No-Hitter Etiquette

Halladay Brings No-Hitter Etiquette to the Postseason

Needless to say, there were some no-hitter superstitions observed—or not—during Roy Halladay’s no-hitter against Cincinnati on Thursday.

Things got quiet in the Phillies dugout at about the sixth inning. “People stayed in their seats and sat there and watched the game,” said Charlie Manuel in the Philadelphia Inquirer. “[Halladay] came in and went down to the end of the dugout, sat in his chair, and didn’t say a word.”

In the bullpen, the relievers stayed seated and attentive. Ryan Madson, even though he needed to use the restroom in increasingly desperate fashion, did not move to do so until after the game.

The same even held true for team executives in the owner’s box, who stayed put through the final innings.

The same can’t be said for those in the broadcast booth. On ESPN Radio, Dave Campbell and Jon Sciambi wasted no time referencing the no-hitter, once it became apparent, with Campbell going so far as to “wonder if Don Larsen is watching?”

“I said something going to break at seven and eight,” said Sciambi in the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. “My first job is to serve the listener. On radio, specifically, they wouldn’t have the first clue if I didn’t fill them in on it. It’s my responsibility to tell them what is going on.”

Brian Anderson and Joe Simpson did likewise on TBS.

“There’s a responsibility there to make sure you catch audience,” said Anderson, the TV voice of the Milwaukee Brewers. “My nightmare is for people to be flipping through the channels and not know what’s going on in this game because I’m trying to follow some baseball etiquette.”

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12 thoughts on “Halladay Brings No-Hitter Etiquette to the Postseason

  1. I had this discussion with my girlfriend, a huge Phillies fan, who was becoming increasingly upset as the game went on and the broadcasters kept referencing it. She was very careful NOT to mention what it was they were referencing. As a former journalist, I told her that the broadcasters had a duty to inform the public, not to the baseball code gods, as much as she would like otherwise.

    The Phillie fan’s response? “Duty shmuty.”

    That’s about right.

    1. It’s easy for the potentially jinxed to call out potential jinxes. Superstitions are like religion in that regard: non-believers have no comprehension about why believers believe, and believers know in their hearts that non-believers are cursed for their ignorance.

      As a non-believer myself, it’s still difficult to pass too much judgment in that regard. It’s the kind of thing that makes baseball fun.

  2. Should broadcasters be exempt from etiquette in the public interest? maybe. However anyone watching tbs would have seen the boxscore at least once an inning and so the viewer could probably work it out themselves even if they were to tune in late. that said, i watched the whole game on tbs over here in the uk and they were talking about a no-hitter as early as the 4th, which i thought was tempting fate just a little too much.

    1. Many broadcasters who talk about whether or not to reference a no-hitter on the air do so in the context of radio broadcasts for just that reason. There’s far less need to utter the phrase “no-hitter” if there’s a linescore across the top of the screen.

      Referencing a no-no in the fourth actually doesn’t seem too early for me. Sportswriters play a press-box game in which 10 people buy in for a random number between one and 10. The guy with the number correlating to the position in the batting order that eventually breaks up the no-no wins the pot. (Number 10 wins if the no-hitter is completed.)

      Someone long ago decided that this game should take place immediately following the third inning, giving professional credence to that being the point at which the feat is worthy of attention.

  3. I think that serious baseball fans would watch the game anyway, even if they had to pick up the game in later innings due to conflicts like work, etc. Are there really a lot of TV viewers out there that would flip through the channels and only stop to watch just beacause a no-hitter was going on? I just don’t think that a casual or fair-weather baseball fan would be that into it.

    1. I absolutely think that a no-hitter would draw more fans. Many more fans. Sure, fans of the A’s and Yankees were watching Dallas Braden’s perfect game anyway. But other folks started flocking to TV sets once word got out that it was happening.

      People want to see greatness. There’s nothing better to distinguish one mid-season game from any other.

  4. I always thought announcers should be exempt from this bit of baseball etiquette and that it really should only be held to by on-field personnel. Maybe fans think it’s fun to follow but to get on someone’s case for mentioning it if that person isn’t in the dugout I think is way overboard.

      1. Agreed but that should be part of the adjustment to having a new job – going from on-field performer to commentator. The commentator needs to discuss all kinds of situations he didn’t necessarily discuss while on the field.

      2. No question. I’ll never knock a broadcaster for mentioning a no-hitter on the air.

        Still, when a guy comes up through the ranks for 20 years as a player at various levels, and this superstition is ingrained in him every step of the way, I find it endearing when he sticks to his guns and respects the rule.

  5. When watching the game I was just waiting for one announcer to pop “No hitter in progress” the first time they mentioned it on TBS was in the 5th when someone in the booth said “Perfect game lost no hitter intact.”

    I think announcers have the job of informing the viewers/listeners about whats happening in the game not just sit there and say “wow hes pitching a great game” This is the only baseball code that I as a fan do not heed to.

  6. They could just mention something like “he’s pitching a ‘you-know-what’ ” or “you don’t need me to tell you what he’s doing folks – look at the scoreboard”.

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