1990 was an unbelievable season for no-hitters. There were seven of them that season. Nolan Ryan threw his sixth. Dave Stieb threw one after having two no-hitters broken up in the ninth in 1988. The White Sox even got in on the action that year, but looking at the record books, you might miss it.
July 1, 1990 was a very windy day on the South Side, and the Yankees were in town for a series against the Sox. Starting that afternoon was Andy Hawkins for the Yankees and Greg Hibbard for the White Sox. Two days before, Fernando Valenzuela and Dave Stewart both threw no-hitters, making them the fourth and fifth so far that season. Since it was so fashionable that season, Hawkins and Hibbard both started the game that way.
After one out in the top of the sixth, Hibbard gave up his first hit to Yankees catcher Bob Geren. He gave up another single right after that to Alvaro Espinoza, but worked out of that jam getting Roberto Kelly to pop out to first baseman Ron Kittle and striking out Steve Sax. Hibbard gave up two more singles in the seventh with two outs, but worked out of that to leave the game with the shutout intact.
Hawkins kept his no-hitter going. With two outs in the eighth, one of the strangest moments in baseball occurred. It all started after Sammy Sosa reached following an error by Mike Blowers. Sosa then stole second. Ozzie Guillen and Lance Johnson walked to load the bases. With the game on the line, Robin Ventura hit what should have been a can of corn flyout to Jim Leyritz in left. Leyritz, normally a catcher but playing left field on a windy day, dropped the ball. With speed on the bases and all the runners off on contact, Sosa, Guillen and Johnson scored, and Ventura reached second on the error. Ventura then scored when Jesse Barfield lost Ivan Calderon's fly ball to right by in the sun and dropped it for the third error of the inning. Cleanup hitter Dan Pasqua then popped out to short to end the eighth. With the Hawkins no-hitter still intact, the Sox were winning 4-0.
Scott Radinsky came on in the ninth. For some added drama, Ventura booted a ground ball with one out, allowing Steve Balboni to get on. Jesse Barfield promptly hit a grounder to Guillen, who started a double play to end the game.
Hawkins, however, was absolutely conflicted by the result. He threw an eight-inning no-hitter and lost the game.
I'm stunned; I really am. This is not even close to the way I envisioned a no-hitter would be. You dream of one, but you never think it's going to be a loss. You think of Stewart and Fernando, coming off the field in jubilation. Not this.
Ventura, obviously taking a cue from Harold Baines, discussed the game winning error.
I didn't see it. I just hit it and ran, and three guys scored.
After a few days, Hawkins started to come to grips with the odd hand that fate had dealt him.
"I got beat, and that stinks, but I still threw a no-hitter and that will never be taken away from me. I'm starting to feel better about it."
On July 12, 1990, Andy Hawkins had his chance to have his revenge against the White Sox. Storm clouds rolled in, literally and figuratively, and things didn't go so well for him. By the end of the game, the White Sox twisted the knife in Hawkins a little bit more.
The game started similarly to the previous matchup. Through the second, both offenses didn't do much. The Yankees had some opportunities. In the first, Steve Sax walked, stole second and advanced to third due to a bad throw by Carlton Fisk after two outs, but a flyout ended the inning. Perez also walked Matt Nokes in the second, and he stole second with two outs, but a groundout to Perez ended things there.
Hawkins, however, unraveled. He gave up a three-run homer to Lance Johnson in the third, and after walking Fisk to bring home a run with one out in the fourth, his day was done. Reliever Greg Cadaret gave up a two run single to Steve Lyons and threw a wild pitch to bring home Fisk to close the book on Hawkins for the day.
Perez struggled in the third, walking two batters. The first was erased after a double play and the second was left on after Don Mattingly grounded out to Ozzie Guillen. In the fourth, Perez settled in and struck out the side. Perez then struck out the first two batters in the fifth before Alvaro Espinoza flied out to center, the closest thing the Yankees had to a hit so far. After that inning, the Sox were leading 8-0. Perez had walked four and stuck out nine, but hadn't given up a hit yet.
The Sox and Yankees both had three-up, three-down innings in the sixth. In the top of the seventh, Dan Pasqua hit a double after Ivan Calderon flied out to center. Then, the rains came. The game was called with one out in the top of the seventh. Melido Perez had thrown the seventh no-hitter of the season. He was, naturally, ecstatic, but, besides throwing a no-hitter and winning, he had another reason to be.
I'm happy because I got my first no-hitter and because my brother was here.
Perez's brother, Pascual, was on the DL for the Yankees and in their dugout for the whole game. They also became the second set of brothers to pitch no-hitters. Pascual had his own rain-shortened no-hitter against the Phillies when he pitched for the Expos in 1988.
When the 1990 season was complete, nine no-hitters had been thrown. Right now, you're probably thinking, "Wait a second there Steve! At the start of the article, you said there were seven no-hitters in 1990." Actually, both statements are correct. Due to the nine no-hitters in 1990 and the seven through September 1991 (including a perfect game by Dennis Martinez), the Major League Committee for Statistical Purity (yes, this actually existed) changed the rules for what was considered a no-hitter. The rule was changed to require a pitcher or pitchers to pitch at least nine innings. Major League Baseball took away Andy Hawkins's no-hitter. The Perez brothers' were no more as well.
Andy Hawkins, unfortunately, got to watch all this happen from home. Cut by the Yankees in May 1991, he signed with the A's, who cut him in late August. Meanwhile, Melido Perez was demoted to the bullpen during 1991, and traded to the Yankees for aging second baseman Steve Sax in the offseason. Unknown at the time, the trade became exceptionally lopsided as prospect Bob Wickman was one of the minor leaguers the Sox sent to the Yankees for Sax.
So, as a note to Chris Sale, if you do throw a no-hitter this year, please do it at home. Then again, throwing an eight inning no-hit loss might be very ironic frosting on the cake that is his 2013 season.