In baseball and softball, a no-hit game (more commonly known as a no-hitter) refers to a contest in which one of the teams has prevented the other from getting an official hit during the entire length of the game, which must be at least 9 innings by the current Major League Baseball definition. Foul balls, foul tips, ground outs, fly outs, walks and errors do not break up a no-hitter.
A pitcher who prevents the opposing team from achieving a hit is said to have "thrown a no-hitter." The achievement of a no-hitter is rare and considered to be an extraordinary accomplishment for a pitcher or pitching staff. In most cases in the professional game, no-hitters are accomplished by a single pitcher who throws a complete game.
Labeling a game as a no-hitter does not imply that the opposing team has not reached base, since it is quite possible to reach base without a hit. Thus a no-hitter does not imply a shutout, and although it is extremely uncommon, it is possible for a pitcher to throw a no-hitter and yet lose the game. The special case of a no-hitter in which the other team has not reached base at all is called a perfect game. A perfect game is by definition a shutout and a victory.
It is considered bad luck by many fans and broadcast announcers to mention a team's hitless status while the game is in progress, so often only the most observant fans will realize that there is a possibility of a no-hitter until the game is over - or the no-hitter is broken up.
No-hitters in Major League Baseball
In Major League Baseball, no-hitters are a rare but not unheard-of occurrence, with an average of slightly less than two per season over the history of the game, with slightly more than 250 no-hitters having been thrown. Only 17 of those 250 were perfect games. On June 29, 1990, two no-hitters were thrown on the same day–the first time this had ever occurred. Dave Stewart of the Oakland Athletics no-hit the Toronto Blue Jays early in the evening; hours later, Los Angeles Dodger Fernando Valenzuela pitched his no-hitter against the St. Louis Cardinals.
The pitcher who holds the record for the most no-hitters is Nolan Ryan, who threw seven in his long career and was regarded as the undisputed king of no-hitters. His first two came within exactly two months of each other with the California Angels: one on May 15, 1973 and the other on July 15. He won two more with the Angels: September 28, 1974 and June 1, 1975. He threw his fifth no-hitter with the Houston Astros on September 26, 1981, which broke Sandy Koufax's record. His sixth and seventh no-hitters came with the Texas Rangers on June 11, 1990 and May 1, 1991.
The pitcher who holds the record for the longest period between no-hitters is Randy Johnson, who threw a no-hitter as a Seattle Mariner on June 2, 1990 and a perfect game as an Arizona Diamondback on May 18, 2004.
There have been nine combined no-hitters, that is, when multiple pitchers collectively throw a no-hitter during a game. The first was on June 23, 1917, with Babe Ruth as the starting pitcher. After walking the first batter of the game, Ruth was ejected for arguing with an umpire. Ernie Shore relieved Ruth; the runner at first was caught stealing, and Shore then retired the next 26 batters. For a long time Major League Baseball actually recognized Shore's feat as a perfect game as he technically achieved 27 consective outs with no batter reaching base (the runner caught stealing is counted as being an "out"), but stricter no-hitter definitions established after 1990 (see more below) retracted this. The Major League record for combined pitchers in a no-hitter is six, set by the Houston Astros against the New York Yankees on June 11, 2003. The pitchers were Roy Oswalt, Pete Munro, Kirk Saarloos, Brad Lidge, Octavio Dotel, and Billy Wagner. Ironically, at that time the Yankees had been the team who had gone the longest without a no-hitter thrown against them; they were last "no-hitted" in 1958 by Hoyt Wilhelm, a career relief pitcher making a rare start.
In 1953, Bobo Holloman of the St. Louis Browns pitched a no-hitter in his first major league start (not his first major league game though, as he had done a few relief appearances earlier in the season).
On April 23, 1964, Ken Johnson of the Houston Colt .45's (they became the Houston Astros the next season) became the only pitcher to lose a complete game no-hitter in nine innings when he was beaten 1-0 by Cincinnati. On July 1, 1990, Andy Hawkins of the New York Yankees lost 4-0, while pitching 8 innings of no-hit ball against the Chicago White Sox. All of the runs scored as a result of two walks and three consecutive errors on fly balls. In 1992, Matt Young of the Boston Red Sox lost an eight-inning no-hitter by a 2-1 score. In all of the 8-inning no-hit losses, the home team did not bat in the 9th, as they already had the lead.
