How players deal with a no-hitter in progress is unequivocal. Shut up, never mention it and stay the hell away from the pitcher.
Broadcasters, however, own a different set of responsibilities. It’s in their job description, after all, to tell the audience what’s happening on the field. Said ex-big-leaguer-turned-broadcaster Steve Lyons, “If you want people to stay tuned, you should probably mention, ‘Hey, hang in there, don’t go anywhere—guy’s throwing a no-hitter.’ ”
Of course, not every broadcaster feels this way.
Martinez now broadcasts Blue Jays games, and so far this young season has had two opportunities to describe home-team no-hitters into the deep innings. Except that he didn’t.
From Bruce Dowbiggin’s column in the Globe and Mail:
As Shaun Marcum and Ricky Romero no-hit their opponents until late in the game, viewers discovered “no-hitter” seemed to be the hardest words to say for Martinez and analyst Pat Tabler (also a former player).
There were euphemisms about players not rounding first base successfully. Or suggestions that opponents lacked for men on base. But the no-no was a no-no between Martinez and Tabler.
“I guess I’m still a baseball player at heart,” Martinez said yesterday. “I was a little reluctant to say the words. It’s not like we’re in the dugout. But I know that players have the TV on in the clubhouse, and I’d hate for a young guy to go in there and hear me say ‘no-hitter.’ I don’t know what it might do to him. I suppose old habits die hard.”
Of course, during David Cone’s perfect game in 1999, he went to the clubhouse after every inning, where he heard Yankees broadcaster Michael Kay “say I had a perfect game from the fifth inning on.”
Things still managed to work out okay.