Monday, June 3, 2013

Andy Hawkins The Yankee Who Pitched a No Hitter and Lost

This post was inspired by a comment made by my friend Russ. We were talking about being realistic about the Yankees' chances this season after talking about my last post The State of The Yankees Entering June. Now the comment he made was as so:
You know I love my team, win or lose. If Andy Hawkins pitching a no-hitter and losing couldn't drive me away, nothing can. It's just a question of being realistic
Now that got me thinking. I remember that no hitter by Hawkins. So I decided to go back in time and take a look at that particular game.

As Russ also stated, that was the first no-hitter since Dave Righetti's July 4th no-hitter in 1983. That 1990 season was definitely not one for the ages for the New York Yankees. The Yankees finished the 1990 season with a 67-95 record finishing 7th and dead last in the AL East 21 games out of first place. Now Andy Hawkins joined the Yankees as a free-agent during the 1988 offseason and was a respectable 15-15 with a 4.80 ERA in his first season in the American League (1989). Hawkins had pitched his first seven seasons with the San Diego Padres. The 1990 season was one that Hawkins sure would want to forget. He would finish the 1990 season with a 5-12 record with 5.37 ERA. This is the season of the loss during his only no-hitter.

The game was on Sunday July 1 and the opponent for the Yankees were the Chicago White Sox. Opposing the Yankees was pitcher Greg Hibbard. Here is how Michael Martinez in his article No-Hitter, but With No Glory of the New York Times describes the game up to the moment of truth for Hawkins:
The Yankees were almost no-hit themselves. Greg Hibbard, the starting pitcher for the White Sox, retired the first 16 batters he faced before Bob Geren reached base on an infield hit in the sixth. Hawkins, meantime, set down the first 14 White Sox hitters, walked two and opened the eighth by getting Ron Karkovice and Scott Fletcher to hit pop flies.
With two outs in the top of the 8th Sammy Sosa (yes, THAT Sammy Sosa) grounded to 3B Mike Blowers who dropped the ball causing Sosa to reach base. Andy Hawkins wouldn't help his cause by consecutively walking Ozzie Guillen and Lance Johnson. Up to the plate came Robin Ventura.

It would seem that Hawkins would get out of the inning unscathed when he got Ventura to fly out to rookie left fielder Jim Leyritz. But knowing how the season would end for the Yankees in 1990, it was not to be. With the runners on the move with two outs, Leyritz would end up dropping the ball causing all three runners to score. With the score 3-0 and the no-hitter still intact, Ventura would score when a fly ball by White Sox slugger Ivan Calderon was lost in the sun by Yankee right fielder Jesse Barfield. In total, 2 walks and 3 Yankee errors in the bottom of the 8th inning were the difference in the game. For Hawkins would indeed a bitter achievement since he would have thrown a no-hitter but be hung for the loss. Here is how Hawkins described it:
''I'm stunned; I really am,'' he said, still standing on the field. ''This is not even close to the way I envisioned a no-hitter would be. You dream of one, but you never think it's going to be a loss. You think of Stewart and Fernando, coming off the field in jubilation. Not this.''
The reference to Stewart and Fernando? Dave Stewart and Fernando Valenzuela threw WINNING no-hitters on the same day, 48 hours before Hawkins pitched his. But Hawkins wasn't alone.

At that point there had been 13 other no-hitters for losses, the last one before that one being in 1967. Here is the salt being rubbed in the proverbial wound. According to the Major League Baseball rules on no-hitters:
An official no-hit game occurs when a pitcher (or pitchers) allows no hits during the entire course of a game, which consists of at least nine innings. In a no-hit game, a batter may reach base via a walk, an error, a hit by pitch, a passed ball or wild pitch on strike three, or catcher's interference.
Since the Yankees were on the road at Comiskey Field and on the losing end of the score, Hawkins never got to pitch the 9th inning thus invalidating his no-hitter. How's that for bad luck. Hawkins would pitch half of the 1991 season with the Yankees before being released and pick up by the Oakland A's. He would finish his career after that same season.

That is some of the stuff us older Yankee fans went through before the current stretch of successful Yankee seasons. Thanks again to Russ for the inspiration for the post.

Sisco Kid

For Further Reading
- Click Here to Access Andy Hawkins' career statistics from Baseball Reference.com
- Click Here to Access Michael Martinez's article No-Hitter, but With No Glory from the New York Times dated July 2, 1990 from NYTimes.com
- Click Here to Access the Box Score for the July 1, 1990 game against the New York Yankees and the Chicago White Sox from BaseballReference.com
- Click Here to Access the official Major League Baseball Rules from the MLB.com