Taking the Fifth

April 23, 2007
April 23, 2007

Table of Contents
April 23, 2007

SI Bonus Section: Golf Plus
Cover Story

Taking the Fifth

A Texas lefty learns what a quintet of no-hitters can do for a young hurler's career

Memphis, Texas

This is an article from the April 23, 2007 issue Original Layout

IN THE Texaspanhandle town of Memphis, with a population of barely 2,000, Colt Molloy beganplaying T-ball at age three. By the time he started grade school, his throwshad enough gusto to bruise the palm of the woman who played catch with him atthe day-care center. At age 13 Molloy, who idolizes Nolan Ryan, was so eager topractice that he built a pitching mound in his backyard, exactly to high schoolspecifications. "I spent days trying to get it perfect," says Molloy,whose parents operate a hunting lodge. "I was hauling wheelbarrows halfwayacross the pasture to my backyard." He became a freshman starter forMemphis High varsity baseball and quarterbacked the football team—althoughafter practice he would walk to the school's diamond and work on pitching.

All thatdedication paid off in his senior baseball season: In his first five startsMolloy was unhittable—literally. His five consecutive no-hitters set a staterecord and fell one short of the national high school mark. In those games hewalked nine and struck out 64. Says Molloy, who last season was 5--3 with a1.86 ERA, "I've been blessed this year."

Though his35-inning no-hit streak ended on April 3 when he gave up a fourth-inning singleto Clay Greenwalt of Shamrock High, the good news didn't. The next day theschool's athletic director, Jerry Young, brought Molloy into his office andplayed a voice mail from a New York Yankees scout asking about the pitcher."Oh, man, my dreams are coming true," said the 5'10", 185-poundMolloy, who with his mid-80s fastball had previously only attracted attentionfrom a few junior colleges. The streak, says Memphis coach Pat Yarbrough, haschanged that. "[Recruiters] want to know more about this Molloy kid."Junior college interest has increased, and bigger schools such as Texas Stateand Hardin-Simmons are now in the mix. Molloy, who has been spotting hispitches better this year for Memphis's 11--0 team, couldn't be happier."All I've ever talked about is wanting to play baseball."

The Two Who Threw Six

THE ONLY PITCHERS to have thrown more consecutive highschool no-hitters than Colt Molloy are Chris Taranto of Notre Dame (Biloxi,Miss.) and Tom Engle of Fairfield Union (Lancaster, Ohio), who share the recordwith six. In neither case was it the start of something big: Taranto (left),who set the record in 1961 as a senior, signed with the Houston Colt .45s aftergraduation, but he was out of baseball by '63 with persistent arm soreness.Engle, a Mets second-round pick in '89, the year he got the six-pack, playedeight seasons in the minors, peaking in '95 with Triple A Norfolk. But twoTommy John surgeries ended the righty's career. Engle went back to school,studying broadcast communications at Ohio State, and is now a producer at ESPN,working primarily on golf features and the football edition of College Gameday.Engle says people still ask him about the streak all the time. "As Irecall," he says, "it was pretty cool."


PHOTOROBIN O'SHAUGHNESSY/AMARILLO GLOBE-NEWS (MOLLOY)COLT'S 35 The hitless innings set a state record and prompted a Yankees scout to callPHOTOCOURTESY OF NOTRE DAME HIGH SCHOOL (TARANTO)