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Me and My No-Hitter

Aug. 13, 2007
Aug. 13, 2007

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Aug. 13, 2007

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Me and My No-Hitter

With two no-nos tossed this year, four active pitchers recall their own zero hours

KEVIN MILLWOOD
April 27, 2003 in Philadelphia
Phillies 1, Giants 0
LINE: 9 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 3 BB, 10 Ks, 0 HBP

This is an article from the Aug. 13, 2007 issue

Millwood gave the Phillie Phanatic quite a birthday present—the mascot turned 25 that day—and also thrilled the 40,016 fans on hand. "The crowd got into it," recalls Millwood, now with Texas. So did centerfielder Ricky Ledee, who homered in the first inning and made the defensive play of the game, a running, backhanded catch on Marquis Grissom's seventh-inning line drive to right center. Millwood, who nearly lost both the no-hitter and the lead in the second inning, when Jose Cruz Jr. pulled a slider just outside the rightfield foul pole, remembers not being sharp in warmup. "It didn't cross my mind that I had a chance to even shut them out," he says. Among his highlights Millwood ranks the no-hitter behind his one-hitter against Houston in Game 2 of the 1999 NLDS but says fans still want to talk to him about the no-no. It also provides fodder when he's among his peers. "I have some friends who haven't done it," he says, "so I can brag a little."

DEREK LOWE
April 27, 2002 in Boston
Red Sox 10, Devil Rays 0
LINE: 9 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 6 Ks, 0 HBP

Lowe's pregame routine was disrupted—it was Kids' Opening Day and each player was escorted to the field by a child—and he recalls feeling "so out of whack" after walking Brent Abernathy in the third inning that he went to the Red Sox clubhouse to do drills in front of a mirror, trying to fix his mechanics. Good move: Lowe (right) didn't allow another base runner. "It takes luck to throw a no-hitter," says Lowe, now a Dodger. "You have to get 27 guys to hit balls right at people."

Using his signature sinking fastball, Lowe induced 13 groundouts and allowed only five balls out of the infield. Lowe also placed heavy trust in his batterymate. "One of the best things was having Jason Varitek catching me," says Lowe. "I didn't shake him off all game. He was as responsible for that no-hitter as I was." Lowe says fans still remind him of that cool April afternoon. "I can't tell you how many people come up and say they were there," he says. "I'll still sign a ticket stub from that game."

A.J. BURNETT
May 12, 2001 in San Diego
Marlins 3, Padres 0
LINE: 9 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 9 BB, 7 Ks, 1 HBP

In just his 22nd big league start, Burnett kept the Padres out of the hit column—but not off the bases. The righty walked nine, hit a batter and threw a wild pitch. In four innings he allowed two base runners. "Every time I think about [the no-hitter], I want another one," Burnett says. "It was ugly." Yet, said Padre Phil Nevin, the wildness had its virtue: "His fastball was moving so much."

Burnett, now with Toronto, says he didn't consider the no-no a real possibility until the ninth, before which the San Diego fans gave him a standing O. "It was warm and welcome," he says. "I stepped off the mound, looked up, smiled and said, I'm going to do this." Burnett then retired the side in order for only the third time, leading to an on-field celebration that's now a blur. Says Burnett, "[All] I know [is] I got bear-hugged by another man."

DAVID WELLS
May 17, 1998, in New York
Yankees 4, Twins 0
LINE: 9 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 11 Ks, 0 HBP

Wells had been at a Saturday Night Live party until 5:30 a. m. and was so shoddy in warmup that he says he hurled a ball out of Yankee Stadium in disgust. Yet he says he was aware of his perfect game from the first pitch and, had he needed a reminder, his teammates stuck to superstition. "I tried talking to guys in the dugout," says Wells, now a Padre. "They parted like the Red Sea." Except pitcher David Cone. "Before the eighth, Cone looked at me and said 'Throw the knuckleball,'" Wells recalls. "In the ninth, I looked in the dugout and David was bundled up like it was April. I owe David. Because of him, I wasn't concentrating solely on the situation. I was thinking, What is with this guy?" Wells, who thanked his teammates with diamond rings, adds, "I've made a lot of money from that game; it got me out there. Letterman. Regis and Kathy Lee. It doesn't hurt to throw a perfect game in Yankee Stadium."

PHOTORON JENKINS/FORT WORTH STAR-TELEGRAM/KRT/ABACAUSA.COM (MILLWOOD HEAD SHOT)PHOTORICK SILVA/AP (LOWE HEAD SHOT)PHOTOFRANK GUNN/CP/AP (BURNETT HEAD SHOT)PHOTOELAINE THOMPSON/AP (WELLS HEAD SHOT)PHOTOJOHN DUNN/AP (WELLS CELEBRATING)PHOTOJ T LOVETTE/REUTERS (BURNETT CELEBRATING)PHOTONEAL HAMBERG/AP (LOWE CELEBRATING)PHOTOAP (MILLWOOD CELEBRATING)