Review: ‘Baseball’s No-Hit Wonders’ is fascinating book

March 15, 2016 GMT

“Baseball’s No-Hit Wonders: More Than a Century of Pitching’s Greatest Feats” (Unbridled Books), by Dirk Lammers

Spring is almost official, and that means the other season about to start is baseball season. Author Dirk Lammers examines the history of a pitcher’s dream to throw a no-hitter in “Baseball’s No-Hit Wonders: More Than a Century of Pitching’s Greatest Feats.” A perfect game, when no players reach base for the full nine innings, is even rarer, and he looks at those as well. The end result is a fascinating book that will appeal to both the historian and the die-hard fan.

Lammers, an Associated Press journalist, goes all the way back to the beginning to find the first pitcher to throw a no-hitter, who officially was George Washington Bradley of the St. Louis Brown Stockings, who achieved that distinction on July 15, 1876. Joe Borden might have successfully accomplished this feat a year earlier, but records are hard to decipher due to the way statistics were kept at the time. Plus he also played under the alias Joseph E. Josephs, since he didn’t want his parents to know he was playing baseball.

Some of the stories are sad due to the pitcher successfully throwing a no-hitter, yet it still ends up a loss due to the base-on-balls somehow crossing home plate. A game between the Chicago Cubs and the Cincinnati Reds on May 2, 1917, ended after nine innings with both pitchers having thrown a no-hitter. Unfortunately, the 10th inning broke the stalemate for one of the men.

A more recent example, and memorable for the wrong reasons, occurred on June 2, 2010, when Detroit Tigers pitcher Armando Galarraga was one out away from throwing a perfect game against the Cleveland Indians. The next batter hit a ground ball and Galarraga ran over to cover first base. He caught the ball thrown from the first baseman and touched the bag a full step ahead of the runner. The umpire at first base called the runner safe. Replays clearly showed the third out, and Galarraga had pitched a perfect game. Unfortunately, due to the umpire making the safe call, the perfect game was up in smoke. Later, umpire Jim Joyce publicly apologized for blowing the call. While the governor of Michigan declared Galarraga pitched a perfect game, Major League Baseball said no. Both Joyce and Galarraga later wrote a book together about the experience.

Lammers tells many stories covering the history of the sport, showcasing the human element of each statistic. Whether one is a casual fan or someone who lives and breathes the sport, “Baseball’s No-Hit Wonders” is essential reading for fans.