No one sees a game without hits coming.
Don Larsen’s perfect game in the 1956 World Series came after he failed the last two innings in his previous start. Dwight Gooden pitched a no-hitter after returning from a season-long suspension, pitching 11 years past his peak. David Wells claimed perfection, while claiming to be hungover.
Still, Jim Abbott’s hitless game may be the most surprising in Yankees history. At the very least, it’s still the most inspiring.
Abbott, who was born without a right hand, was immortalized in stripes on September 4, 1993, becoming the first Yankees pitcher in 10 years to pitch a no-hitter game in a 4-0 win over the Indians in the Bronx. .
“I wish I had an incredible vocabulary to describe the euphoria I felt,” Abbott told MLive.com in 2019. “The disbelief. See the fans jumping up and down, the noise, to be at the center of it all with your teammates. Team. And to share the moment with Matt Nokes, my receiver. All the senses of your body are at full speed. You are just assimilating everything. “
Abbott, who entered with a 9-11 record in his first of two seasons with the Yankees, was coming off his worst outing of the season. Against the same Cleveland team, he had given seven runs and 10 hits in 3 2/3 innings, prompting Abbott to run three miles as punishment after being retired.
In the no-hitter, Abbott only recorded three strikeouts, while walking five and throwing 119 pitches. The Yankees, in the midst of their first winning season in five years, entered the first day of reigning World Series champion Blue Jays for first place in the American League East.
“I think non-hitters take a little bit of luck,” Abbott said then. “To be honest, I can barely tell the difference, other than a little more control over my breaking ball, between this start and the last.
“I am delighted to get out of that last start and launch a game like this.” It makes it doubly nice to be in September and to be in a pennant race. ”
Abbott, a Michigan first-round pick in 1988, debuted with the Angels without ever appearing in the minors. He finished fifth in AL’s Rookie of the Year vote in 1989, then third in AL’s Cy Young vote in 1991. Abbott struggled to find the same success after being traded to New York prior to the 1993 season, but raised an ordinary afternoon business to Always.
However, faced with an alignment with Albert Belle, Manny Ramírez, Jim Thome, Kenny Lofton and Carlos Baerga, Abbott’s historic start almost became forgettable.
In the seventh inning, Wade Boggs kept the no-hitter intact by diving for Belle and completing the pitch at first. In the ninth, Lofton felt the anger of the Yankee Stadium crowd after attempting a touch, which resulted in a foul. Félix Fermín followed with a 390-foot run to the left center, caught by Bernie Williams.
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Finally, Abbott induced Baerga a short punishment, with Randy Velarde shooting Don Mattingly for the final exit.
“The last couple of innings, I had these huge chills on my forearms, and the hair on the back of my neck was upright,” Mattingly told Sports Illustrated in 1993. “Maybe that would have happened to someone else. Maybe I would have the same feelings. But I think because it was Jim there was something extra. “
Abbott last appeared on the mound in 1999, going 87-108 with a 4.25 career ERA. Now he works as a motivational speaker.