Today’s the 55th anniversary of the first no hitter in San Francisco Giants history, pitched by The Dominican Dandy, Juan Marichal, against the Houston Colt .45’s at Candlestick Park. The final score was 1-0, meaning everyone in attendance had to deal with a stiff breeze and frayed nerves.
Besides being the first no hitter in San Francisco history, it was the first in nearly 34 years of Giants franchise history. Carl Hubbell had pitched the one prior to Marichal’s in May 1929, an 11-0 win against the Pirates. That’s ho hum as far as no hitters are concerned.
The 1-0 no hitter (or perfect game) has to be the best version of a no hitter because of the degree of difficulty: a single hit could cost you a no hitter and a win. And in the case of this particular game 55 years ago, the Colt .45’s opposing pitcher, Dick Drott (they certainly do not name them like this anymore), had 7 shutout innings of 1-hit ball to his credit before the Giants hit a pair of doubles in the 8th inning to score their sole run.
As for Marichal, 1963 was only the fifth-best season of his career by ERA+, despite winning 25 and throwing 321.1 innings. And this no hitter wasn’t even his best accomplishment of the season or his career! Seventeen days after blanking the Colt .45’s, he shutout the Milwaukee Braves for 16 innings. That game, you may recall, has been considered the greatest baseball game ever played. Grant wrote about it here on the 50th anniversary.
A truly remarkable career and an engaging interview. The Giants had a lot of success after moving west, and a lot of it had to do with how he could throw a baseball. Here’s a really brief career overview from the Baseball Hall of Fame (voiced by the absolute nerdiest sounding nerd you’ll ever hear):
He explains why he never won a Cy Young Award in this interview with Bob Costas:
And here he is pitching in the 1968 All-Star Game. Look at that pace of play!
We don’t see pitchers like this anymore for various reasons. The only recent pitcher to come close in terms of style and result is probably Timothy Leroy Lincecum. And, of course, the most recent pitcher to duplicate Marichal’s 55-year old feat was Chris Heston, who no hit the Mets on June 9, 2015.
Marichal to Heston, with plenty more amazing feats in between. We are a spoiled bunch.