A Look at Yankee No-Hitters

On Saturday, Yankee pitcher C.C. Sabathia flirted with a no-hitter and came pretty close to achieving that baseball milestone.  He went as far as two outs in the eighth inning, only four outs shy, before Kelly Shoppach got a clean hit for the Tampa Bay Rays.  The last Yankee to tease fans with a potential "no-no" came even closer -- in 2001 Mike Mussina was one strike away from pitching a perfect game against the Boston Red Sox before giving up a hit.  It doesn't get much more gut-wrenching than that.  (Although, don't feel bad for Sabathia or Mussina, at least they won their games -- Andy Hawkins in 1990 didn't give up any hits but still lost the game 4-0 against the Chicago White Sox back in the days when the Yankees could do no right.)

My dad, the eternally optimistic Mets fan, is still waiting to see his Metropolitans pitch a no-hitter.  They haven't had one yet in their entire franchise history.  The New York Yankees, on the other hand, have been fortunate enough to have some very memorable ones.  The most famous was way before my time but tough to beat as the greatest of them all -- Don Larsen's perfect game against the Brooklyn Dodgers in Game 5 of the 1956 World Series.  We haven't seen a no-hitter in post-season play since, and who knows if we ever will?

During my lifetime, here are the Yankee no-hitters that made me cheer.

Dave Righetti in 1984 against the Boston Red Sox - It was the Fourth of July, I was just a kid, but I still remember watching this on TV and thinking there's no way he could do it.  But when he did I was as jubilant as the Bronx Bombers were.  Righetti went on to be a good closer for the Yanks, but whenever I think of him I don't picture his great efforts as a terrific relief pitcher, but rather I recall this game, his arms spread wide when he realizes what he's accomplished, and announcer Bill White's booming voice, "He did it!"

Jim Abbott in 1993 against the Cleveland Indians - Abbott was a true inspiration.  Born without a hand, he still overcame his challenges and became a fine pitcher, and in this game he reached the pinnacle, allowing no hits and proving that anything is possible.  It was like a fairytale story brought to life.

Dwight "Doc" Gooden in 1996 against the Seattle Mariners - Gooden started his career brilliantly with the New York Mets, only to be sidetracked by his own personal demons.  He had a second chance with the Yankees and was part of the Bronx Bombers' return to greatness during their first championship year in along time, the highlight for him being the amazing no hitter he threw in May.  He finally reached the promise of his "Doctor K" youth in spectacular fashion.  Seeing him so exuberant, carried off the field on the shoulders of his teammates, is an image I'll never forget.

David Wells in 1998 against the Minnesota Twins - Looking at Wells, you wouldn't think he would be a great athlete, but he certainly was. He loved being a Yankee and wearing the pinstripes, he idolized Babe Ruth, and he was quite a character off and on the field.  By pitching not only a no hitter but a perfect game, he forever etched himself into Yankee history. 

David Cone in 1999 against the Montreal Expos - Another "David," another former Met, another no-hitter, another perfect game.  This one had all the earmarks of destiny since it took place on "Yogi Berra Day" (Yogi was the catcher for the Yankees during the 1956 perfect game) and guess who was there that day to throw out the first pitch?  None other than Don Larsen himself. 

Yankee haters can whine and moan that Yankee fans are frontrunners and the team buys all its championships, but the truth of the matter is that the incredible history of the franchise and hard-to-believe moments like these are what make diehard Yankee fans root for this team even during years of drought (should they ever come again.)