In case you have not noticed I am an “Old School” baseball guy.
Now for those of you who may be unaware as to just what that means, it can be summed up in the following six statements:
1. I understand and love stats and playing the odds however there are times when all of the percentages should be thrown out the window and a player/manager simply must follow his gut.
2. I know that “chicks dig the long ball” and I love watching a baseball rocket of the bat of a hitter as much as the next guy or even any “chick”, however, nothing, NOTHING matches an old fashion pitching duel. There is nothing like a baseball game in which the game rides on EVERY pitch.
3. The games all time greats would be all time greats no matter when and in what era they played!
4. Good pitching will beat good hitting!
Sandy Koufax was one of the most dominant pitchers in the game’s history.
5. A pitching duel will bring people to the park, a great hitter will keep people in the park. Huh? People will buy tickets to see a great pitching matchup, people will stay in the park to see a great hitter come to bat one more time.
On July 2, 1963 Juan Marichal and Warren Spahn hooked up in a game that went 16 innings. The Giants beat Spahn and the Braves 1-0 on a home run by Willie Mays in the bottom of the 16th. Both pitchers went the distance.
6. There is nothing as aesthetically beautiful, on a baseball diamond, as a pitcher dominating a game.
All that said, I wrote a few days ago about no-hitters at Fenway Park. Red Sox pitchers have hurled 18 no-hitters in their history, eight of them coming at Fenway Park. They have been no-hit by their opponents 12 times, four times at Fenway.
Senator Jim Bunning was the last opponent to no-hit the Red Sox at Fenway Park, July 20, 1958.
As rare as a no-hitter has been at Fenway Park you might be surprised to learn that there are pitching occurrences which are even more rare and they all began with this man,
Jack Harshman pitched eight games for the Red Sox in 1959.
Who? I know you, in all probability, never heard of him. However, on July 25, 1954, while pitching for the White Sox, he became the first pitcher in Fenway Park history to strikeout more than 15 batters in a game at Fenway. He fanned 16 Red Sox in the first game of a double-header.
Red Sox pitchers have struck out more than 15 batters in a game at Fenway Park only five times! Five times! I wonder if any of you know when the first time it happened. It was not all that long ago and this is the guy who did it!
Roger Clemens struck out 20 Seattle Mariners at Fenway Park on April 29, 1986.
Ten years later, in Detroit, Clemens duplicated this feat striking out 20 Tigers in the departed Tiger Stadium. Twenty strikeouts in a nine inning game has occurred on but four occasions in the long history of the game; Clemens owns half of them! And as Clemens remains embroiled in his steroid controversy, these two phenomenal games took place before he met his alleged juice man while pitching for Toronto.
“The Rocket” also had a 16 strikeout game at Fenway which came in July of 1988 against the Royals. So he not only owns half of the 20 strikeout games in baseball history, he owns 40% of the 16+ strikeout games by a Red Sox pitcher at Fenway as well.
The other three belong to guess who?
Four times while pitching for the Red Sox Pedro Martinez punched out more than 15 batters in a game, three of those games came at Fenway Park. He struck out 16 Braves in June of 1999, 17 Devil Rays in May of 2000 and 17 Devil Rays again in April of 2001. Pedro averaged 10.95 strikeouts per nine innings while he called Fenway Park his home. No one in Red Sox history has done it better!
The man who held the Red Sox record for strikeouts in a game before Clemens rewrote baseball history was this guy,
It was May 12, 1961, I was eight years old and this was the first year that I really started to pay attention. On this particular Friday night that meant listening to “Monbo” mow down the Washington Senators in Washington. I lay in bed listening to Curt Gowdy and Ned Martin tell me about one strikeout after another and when it was over, 17 Senators had gone down on strikes and the Red Sox and “Monbo” had a 2-1 win. It remains to this day, the best game I have ever heard!
Besides Jack Harshman, there are two other visiting pitchers who have reached the 16 strikeout plateau at Fenway Park. Nolan Ryan sent down 16 Red Sox in July of 1972 and Roger Clemens did the same in July of ’97’ while pitching for the Blue Jays.
Roger Clemens is the only pitcher to strikeout more than 15 in a Fenway Park game wearing two different uniforms.
Those of you heading to Fenway tonight are twice as likely to see Daniel Bard pitch a no-hitter as you are to see him punch out 16 Oakland A’s. For it is a short list of legendary names who have struck out more than 15 batters in a game at Fenway Park, Nolan Ryan, Roger Clemens, Pedro Martinez, names of which tales will be told and yarns will be spun for as long as the game is played. Oh, and then there’s Jack Harshman!
God do I love this game!
And so it is on this date in Fenway Park history, May 2, 2012.