Wednesday, May 8, 2019

Autographs and No Hitters

I had to drive about two total hours today to take a deposition for work. It gave me time to think about whether I wanted to post today. I decided I did because depositions often suck. Today's pretty much did.

Depositions are sometimes fun, sometimes painful, and oftentimes frustrating. I sit in a conference room with a court reporter, another lawyer, and a witness -- in the simplest cases, that more complicated cases, there may be 5 or 6 other lawyers in attendance in person or by phone and there may be a videographer present as well -- and I literally ask questions to the witness about events that took place one, two, or more years ago and expect the witness to have perfect recollection about seemingly inconsequential events that now have consequence. 

In the most frustrating cases, you end up with a witness who is long on generalities, short on specifics, but swears constantly that their generalities covered everything in the case perfectly. Then you ask them, "did you send an email about this" and their answer is "oh no, we did everything verbally."

No one does everything verbally anymore except witnesses who really didn't do what they said they did and are trying to claim they were perfect and your guys were the cheats, liars, scammers, and phonies.

It's a great system, let me tell you.

That said, last night about 12:45, the power flipped off in my house randomly for about 15 minutes. It woke me up, of course -- we have fans going in our room for white noise and to cool us off, and it gets deathly quiet without them. My nature is that I do not snooze or hit the snooze bar -- ever. Once I'm up, I'm up. That's a problem when I've only slept 3 hours, like last night. 

But, that inability to fall back asleep meant that I was awake at about 2:15 AM Eastern when Mike Fiers was trying to close out his second no-hitter of his career. I actually got to see the final out thanks to some guy on Twitter live streaming the TV feed using his camera on his phone, which was cool. 

It got me thinking today -- how many guys who have thrown no-hitters do I have autographs from? The answer was, "More than I thought."

There's the guy that started the discussion. Mike Fiers is one of only 35 pitchers to throw multiple no-hitters in his career, and he is one of only seven pitchers to throw no-hitters on more than one team -- Jim Bunning, Ted Breitenstein (1890s pitcher who threw a no-no in his first major league start), Randy Johnson, Hideo Nomo, Cy Young, and Nolan Ryan are the others.

Speaking of Nolan Ryan:

I'm pretty sure this is authentic. It was the result of an autograph request through the mail in the mid-1980s. While Nolan Ryan never threw a no-hitter against Milwaukee, he did win his 300th game against Milwaukee at Milwaukee County Stadium.

Speaking of the Brewers:

The one, the only is still Juan Nieves. Nieves threw his no-hitter in the middle of the 1987 Brewers 13-game season-opening win streak on April 15, 1987. He blanked the Baltimore Orioles 7-0 thanks to two great plays in the outfield -- one by Robin Yount and the other by the immortal Jim Paciorek -- and thanks to scattering 7 walks...

Two more Brewers ties. The first one is pretty weak, but hey -- I've got an autograph from the guy:

Carlos Villanueva never threw a no-hitter in the majors, but he was a part of a minor-league no-hitter as a Nashville Sound in 2006 in the Brewers system. I know -- kinda weak.

The next one is not weak, but he didn't throw his no-hitter as part of the Brewers:

Len Barker threw the first perfect game in the American League against a team using a designated hitter. He threw his perfecto on May 15, 1981 against the Toronto Blue Jays. Barker was never known for having good control, so his no-no may have been one of the most unlikely perfect games in baseball history.

Speaking of the Toronto Blue Jays:

Stieb returned the favor to the Cleveland Indians on September 2, 1990, throwing the first no-hitter in Toronto Blue Jays history. Stieb famously lost three other no-hitters previously by giving up hits with two outs in the ninth inning.

Many of us thought Dave Stieb had a chance for the Hall of Fame while he was pitching. He was good for a long time -- but not long enough.

Unlike the next no-hit hurler:

Hall of Famer Bert Blyleven threw a no-hitter on September 22, 1977 as a member of the Texas Rangers. He threw the no-hitter against the California Angels in his final start as a member of the Rangers. He was traded in the off-season to the Pirates in a four-team trade.

Blyleven was inducted into the Hall of Fame as a Minnesota Twin. This next guy never threw a no-hitter as a Twin, but he did combine on a no-hitter in spring training.

I got Viola's autograph in-person at a Brewers/Twins game in 1986 or 1987. Viola, Hrbek, Brunansky, Kirby -- all of them were incredibly nice guys even to Brewers fans.

