SCOTTSDALE, Arizona -- The beginning of the 2013 season notes the continuation of a record streak for the Chicago Cubs.
Lovingly detailed every single day of the season by this Twitter feed, the Cubs' no-no-hit streak stands at 7,501 consecutive games entering this year. It is the longest such streak in major-league history, in 2010 breaking a record that had been held by the New York Yankees, who were not no-hit between 1958 and 2003.
With the plethora of perfect games in the big leagues lately -- there were three in 2012 and six in all since 2009 (and it should be seven, since Armando Galarraga had one taken from him by Jim Joyce's bad umpiring call in 2010) -- it's interesting to note that the last time the Cubs were no-hit was a perfect game, thrown by Sandy Koufax September 9, 1965.
There were pretty good reasons why that perfect game happened; not only was Koufax in his prime as the most dominant pitcher in baseball, but the Cubs started three players (Don Young, Byron Browne and Chris Krug) making their major-league debuts. Even though the current Cubs organization is undergoing a rebuild, it's doubtful you'll ever see a Cubs lineup like that one again. Also of note that night -- in addition to the three big-league debuts, there were three future Hall of Famers in that lineup (Billy Williams, Ron Santo and Ernie Banks).
A few more quirks to note about that long-ago perfect game, and one on perfect games in general:
- It was the second time the Cubs had been no-hit in 22 days. The Reds' Jim Maloney no-hit the Cubs at Wrigley Field in the first game of a doubleheader August 19. More unusualness about that game: it's one of just two no-hitters thrown by a visiting pitcher at Wrigley; it was the last complete-game 10-inning no-hitter thrown by anyone; and Maloney issued more walks (10) than anyone else who's ever thrown a no-hitter.
- It is the lowest-hit game in major-league history. The Cubs' Bob Hendley allowed just one hit, and it had nothing to do with the one run scored by the Dodgers behind Koufax. The run scored on a walk, a sacrifice, a stolen base and a throwing error. Hendley's no-hitter was broken up with two out in the seventh, by a double.
- Five days later at Wrigley Field, Hendley and Koufax faced each other in a rematch. Hendley threw a four-hit complete game and the Cubs won 2-1 on a two-run homer by Billy Williams off Koufax.
- Counting only perfect games in the modern (since 1900) era, there have now been more perfect games thrown since 1991 (11) than there were from 1900-1990 (10).
The closest the Cubs came to having the no-hit streak broken in 2012 was July 31, when the Pirates' A.J. Burnett retired the first 11 hitters he faced, and didn't give up a hit until the eighth inning.
The Cubs' streak of not being no-hit is now a real badge of honor, as recognized by the Twitter feed, which faithfully tweets out the first hit the Cubs get in each game. Though I am a student of baseball history, and would love someday to see a perfect game in person, I'd like to see it either thrown in a game in which the Cubs aren't involved, or by a Cubs pitcher sometime in the future.
MLB 2K13 proudly announces the return of the Perfect Game Challenge. Pitch a perfect game for your favorite team and you could win some serious money, including a top prize of $250,000. Go to facebook.com/mlb2k for details.