Top 50 Cal Sports Moments – No. 22: Granger's Record

On May 5, 1993, Cal softball pitcher Michele Granger established an NCAA record that may never be broken, and she wasn’t even on the field
Michele Granger
Michele Granger / Cal Athletics

As the Pac-12 Conference era comes to a close after more than a century, we count down the Top 50 moments involving Cal athletics.

THE MOMENT: The instant Cal pushed across the 10th run in the bottom of the fifth inning of a 10-0 softball victory over San Jose State on the afternoon of Wednesday, May 5, 1993, at Cal’s Strawberry Canyon softball field, Bears pitcher Michele Granger established a prestigious NCAA record that may never be broken.  And she wasn’t even on the field at the time.

THE STORY: Sometimes remarkable moments can be identified only in retrospect.  When running back Emmitt Smith carried the ball for the final time in the NFL on Sunday, January 2, 2005, as a member of the Arizona Cardinals, no one paid much attention. Afterall, he lost 2 yards on the play.  But it established the NFL record for rushing yards in a career at 18,355, more than 1,600 yards more than anyone else in history. And with the short pro careers of running backs these days that record is likely to stand for a long time.

Such was the case for Cal’s softball game on May 5, 1993, in Berkeley against San Jose State.  Cal led 9-0 after Bears  pitcher Michele Granger retired the side in order in the top of the fifth inning, and when Cal pushed across a run in the bottom of the fifth to make it 10-0 the game was over by virtue of the mercy rule. Under rules at the time, a team leading by 10 runs or more after five innings is declared the winner and the game is over.  Granger was sitting on the Cal bench at the time, but she had not given up any hits, so that 10th run gave her a no-hitter, albeit a five-inning no-hitter. There was no dramatic strikeout to finish off the no-hitter, just some pats on the back in the dugout when she realized she wouldn’t have to take the field for the sixth inning.

How big a deal was it? The next morning, on a back page of the Oakland Tribune sports section, under the tiny headline “Cal Slams San Jose State” was this opening paragraph:

Berkeley – Freshman shortstop Kendall Richards drove in six runs with a grand slam and a single and senior Michele Granger threw her ninth no-hitter of the season to lead No. 10 California past San Jose State 10-0 Wednesday at Strawberry Field.

The San Francisco Chronicle had no story about Granger’s feat, noting it only with a linescore in tiny type underneath the results of Tour of Spain cycling competition on the agate page.

Today, we recognize Granger’s May 5, 1993, accomplishment as the 25th and last no-hitter of her Cal career.  That remains the NCAA Division I record for career no-hitters, as are the nine no-hitters in a single season.

On February 23, 2023, the NCAA website ran a story with the headline “Here are 9 DI softball records that will (probably) never be broken.” The sixth such record listed was this:

Michele Granger's 25 career no-hitters — February 16, 1989 to May 5, 1993

Time for an equation. What do you get when you add Michele Granger and a piece of pitching rubber? The correct answer is the most no-hitters in NCAA history. Granger pitched in 183 games during her time at California with 119 wins and a career ERA of 0.46 while keeping the base paths clear like few other pitchers. The Golden Bears' ace tossed an NCAA-record 25 no-hitters, including nine in one season, along with five perfect games. Throughout Granger's career, more than 16 percent of her appearances were either a no-hitter or perfect game.

Granger also set the NCAA Division I for career strikeouts, with 1,640 whiffs, but that record has since been broken.  No one has come close to her no-hitter mark.

I guess that makes that tiny linescore in the May 6, 1993 edition of the San Francisco Chronicle rather valuable.

*Top 50 Moment No. 24: McKeever Report, 2022

*Top 50 Moment No. 25: Absent Crowd, 2020

Only specific acts that occurred while the team or athlete was at Cal were considered for the Top 50 list, and accomplishments spanning a season or a career were not included. 

Leslie Mitchell of the Cal Bears History Twitter site aided in the selection of the top 50 moments.

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Jake Curtis

JAKE CURTIS

Jake Curtis worked in the San Francisco Chronicle sports department for 27 years, covering virtually every sport, including numerous Final Fours, several college football national championship games, an NBA Finals, world championship boxing matches and a World Cup. He was a Cal beat writer for many of those years, and won awards for his feature stories.