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Sanchez latest rookie to toss a no-no
09/07/2006 1:03 AM ET

One of the most famous lines in the movie "Field of Dreams" was only one word long, uttered by Ray Liotta as Shoeless Joe Jackson, and it seems appropriate right now. Say it with meaning and a shake of the head.

It took a happy-go-lucky rookie from Venezuela to end an historic drought of no-hitters in Major League Baseball history. Florida's Anibal Sanchez became the 19th pitcher with that playing-service distinction to accomplish the feat, holding the visiting Diamondbacks hitless in another crucial victory during this playoff chase.

This was reporter Joe Frisaro's first paragraph Wednesday night:

MIAMI -- Major League start No. 13 certainly proved lucky for Anibal Sanchez.

This was reporter Sandy Burgin's first paragraph almost five years ago to the day:

SAN DIEGO -- Bud Smith's 13th Major League game was anything but unlucky.


Smith threw that one for the Cardinals to beat San Diego, the last time a rookie pitched a no-hitter in the Majors. It was actually his 11th start and 13th appearance. There would not be many more. "Bud" was a fitting name for St. Louis, but hitters became "wiser" and his Major League career never made it past the following season.

Before Smith, another rookie to pitch a no-hitter in the Majors was Wilson Alvarez -- like Sanchez, a Venezuelan rookie at the time. In 1991, he allowed two homers and three earned runs without retiring a batter in his Major League debut for Texas. Five days later, he was shipped to the White Sox along with Sammy Sosa in the Harold Baines deal. In his first start with Chicago (second overall), he became the eighth-youngest pitcher in Major League history to throw a no-hitter, against Cal Ripken Jr. and the Orioles at Baltimore's old Memorial Stadium.

Jose Jiminez sandwiched a no-no between Alvarez and Smith, as a rookie in 1999. Remarkably, that one -- also for St. Louis -- came against an Arizona pitcher named Randy Johnson. Big Unit picked up some tricks there.

Remember Charles C. Robertson? Sure you don't. But Ty Cobb probably did. In his third Major League start for the White Sox, Robertson was perfect. At Detroit on April 30, 1922, he beat the Tigers, 2-0, with the sixth perfect game in Major League history. A diving foul-line catch by left fielder Johnny Mostil preserved the victory. Robertson's subsequent career was a disappointment: He nursed a sore arm through six more seasons, never winning more than he lost.


Anibal Sanchez can take solace in knowing that occasionally a rookie has thrown a no-hitter and gone on to great things.

The first no-hitter ever thrown by a rookie was by Christy Mathewson. It was a 5-0 victory for the New York Giants over the Cardinals on July 12, 1900.

Second-best pitcher who did it: Vida Blue. And man, did he look good doing it in those Charlie Finley uniforms at Oakland. Looking good, feeling good. It was a 6-0 gem that beat the Twins on Sept. 21, 1970.

Paul Dean? It was on Sept. 21, 1934 for the Cardinals, as Dizzy's brother helped the Gashouse Gang toward a world championship. Great moment for one of the greatest teams ever. How relevant is that one now? It ended what now stands as the longest drought of no-hitters in modern Major League history if one uses the criteria of total MLB game days. The previous no-no had come in 1931. If you go by total MLB games played between no-hitters, then Sanchez just ended the longest one.


Burt Hooton threw one for the Cubs in only his fourth Major League start, giving the Cubs a 4-0 victory over the Phillies on April 16, 1972. The following season, two Major League rookies pitched no-hitters. There was Steve Busby's for Kansas City against Detroit on April 27, 1973, and there was Jim Bibby's for Texas on that July 30 to beat Oakland.

In 1983, when the White Sox were winning ugly, Oakland's Mike Warren didn't care how they looked. It was the last Thursday of the regular season, and there were only 9,000-plus in Oakland to watch it as Chicago was headed to the playoffs. Warren would go 9-13 with 27 starts in his three years as a Major Leaguer.

In 1961, the Los Angeles Angels were added to Major League Baseball, and the next year it included a made-for-Hollywood face named Bo Belinsky. He perfected the art of the poolside press conference, especially when it included talking about a rookie no-hitter against Baltimore on May 5, 1962. Belinsky made it to the 1970 season, and although he lived it up with the Hollywood set, he never quite lived up to that rookie no-hitter potential.


Other no-hitters thrown by rookies included: Nicholas Maddox (Pirates over Dodgers on 9/20/07); Charles Tesreau (Giants over Phillies on 9/6/12); Vernon Kennedy (White Sox over Indians on 8/31/35); William McCahan (A's over Senators on 9/3/47); and Don Wilson (Astros over Braves, 6/18/67).

History will show that the most unbelievable one of them all, though, was twirled by Bobo Holloman. He was making his first start for the St. Louis Browns, and in this case Bill Veeck didn't even have to schedule it as a promotion. The Browns would move to Baltimore and become the Orioles the next year, but Holloman, a 30-year-old rook, put on a show with a 6-0 no-hitter against the Phils.

The date was May 6, 1953.

His final game as a Major Leaguer was on July 19, 1953.

Career numbers: 50 walks, 25 strikeouts. But a no-hitter in his first Major League start. What a beautiful day. Just like it was Wednesday for Anibal Sanchez, as he gave fans a treat and enjoyed the spoils of a teammate's pie to the face.


This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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