Three more left, and all of these guys threw their no-hitters in the National League.

Fernando Valenzuela threw a no-hitter on June 29, 1990. Earlier that same day, his former Dodgers teammate Dave Stewart had thrown a no-hitter against the Toronto Blue Jays. Having watched that, he turned to his teammates and supposedly said, "That's great, now maybe we'll see another no-hitter." And Fernando went out and blanked the St. Louis Cardinals, scattering three walks and an error.

Perhaps the autograph most dear to me in recent vintage is this Charlie Lea card. I got this from Charlie about a year before he died. More importantly, I got the card because I was working at the time with his son Brian, who himself pitched some but who is an academic and legal stud who clerked for Justice Clarence Thomas on the U.S. Supreme Court. Brian passed along that his dad loved that I remembered him for this very card -- the huge wad of chewing tobacco in his mouth featuring, of course -- so Charlie sent me an autographed one and one of his 1981 Fleer cards.

And finally, a story about no-hitters and autographs would not be complete without this ball. It's a late-in-life autograph of the great Warren Spahn that my good friend Wes f/k/a Jaybarkerfan sent me a couple of years ago as part of our monster trading war. Those were fun days, what with seven priority mail boxes packed full of Brewers and Milwaukee Braves showing up in the space of less than a month.

So, what about you -- do you have any autographs from guys who threw no-hitters?


  1. Since you asked: Virgil Trucks, Hoyt Wilhelm, Jim Bunning, Phil Niekro, Jim Abbott, Justin Verlander. I'd like to add Spahn and Nolan one day. Hope you get a better night's sleep!

  2. In-person (and all on balls too): Gaylord Perry, Bob Feller, Vida Blue, Scott Erickson
    TTM: Juan Marichal (card), Nolan Ryan (postcard)
    Certified Cards: Phil Niekro, Catfish Hunter, Bob Gibson
    Trusted source: Jim Abbott

  3. At the moment I've got Don Larsen, AnĂ­bal Sanchez, Brandon League (part of a combo no-no), Ken Giles (part of a combo no-no), Sean Manaea, Walker Buehler (part of a combo no-no) and James Paxton.
    My hope is to one day add Joe Borden, John Montgomery Ward, Guy Heckler, Noodles Hahn and Dick Burns.

    Sidenote, the first pitcher on a team called the Milwaukee Brewers to throw a no-no was Ed Cushman. I hope you get his autograph one day.

    1. Considering Ed Cushman died over 100 years ago and that his no-hitter was in 1882, that will be a great challenge!

    2. Or, rather, in 1884, not 1882, but still.

    3. Where there's a will, there's a way.

  4. If Topps ever produces a Fiers A's autograph card... I'll be all over it (lol... if the price is right). As for autographs of pitchers who have thrown no-hitters, I have these guys:

    Bob Feller, Virgil Trucks, Don Larsen, Jim Bunning, Warren Spahn, Sandy Koufax, Juan Marichal, Catfish Hunter, Gaylord Perry, Jim Palmer, Ken Holzman, Dock Ellis, Vida Blue, Bob Gibson, Nolan Ryan, Phil Niekro, Dennis Eckersley, Tom Seaver, Jack Morris, Mike Scott, Mark Langston, Randy Johnson, Dave Stewart, Fernando Valenzuela, Dave Stieb, Jim Abbott, Dwight Gooden, Carlos Zambrano, Dallas Braden, Roy Halladay, Matt Cain, Clayton Kershaw, and Max Scherzer.

    I played it safe and only listed guys I know I have. There are about 5 to 7 more guys that I think I have... but it's getting close to my bedtime and I don't want to verify them.

  5. Not a frenzied auto collector like Fuji, but I do have: Fernando, Kershaw, Buehler (part of a no-no anywway), Nomo, Kevin Gross, Jerry Reuss, Koufax, Erskine ... notice a common theme?

  6. Tom Seaver, Bob Feller, Dwight Gooden, David Cone. I think that’s it, but a good four to have. There’s actually one on eBay closing tomorrow that so far is a really good deal, so I’m hoping I might add one! Will update if I win it!

    1. No such luck...was bidding on a Johan Santana dual auto but got outbid. Would have been nice to have an auto of the only guy to throw a no-no for my team. Oh, well.

  7. I have Dwight Gooden's autograph. A couple of them. One was in person (the day that Jose Fernandez, who was part of a combined no hitter, died).