ERIC: Next week marks the anniversary of a true You Stink! moment…
In 1964, Major League Baseball celebrated its 75th anniversary. There were lots of interesting events that year: the Phillies had a six game lead with twelve to play, lost ten in a row, and finished second. Roberto Clemente led the Majors in hitting with a .339 average, Harmon Killebrew hit 49 homers to lead the Major Leagues, and a brilliant left handed pitcher named Sandy Koufax dominated pitching in both leagues. The New York Yankees won their last American League pennant for more than a decade, and the St. Louis Cardinals won the World Series in seven games in a brilliant series. There were many things to celebrate.
You Stink! celebrates dubious distinctions. And one of the great dubious distinctions in the history of professional baseball occurred on April 23, 1964. Prior to that day, there had been 152 no-hitters recorded in the history of Major League Baseball, including a perfect game in the World Series, back-to-back starts by Johnny Vandermeer in 1938, and an opening day no-hitting twirled by Bob Feller in 1940. There would be two more no-hitters in 1964, including a perfect game by Jim Bunning of the Phillies on Father’s Day, and a record-breaking third gem by Sandy Koufax on June 4.
On April 23, 1964, something happened that had never before occurred, Hurler Ken Johnson of the Houston Colt 45’s (who changed their name to the Astros after the 1964 season) pitched a nine-inning no-hitter and LOST the game, 1-0. Nobody had ever done this before, and only one other pitcher, Andy Hawkins of the New York Yankees (pictured here), has done it since (Hawkins pitched a nine inning no-hitter and lost to the Chicago White Sox 4-0 on June 1, 1990). Since Johnson’s gem was the first, we have decided to honor that particular dubious distinction here, for the 48th anniversary of that game.
For a detailed recap of this unique event, check out this article by John Wilson of the Houston Chronicle.