Friday, June 1, 2012

It Has Happened - Mets First No Hitter

It Has Happened! Commentary by Sanford D. Horn
June 1, 2012

On Friday, June 1, in game number 8,020 in the 51st season of the storied history of the New York Mets, the virtually unthinkable has finally transpired: a Mets pitcher has tossed a no-hitter. Johan Santana, the 33-year-old southpaw authored the no-no in an 8-0 victory over the defending World Series champion St. Louis Cardinals at Citi Field before 27,069 fans. Santana spun his gem in 2:35, while walking five batters to raise his record to 3-2.

After missing all of the 2011 season due to shoulder surgery and the subsequent recovery, just getting back to the majors was a key goal for Santana. While there were a number of close calls, the catch by Mike Baxter in leftfield in the seventh inning will forever be linked to preserving the no-hitter, also the first in Santana's career which includes two Cy Young awards.

Santana threw 134 pitches, including eight strikeouts in crafting his masterpiece, which ended when he fanned David Freese before being mobbed by his Mets teammates in front of the mound. Santana expressed his pride in being able to bring the Mets fans the team's first no-hitter, but also humbly explained how this was a team effort.

I never thought I would see this day come, having been a Mets fan since 1972 when I was but six-years-old watching games with my father, a Blessed memory, on the black and white television in my parents' bedroom, first in South Orange, NJ then in Springfield, NJ.

Summers in the '70s and early '80s suffering through 90-plus losses year in and year out were the norm. No-hit futility struck my hero Tom Seaver on several occasions, having lost three bids in the ninth inning alone before finally tossing his gem also against the Cardinals, but while wearing a Cincinnati Reds uniform.

And Seaver was not alone. Futility in a Mets uniform came to Nolan Ryan, Mike Scott, David Cone and Dwight Gooden – all of whom tossed no-hitters for other teams. Ryan threw seven such gems for the California Angels, Houston Astros and Texas Rangers. Scott threw a no-hitter for the Astros as well, clinching the 1986 Western Division. Both Cone and Gooden tossed their gems for the hated New York Yankees – Gooden in 1996 and Cone in 1999, his being a perfecto.

Lesser known former Mets Hideo Nomo and Phillip Humber also have no-hitters on their baseball resumes. Humber threw Major League Baseball's 21st perfect game this season for the Chicago White Sox. Nomo threw two no-nos, one in each league – in 1996 for the Dodgers and one in 2001 for the Red Sox.

The Mets have had stellar pitchers come and go over the years without throwing a no-hitter. Not Jerry Koosman; not Jon Matlack; not Craig Swan; not Ron Darling; not Sid Fernandez; not Orel Hershiser; not Frank Viola; not Tom Glavine; not even the great Warren Spahn, so quite frankly, during each radio broadcast upon the Mets surrendering their first hit of the game and Howie Rose would announce how many games it had been for the Mets without a no-hitter, I would chuckle and sometimes say out loud, "it's never going to happen."

Well it finally did, and Mets television announcer Gary Cohen shouted, "He struck him out. It has happened..." as if he was talking directly to me, and I wasn't even watching the game. I did manage to listen to some of it on the radio, as I do most nights, tuning in on XM-Radio, as I no longer live in the New York area.

I caught an inning's worth on the way from synagogue following Sabbath evening services heading to dinner with friends, thinking nothing other than, with the three-run homer hit by Lucas Duda in the sixth inning, the Mets had a 5-0 lead, a cushion that should net them a win.

Upon returning home and seeing the crawl on Fox News that the almost impossible finally became possible, the experience became surreal. I watched as many highlights as possible on the Mets website, the MLB site and on ESPN – over and over again – mesmerized – with chills running up and down my spine and arms.

I now almost know how Boston Red Sox fans felt in 2004 after their 87-year World Series championship draught finally ended – almost.

Sanford D. Horn is a writer and educator living in Westfield, IN. He has been a fan of the New York Mets fan since 1972, attending his first game at Shea Stadium in 1974 with his father and maternal grandfather, both, sadly, Blessed memories.

1 comment:

  1. If this is the "Sandy" Horn with whom I lived with at the University of Maryland ... please contact me: BRADLEY INGELS ... email is: THANKS!