A game that is a no-hitter through 9 innings may be lost in extra innings. In 1917, Fred Toney of the Cincinnati Reds and Hippo Vaughn of the Chicago Cubs squared off in a pitcher's duel that was a hitless, scoreless tie after 9 innings — the only time in baseball history that neither team has had a hit in regulation (the closest any game has come since was in 1965, when Sandy Koufax pitched a perfect game in 1965 and opposing pitcher Bob Hendley of the Cubs gave up only one hit to the Dodgers, however, that hit occurred in the middle of the game). The Reds got two hits in the top of the tenth and scored the winning run. In the bottom of the tenth, Toney retired the side and recorded a 10-inning no-hitter. In 1959, Harvey Haddix of the Pittsburgh Pirates pitched twelve perfect innings before losing the no-hitter and the game to the Milwaukee Braves in the 13th. Pedro Martínez was the last pitcher to lose a no-hitter in the 10th inning (via a Bip Roberts double) against the Padres in 1995. Like Haddix, he too had a perfect game after nine innings.
After Andy Hawkins' dubious 1990 achivement, Major League Baseball changed the rules so that only nohit games of 9 full innings are officially recognized. No-hitters and perfect games that go into extra innings because the score is tied at the end of regulation play (including 0-0 ties) are only recognized if the games finishes without it being broken up. Rain-shortened "official game" no-hitters are also no longer recognized (though they always had an "asterisk" in the record books anyway). As a result, Ken Johnson's 9-inning no-hit loss is the only one that is still recognized in the official baseball record books, the others cases noted above are simply "footnotes" in baseball trivia books and websites. This ruling, which has caused some no-hitters up to 100 years old to be "reversed", has been quite controversial, especially in the case of the 2 perfect games that were ended in extra innings and technically fit the "9 inning" definition. The 1917 "double no-hitter" by both sides is not officially recognized anymore either; only Fred Toney's 10-inning feat is officially considered a no-hitter.
On October 8, 1956, Don Larsen became the only person in Major League history to throw a no-hitter during a World Series game. Larsen's no-hitter was also a perfect game. It not only is the only no-hitter in World Series history, but is also the only no-hitter thrown in any postseason game.
In June 1938, Johnny Vander Meer of the Cincinnati Reds accomplished what no other pitcher has managed to duplicate. On June 11 of that year, he threw a no-hitter against the Boston Braves. In his very next start, June 15, he threw a no-hitter against the Brooklyn Dodgers, thus becoming the only pitcher in baseball history to throw consecutive no-hitters. He was perhaps aided by the fact that it was also the very first night game at Ebbets Field. Most baseball historians believe that his feat will never be exceeded, since to do so a pitcher would have to throw three consecutive no-hitters. Allie Reynolds (in 1951), Virgil Trucks (in 1952), and Nolan Ryan (in 1973) are the only other major leaguers thus far to throw two no-hitters in the same season. The pitcher who came closest to matching Vander Meer's feat was Dave Stieb, who lost no-hitters with two outs in the bottom of the ninth in two consecutive starts in 1988.
Some teams seem to pitch no-hitters more than others. Most notably, the New York Mets have never had a no-hitter pitched for them since their inception in 1962, despite having had some of baseball's most overpowering no-hit pitchers including Tom Seaver, Dwight Gooden, Ryan, Al Leiter and Mike Scott on their staff at times. (In sharp contrast, in 1969 Bill Stoneman pitched a no-hitter for the Montreal Expos only nine games into the franchise's existence.) This is sometimes explained as the effect of a curse for having traded eventual no-hit king Nolan Ryan away early in his career.
In addition, the aforementioned Bobo Holloman no-hitter was one of his only three Major League victories. By comparison, four 300-game winners—Steve Carlton, Don Sutton, Greg Maddux and Roger Clemens—have/had never pitched a no-hitter in their careers.
Also, some parks are famous for their number of no-hitters, either high or low. Forbes Field, home to the Pittsburgh Pirates from 1909 to 1970, never saw a no-hitter. Two parks in existence for a decade or more have only seen one no-hitter to date—the Orioles' current home, Oriole Park at Camden Yards, and Coors Field, the notoriously hitter-friendly home of the Colorado Rockies. In both parks, the only pitcher to throw a no-hitter is Hideo Nomo.
- American League No-hitters
- National League No-hitters
- No Hitters Alphabetically by Umpire
- National Baseball Hall of Fame: combined pitchers in a no-hitter
- Doc Ellis Says He Pitched 1970 No-Hitter Under The Influence of LSD