OBSERVATIONS: When a no-hitter is not a no-hitter

By Hal McCoy

UNSOLICITED OBSERVATIONS from The Man Cave, tan and exhausted after a week on St. Simons Island, Ga., one of our country’s hidden gems.

~When the Cincinnati Reds held the Pittsburgh Pirates to no hits last week and lost, 1-0, the knee-jerk reaction is, “Who else but the 2022 Reds? They find every imaginable bizarre ways to lose baseball games.”

They can’t even pitch a quasi no-hitter and win. Sometimes the way they lose make your brown eyes turn blue.

But take a look through those blue eyes. Since starting the season 3-22, the Reds have won eight of 12. Yes, four came against the Pittsburgh Pirates and two against the Cleveland – – – – dians, but you have to scramble off the ground before you run.

The no-no that is not an official no-no brought back memories to all us octogenarians, zipping us back to 1964 when the Reds won a game, 1-0, when they produced no hits. It was against Houston and it was former Reds pitcher Ken Johnson who didn’t give up a hit.

Johnson’s opposing pitcher was Joe Nuxhall and Nuxy threw a five-hit shutout.

Pete Rose bunted with one out in the ninth and reached second on Johnson’s throwing error. With two outs, Vada Pinson hit a routine ground ball to second baseman Nellie Fox. He booted it as Rose scored the game’s only run. After the game, Johnson wanted the game ball as a keepsake, but Nuxhall refused to give it up and took it home.

~Has there ever been a player hitting .122 who owns so much anticipation for his return from the injured list? Joey Votto returns to the Reds tonight in Toronto, his hometown.

~Believe this or be skeptical, but it is legend in Puerto Rico. A player named Pancho Coimbre played four years in the professional Liga de Beisbol and never struck out. Not once. From 1939 through the 1942 season he never struck out.

Most players these days can’t go two games without striking out. . .two or three times.

~Speaking of strikeouts, there are two things everybody knows about Hall of Fame catcher Yogi Berra. . .he said some outrageously hilarious things and he swung at everything when he batted — balls over his head, balls in the dirt, and balls on which announcer Harry Doyle would say in the movie Major League, “Just a bit outside.”

In 1950, Berra hit 28 homers, drove in 124 runs, scored 116 runs, caught 148 games and incredibly struck out 12 times all season.

~QUOTE: One of the many Yogi Berra ‘Yogi-isms: “Why buy good luggage? You only use it when you travel.” (For those who are frugal, that one actually makes sense.)

But this one? “I usually take a two-hour nap from 1 to 4.” (So, he overslept?)

~Something I already knew but never thought about until I read Joe Posnanski’s wonderful must- read book, ‘The Baseball 100.’

With the exception of golf and its different length holes and NASCAR with different configurations of tracks, baseball is the only sport where the dimensions differ in every park. All basketball courts are the same, as are football fields, soccer pitches, hockey reinks and bowling lanes.

This hit home with two of baseball’s most iconic plays in the old Polo Grounds.

Bobby Thomson’s shot heard ‘round the world, a walk-off home run in 1951 against the Dodgers that put the Giants into the World Series, was pulled down the line in left field, 279 feet. It would not have been a home run in any other major league park. If he had hit it to center field, it would have been a routine pop fly.

Now, fast-forward to the 1954 World Series. Cleveland’s Vic Wertz blasted one 440 feet to dead center, the famous Willie Mays back-to-the infield catch. The center field wall in the Polo Grounds was 457 feet. It would have been a home run in any other major league park. If Wertz had pulled it, it would have landed in the Harlem River.

What is it Marty Brennaman used to say: “That’s a big ol’ hang with em.”

~Is anybody else not watching the NBA playoffs? How about the NHL?

While we were in St. Simons Island, our neighbors in the next beach house were screaming and hollering. There was cussing and pounding, sounding like a bar fight.

A St. Simons police car pulled into our driveway as seven of us, all over between 70 and 81, sat quietly in rocking chairs. Not a peep trying to stay awake at 9:30.

“I’ve got a citizen’s complaint about excessive noise here,” the officer said.

We pointed next door and said, “Over there.”

Turns out there was a gentleman from Toronto and they were watching Game 7 of the Maple Leafs-Tampa Bay Lightning playoffs.

The Maple Leafs lost and our Canadian neighbor was not happy. The cop apologized to us and said he just warned the Maple Leafs fan, even though the officer said he is a Tampa Bay fan.

~If you’re ever in St. Simons Island, Ga., I’m putting on my Frank Bruni food critic’s hat to offer some culinary advice:

^BREAKFAST: Palmer House.

^LUNCH: The Porch, Frosty’s.

^DINNER: Half Shell (The crab bisque is scrumptious), Trimici’s (Italian), Georgia Sea Grill (Love their scallops), Crabdaddy’s (Try the shrimp and grits), Fiddler’s (Corn fritters are delightful), Echo (For a great ocean view, food is disappointing).

~While on vacation I saw the dolphins, and I don’t mean the ones that always lose to the New Orleans Saints.

I mean the bottle-nosed dolphins off the coast of Jekyll Island. You haven’t seen anything until you see bottle-nosed dolphins mating. I was polite and looked away.

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