Being No-Hit: A Curse or a Blessing in Disguise?

In the modern era of baseball, there has been a rich history of no-hitters thrown by a number of pitchers. Some of these pitchers have been the expected greats like Nolan Ryan, Sandy Koufax, Billy Wagner, Vida Blue, Gaylord Perry, Justin Verlander, Roy Halladay, and Randy Johnson. But sometimes you get the guys that just have a little luck on their side. The no-hitters in this article will not have any games by Koufax or Verlander*, and maybe that is a good thing. Because the teams that were no-hit in this article, went on to the postseason.

There are a total of 240 no-hitters in the modern era (since 1901), the most recent being on Sunday, May 25, 2014 when Josh Beckett of the Los Angeles Dodgers no-hit the Philadelphia Phillies at Citizens Bank Park. Of course, we do not know if the Phillies will go on to the postseason this year, but we know the race in the National League East is tight and there is still plenty of time. Out of the other 239 teams to be no-hit, 29 have gone on to the postseason that same year, and two of the 239 teams were no-hit in the postseason.

Every team in Major League Baseball has been no-hit, but the San Diego Padres franchise has not had a pitcher throw a no-hitter. There are 12 franchises that have not reached the postseason the same year their team has been no-hit. Only seven franchises have reached the promised land multiple times after being no-hit that year. Three franchises have seen the playoffs after being on the opposite side of a perfect game. Two franchises saw the postseason after a combined no-hit attack.

Don Larson and Roy Halladay are the only two pitchers in MLB history to throw postseason no-hitters. Larson threw a perfect game in the World Series against the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1956. The Dodgers would eventually lose the series to the New York Yankees in seven games. Halladay threw a no-hitter in game one of the National League Division Series against the Cincinnati Reds in 2010. It was his second no-hitter of the season; his first was a perfect game. The Reds would lose the series without a win.

Out of the 29 teams to reach the postseason after being no-hit in the regular season, 11 won the World Series, three lost the World Series, eight lost in the League Championship Series, and seven lost in the League Division Series. So what does all this mean? Absolutely nothing. Being no-hit is not a curse. It is not a good luck charm either. Baseball is a game of chance. It is a game of opportunity. If the catcher is calling a good game and the defense is playing well together, the pitcher has good stuff, and the batters are not finding holes, there is a chance a no-hitter is going to happen. But baseball is also a game of adjustments. It is difficult to accomplish this feat.

Nonetheless, for a team to be no-hit and still make the postseason that year is an accomplishment of it’s own. I mean, only 29 out of 240 teams have done it so far. So who are those teams, you ask?

Here is the chart I have developed showing those teams:

Season Franchise Date No-Hit Opposing Pitcher(s) & Team Postseason Outcome
1917 Chicago White Sox 05/05/17 Ernie Koob, St Louis Browns Won WS vs New York Giants
1917 Chicago White Sox 05/06/17 Bob Groom, St Louis Browns Won WS vs New York Giants
1940 Cincinnati Reds 04/30/40 Tex Carleton, Brooklyn Dodgers Won WS vs Detroit Tigers
1952 New York Yankees 08/25/52 Virgil Trucks, Detroit Tigers Won WS vs Brooklyn Dodgers
1958 New York Yankees 09/20/58 Hoyt Wilhelm, Baltimore Orioles Won WS vs Milwaukee Braves
1968 St Louis Cardinals 09/17/68 Gaylord Perry, San Francisco Giants Lost WS to Detroit Tigers
1969 Atlanta Braves 08/19/69 Ken Holtzman, Chicago Cubs Lost NLCS to New York Mets
1969 New York Mets 09/20/69 Bob Moose, Pittsburgh Pirates Won WS vs Baltimore Orioles
1970 Minnesota Twins 09/21/70 Vida Blue, Oakland Athletics Lost ALCS to Baltimore Orioles
1971 Pittsburgh Pirates 08/14/71 Bob Gibson, St Louis Cardinals Won WS vs Baltimore Orioles
1973 Oakland Athletics 07/30/73 Jim Bibby, Texas Rangers Won WS vs New York Mets
1974 Oakland Athletics 07/19/74 Dick Bosman, Cleveland Indians Won WS vs Los Angeles Dodgers
1978 Philadelphia Phillies 04/16/78 Bob Forsch, St Louis Cardinals Lost NLCS to Los Angeles Dodgers
1981 Los Angeles Dodgers 09/26/81 Nolan Ryan, Houston Astros Won WS vs New York Yankees
1983 Chicago White Sox 09/29/83 Mike Warren, Oakland Athletics Lost ALCS to Baltimore Orioles
1986 Los Angeles Angeles of Anaheim 09/19/86 Joe Cowley, Chicago White Sox Lost ALCS to Boston Red Sox
1988 Los Angeles Dodgers 09/16/88 Tom Browning (perfect game), Cincinnati Reds Won WS vs Oakland Athletics
1990 Oakland Athletics 06/11/90 Nolan Ryan, Texas Rangers Lost WS to Cincinnati Reds
1991 Toronto Blue Jays 05/01/91 Nolan Ryan, Texas Rangers Lost ALCS to Minnesota Twins
1997 San Francisco Giants 06/10/97 Kevin Brown, Florida Marlins Lost NLDS to Florida Marlins
1997 Houston Astros 07/12/97 Francisco Cordova, Ricardo Rincon (combined), Pittsburgh Pirates Lost NLDS to Atlanta Braves
1999 Arizona Diamondbacks 06/25/99 Jose Jimenez, St Louis Cardinals Lost NLDS to New York Mets
2003 San Francisco Giants 04/27/03 Kevin Milwood, Philadelphia Phillies Lost NLDS to Florida Marlins
2003 New York Yankees 06/11/03 Billy Wagner, Octavio Dotel, Pete Munro, Roy Oswalt, Brad Lidge, Kirk Saarloos (combined), Houston Astros Lost WS to Florida Marlins
2004 Atlanta Braves 05/18/04 Randy Johnson (perfect game), Arizona Diamondbacks Lost NLDS to Houston Astros
2010 Atlanta Braves 04/17/10 Ubaldo Jimenez, Colorado Rockies Lost NLDS to San Francisco Giants
2010 Tampa Bay Rays 05/09/10 Dallas Braden (perfect game), Oakland Athletics Lost ALDS to Texas Rangers
2012 St Louis Cardinals 06/01/12 Johan Santana, New York Mets Lost NLCS to San Francisco Giants
2013 Detroit Tigers 09/29/13 Henderson Alvarez, Miami Marlins Lost ALCS to Boston Red Sox


What do these teams have in common other than being no-hit? The guys that made up these teams never gave up. They were determined and took every game as a new game, a chance to start fresh. Each pitch was a chance to make an adjustment. They studied the game, they learned from mistakes. Some of these teams had already clinched a playoff spot before being no-hit, but the feeling is the same. What the team learns from the experience is larger than the game itself.

*Justin Verlander was the starting pitcher for the Detroit Tigers on September 29, 2013.

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