EDITOR’S NOTE: I have written a number of articles about various events in Cubs history that can be updated and published whenever a Cub does something historic — a no-hitter, for example.
While baseball is on its mandated hiatus due to the novel coronavirus outbreak, I thought it would be fun to take a look at these slices of franchise history.
There have been 15 no-hitters in Cubs franchise history.
That statement has to be looked at with a small grain of salt. The first four no-hitters thrown by the Chicago National League Ball Club, then known as the White Stockings, were thrown under far different conditions than exist today. The distance from the plate to the mound wasn’t standardized at its current 60 feet, six inches until 1893. So really, including today’s, the Cubs have 11 no-hitters in baseball as we know it now, 10 in the “modern era,” since 1900.
Nonetheless, they’re all in the books, and here — with boxscore links for those after 1904 (the “baseball-reference era”) — are details of all 15.
August 19, 1880: Larry Corcoran, 6-0 over the Boston Red Caps. This no-no was the fourth in the history of the National League.
September 20, 1882: Larry Corcoran, 5-0 over the Worcester Ruby Legs. Corcoran is one of three pitchers in franchise history to throw more than one no-hitter.
June 27, 1884: Larry Corcoran, 6-0 over the Providence Grays. Can you tell that Corcoran was pretty good at this? No one else threw more than two no-hitters until Bob Feller.
July 27, 1885: John Clarkson, 4-0 over the Providence Grays. This is the first no-hitter in franchise history thrown on the road.
August 21, 1898: Walter Thornton, 2-0 over the Brooklyn Bridegrooms. After four no-hitters by righthanders, here’s the first one in team history by a lefthander, and the first Cubs no-hitter thrown from the current 60-foot, six-inch mound distance. It was the second game of a doubleheader.
May 12, 1955: Sam Jones, 4-0 over the Pittsburgh Pirates. After nearly 40 years — the longest gap between no-nos in Cubs history — this one was thrown in front of just 2,918 at Wrigley Field, the first Wrigley no-hitter by a Cub. It was the first one thrown by an African-American pitcher, and Jones issued seven walks. That included walking the bases loaded in the ninth inning, then striking out the side.
May 15, 1960: Don Cardwell, 4-0 over the St. Louis Cardinals. Cardwell had been acquired in a trade from the Phillies just two days earlier, and this was his first start as a Cub. He allowed only one baserunner, a first-inning walk to Alex Grammas, and to this day no other pitcher has thrown a no-hitter in his first start after being traded. This no-no, the second game of a doubleheader, was saved by a shoestring catch in left field by Walt “Moose” Moryn for the final out.
August 19, 1969: Ken Holtzman, 3-0 over the Atlanta Braves. On a cool day for mid-August, with the wind blowing in strongly from left field, a ball hit by Hank Aaron that looked targeted for Waveland Avenue was blown back and caught in the well by Billy Williams. It’s one of just two no-hitters in major-league history where the no-hit pitcher had no strikeouts. (Here’s the other one, oddly enough, thrown by a different pitcher named Sam Jones.) Catcher Bill Heath was hit by a foul ball on his hand and left the game with what turned out to be a broken finger; it was his last major-league game.
Here’s the article I wrote about Holtzman’s no-hitter on its 50th anniversary last August, which includes several video clips.
June 3, 1971: Ken Holtzman, 1-0 over the Cincinnati Reds. Holtzman issued four walks and struck out six, and in the third inning reached base on an error and scored the only run of the game, becoming the second pitcher in club history to throw more than one no-hitter. Here’s the final out:
April 16, 1972: Burt Hooton, 4-0 over the Philadelphia Phillies. A players’ strike delayed the start of the 1972 season, so this Sunday game, played in 40-degree temperatures with drizzle, was the second game of the year. Hooton, who was the Cubs’ No. 1 draft pick the previous year, was making his fourth major-league start. He walked seven and struck out seven in his no-no.
September 2, 1972: Milt Pappas, 8-0 over the San Diego Padres. With two out in the ninth inning on pinch-hitter Larry Stahl, plate umpire Bruce Froemming called a 3-2 pitch ball four, depriving Pappas of a perfect game. TV replays showed the pitch was borderline. Pappas completed the no-hitter, the Cubs’ fifth in the previous 18 seasons, by retiring the next batter on an infield popup. Milt passed away April 19, 2016, still convinced he got jobbed by Froemming.
September 14, 2008: Carlos Zambrano, 5-0 over the Houston Astros. This game, rescheduled at the last minute from Houston to Miller Park in Milwaukee due to Hurricane Ike, is the only no-hitter in major-league history thrown at a neutral site. You wouldn’t have known that from the roars for Big Z from the 23,441 in attendance (myself included), almost all of whom were Cubs fans who had driven up from Chicago. Zambrano allowed one walk, hit one batter and struck out 10.
August 30, 2015: Jake Arrieta, 2-0 over the Los Angeles Dodgers. This is the first Cubs no-hitter in an opponent’s park since Holtzman’s in 1971. Arrieta allowed just two baserunners, one on an error by Starlin Castro, the other on a walk issued to Jimmy Rollins. He struck out 12, the most in any Cubs no-hitter, and posted a Game Score of 98, the second-highest for a nine-inning game in Cubs history (the highest: 105 by Kerry Wood in his 20-K game).
Here’s the final out of this no-hitter [VIDEO]; the clip includes the ESPN TV call as well as Pat Hughes’ radio call.
April 21, 2016: Jake Arrieta, 16-0 over the Cincinnati Reds. Jake became the third Cubs pitcher, and second since 1900, to throw more than one no-hitter. He walked four, the most by a Cub in a no-hitter since Hooton. The 16 runs was the most scored by the winning team in a no-hitter since August 4, 1884. In addition to throwing the no-hitter, Jake contributed to the 18-hit offense with a pair of singles. (He also singled in his previous no-no in 2015.)