher During His Own No-Hitter? It’s Been Done Before

  1. I think it’s telling that both of Gomez’s pitchers were trailing in their no-hitters. Sabathia had an 8-0 lead.

    Still I wouldn’t want to be the guy to tell him to come out of the game.

  2. Mike Sparacino

    We’re coming up on the anniversary of another near no-hitter. It took place on April 14, 1967. The manager in this instance, Dick Williams, didn’t take the pitcher out of the game prematurely, but he did go out to the mound to talk to him with two outs in the ninth — and the rest is history (or near-history). He has ever since expressed his regrets about doing so.

    This link to an article about the pitcher tells the story. Note, by the way, the references in the article to at least two baseball codes. Enjoy: http://www.sabr.org/cmsfiles/Billy%20Rohr.doc

    • jturbow

      Thanks for the awesome reference, Mike. Dick Williams learned the hard way that a manager should avoid interrupting the flow of a no-hitter in pretty much any way.

      In “Baseball When the Grass Was Real,” relief pitcher Bucky Walters described being booed when he went out to warm up during Johnny Vander Meer’s second no-hitter. Even the fans knew the rule.

      – Jason

      • Mike Sparacino

        I should have also included this, which is even more awesome. This is on YouTube — it’s the Yaz catch referred to in the article, which (temporaily) saved the no-hitter. Check out the auxiliary scoreboard behind Yaz when he makes the catch. Here’s the YouTube link:

      • jturbow

        Freaking fantastic, Mike. Thanks for the treasure trove.

        – Jason

  3. Pingback: Don’t Talk During a No-Hitter—a Rule That Never Gets Old « The Baseball Codes

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