On the heels of Brian Doyle’s article about Johnathan Sanchez’ no-hitter the other day it got me thinking of what the worst no-hitter was in baseball. How is it possible to throw the worst no-hitter? I thought A.J Burnett’s 9-walk no-hitter back in 2001 was despicable but i delved a bit deeper to find if anyone else was worse. Here’s what I found.
Back on Aug 19, 1965 All-Star pitcher Jim Maloney was in the midst of his only All-Star season with the Cincinnati Reds. It was the second game of a double-header against the Cubs who featured Ernie Banks and Ron Santo. Maloney carried his no-hitter all the way through til the 10th inning in which he withstood long enough to help his team win a 1-0 battle.
So he is the only pitcher to ever throw a 10-inning no-hitter. In fact no other pitcher has thrown 9+ innings of no-hit ball. What makes this appearance so bad though is that he faced 40 batters. That would be 10 over the minimum, aka 10 walks. The only double-play he induced was the one that ended the game in the 10th innings. In the bottom of the ninth he left runners stranded at 2nd and 3rd before he induced a pop fly to the shortstop to send the game to extras. Maloney did have 12 strikeouts but he faced two more batters than the opposing pitcher who also threw a complete game. Ernie Banks went 0-5 in the no-hitter.
Another interesting no-hit bid by Maloney came in 1964 when Maloney pitched 10 innings of no-hit ball against the Mets. Unfortunately for him, the game went to the 11th inning when Johnny Lewis, the right-fielder for the Mets led off the 11th with a home run. It was only his 3rd home run of his career as Lewis would only hit 22 in his 4-year service with MLB. Ironically Lewis would hit more home runs, 3, off Maloney than any other pitcher in his short career, including his last of his homers. Maloney had 18 strikeouts in the 11-inning affair.
I had one other candidate aside from Maloney for worst no-hitter and that came off the arm of Ken Johnson. You can’t really blame the Houston righty who went 11-16 in 1964. On April 23, 1964, Johnson threw 9-innings with 9 strikeouts and just 2 walks. A great performance but yet he got the loss. The only time a pitcher has thrown a no-hitter and got the loss.
Here’s how it happened:
Top of the 9th in a tie game, Pete Rose steps in against Johnson and dribbles one back to him, Johnson goes to throw to first and throws it away allowing Rose to second. Two batters later an error by future Hall of Famer and second baseman, Nellie Fox allowed Pete Rose to score.
Ultimately it was Johnson’s own error that led to the loss so he will go down in infamy as one of the worst no-hitters and only no-hit loss.
And Now You Know! (And Knowing is Half the Battle)