I’ve been following baseball just about my entire life. For a few years, I was a radio sportscaster, covering high school games, college games and American Legion games, even slow-pitch and fast-pitch softball games. In all my 40+ years as a baseball fan and sportscaster, there is something I’ve never witnessed, either in person or even on TV: a no-hitter.
I just finished reading Kristen’s post on being at Jered Weaver’s no-hitter last night and darned if that red-headed monster known as jealousy reared its ugly head. I’m jealous that she got to see this rare occurrence in person, but I’m also jealous of every single person who got to witness the feat on television too.
As a Rangers fan living eight hours away from where the Rangers play, it has taken until this year to finally be pretty assured that I can watch a Rangers game on TV any night of the week except Friday (when it’s only broadcast on a local Dallas TV station). It’s been better the past two years since my cable company added the second Fox Sports Southwest channel to the line-up. In 2010 and 2011, Rangers games were usually on the second channel, but sometimes they’d be dropped in favor of a San Antonio Spurs or Dallas Mavericks game. Prior to 2009, seeing a Rangers game on TV usually meant the Astros had an off day or one of the teams had a day game when the other didn’t.
As a result, diehard Rangers fan that I am, I did not get to see Nolan Ryan’s sixth and seventh no-hitters. Kenny Rogers perfect game? I actually didn’t realize the game was on the air that night and only happened upon it for the last few outs. Still not the same as seeing the entire thing.
No, the closest this guy has come to witnessing something remotely close was in my days as a sportscaster. About thirty years ago, I was covering an American Legion game in Gering, Nebraska. The kid on the mound was a teenage finesse pitcher. He didn’t throw heat, but had pretty darn good off-speed stuff for his age and very good control.
He was mowing them down that night. 1-2-3 inning after 1-2-3 inning. His breaking stuff was fooling everyone and he was getting whiff after whiff. I was getting more excited the longer the game went on. Like any good fan and broadcaster, I didn’t say the words out loud. The closest I got was to say, “For the 5th straight inning, no runs, no hits, no errors and nobody left on base.”
He still had perfection in his sights entering the seventh and final inning. If I recall correctly, he got the first out of the 7th. The crowd, which probably numbered 100 at best, was as loud as a hundred people could get. Then, the unthinkable. A batter decided to lay off the breaking stuff and coaxed a walk. You could hear the entire crowd sigh as one as the batter took first base, the perfect game gone.
One pitch later, the man was on second, having stolen the base. A couple of pitches later, it was over, as the next man up hit a clean single to right center, bringing home a run. In a span of two batters, the perfect game was gone, the no-hitter was gone, even the shutout was gone.
To this day, it’s as close as I’ve come to witnessing what Kristen and most Angels and Twins fans saw last night. Enjoy your memories of Jered Weaver’s gem. One day I hope to have a memory like that of my own.