Burt's No-Hooter; the Class of '72

baseball cardOn April 16, 1972 I was about six weeks shy of high school graduation. It was a Sunday and that afternoon I was hanging out at Pete’s West End Super Service, a gas station down the street from a buddy’s house.


Pete was a chain-smoking, leathery old Cub fan who wore a cap like the ones cops wear. It had a DX patch embroidered on the front. The Cub games always blared from a tabletop radio in the garage bay. Des Moines didn’t have an affiliate station on the Cub radio network then, so we took what we could get through the static beaming from the WGN flagship.


My pal, a devout Cardinal disciple at the time, would later become both a Cub fan and a Catholic priest. Given some of the ways he and I misspent our youth together it’s hard to say which of his epiphanies was the unlikeliest.


The baseball season had gotten off to a late start, taking a called strike from the players’ union that lasted about two weeks. That day’s game at Wrigley Field against the Phillies was only the Cubs’ second of the year. It was cold with a stiff wind blowing at the pitchers’ backs. Fewer than 10,000 had bothered to show up.


On the mound was Burt Hooton, making just the fourth start of a big league career that would eventually feature 151 wins, among other numbers. Drafted the summer before out of the University of Texas, Hooton had sparkled in Triple A when the Cubs’ outpost at that level was in Tacoma, still a decade and half a continent away from Des Moines.


So impressive was Hooton in his first professional summer that he was called up to Chicago in September of 1971 to make three starts. In one of them he fanned 15; in the last of them he shutout Tom Seaver and the Mets.


Hooton wasn’t particularly sharp this time. He ended up walking seven. But when he carried a no-hitter deep into the game, Pete was bug-eyed, the way he always got when the games were dramatic. I can remember times when a ding-ding would signal that a customer had driven up to the pumps at a crucial moment in a game and Pete would mumble a cuss before sticking his head out the door and waving them away, hollering his apologetic explanation as to the circumstances. It was a luxury he could afford as the hub of the neighborhood, even in those days before self-service became the norm.


When the last two Phillies struck out and the rookie’s no-hitter was accomplished, all of us Cub fans at Pete’s, both young and old, figured we were really onto something…


Saturday night, 39 years later, Hooton was in Des Moines as the pitching coach for the Oklahoma City Redhawks. The crowd topped the one in attendance that long-ago day at Wrigley Field. It was quite a bit warmer too. Hooton’s memories of that particular game are as depreciated as he and I.


“I remember Kessinger made a great play, leaping to grab a line drive. I don’t remember who hit it, though. Luzinski crushed one that shoulda been on the street but the wind blew it back and Monday caught it against the vines.”


When I told him that an account I read credited Billy Williams with a sparkling play he couldn’t recall it, but he was quick to acknowledge that defense was maybe more responsible for the no-no than he was, noting that he walked as many as he fanned. What about his pitch count, I wanted to know. One archive attributed 120 pitches to him on a cold day in his first start of the season.


“Nobody knew how many pitches I threw,” he said, “because nobody kept track.”


Was there any talk with Leo Durocher or pitching coach Larry Jansen about pulling a young phenom with a no-hitter working as a precautionary measure? None that Hooton remembers, but he does have some memories about the general way the Cubs handled him before eventually shipping him to the Dodgers.


“When I came to the big leagues I threw a four-seam fastball, a curveball [his ballyhooed “knuckle-curve” which he claims was accidentally discovered while experimenting with grips playing catch, the way lots of pitchers’ pitches are, he says] and a changeup. I started off pretty well with those, but in three and a half years with the Cubs I had four pitching coaches and they all said I needed to throw a sinker and a slider. The problem was, I listened to ‘em. Then I got traded to the Dodgers and the best coach I ever had [Red Adams] who told me to go back to what got me there in the first place and I won 18 games that year.”


Not surprisingly, Hooton’s philosophy now as a coach reflects Adams’ influence.


“A lot of these guys today have been coached and supervised too much and I end up kind of deconstructing them back to basics. They don’t know who Hank Aaron was but they know all about radar guns and pitch counts which are the two worst things that ever happened, if you ask me.”


Any other thoughts about how the game has changed?


“The quality of baseball in Triple A ain’t what it used to be. Hell, Rick Sutcliffe was pitcher-of-the year three straight times in this league. Think about that.”


I did think about it. I even looked it up and it couldn’t possibly have happened since Sutcliffe only played two seasons for Albuquerque, one of them rather poorly, before joining the Dodgers in 1979 and becoming Rookie-of-the-Year. I wish it had been true though, since Hooton seemed generally to be of the same old-school mind I am about bygone days.


But he was right about the last thing I asked him. What happened in his second start of 1972?


“We got beat by Seaver, 2-0. I pitched better that day then I did in the no-hitter.”


 


 

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Comments

Great memory, thanks for sharing. I was playing monopoly with my brother while we were watching the game and he wanted to quit and go outside to play. I wouldn't let him quit because I thought it would jinx the no-hitter. We kept playing and Hooton got the no-no.

who won the monopoly game?

vs. Halladay

Fukudome RF, Castro SS, Ramirez 3B, Peña 1B, Byrd CF, Soriano LF, Hill C, Barney 2B, Lopez P

this one should be fun...ugg.

Just another bite of the old shit sandwich...

tales from the crypt: 1] yesterday, driving in the cemetery w/ 14 yr. old daughter, saw a name on a big headstone that i've only seen in one other context previously: QUADE...2] hendry in town for next 3 games; maybe we can compare notes on new batch of i-cubs [b-jax, et. al]...

Was there a Hendry tombstone too?

http://espn.go.com/blog/chicago/cubs/post/_/i...

See this? Levine claims that Ramirez's 2012 year does NOT kick in automatically if he is traded... First time I have heard anyone claim this... Is there any merit to this?

if that's the case i like his chances of being traded a whole lot more.

i know he says he doesn't want to go, but honestly...if it's a legit contender i could see him changing his mind. he probably doesn't want to go through the hassle to end up somewhere like...back in PIT or some other fringe team type of trade. this is speculation, btw...just saying.

also claims he's a first baseman...

ha!

From Levine's article:

"Ramirez has been on record that he won’t waive the no-trade clause in his contract, however, there are rumblings that he may change his mind and accept a deal to a Midwest or East Coast team around the time his family returns to the Dominican Republic on Aug. 10."

---

After the trade deadline, and requiring all players involved to clear waivers.

Ramirez seems like he'd clear waivers pretty easily, nobody seems willing to take on his $16M option next year. And I would guess that being picked up through waivers like that, would technically constitute a trade.

Submitted by Rob G. on Mon, 07/18/2011 - 4:05pm.
Ramirez seems like he'd clear waivers pretty easily, nobody seems willing to take on his $16M option next year. And I would guess that being picked up through waivers like that, would technically constitute a trade.

=======================================

ROB G: Yes.

A waiver claim is considered an "assignment" to another club, which is the same as a trade as far as NTC go.

Wouldn't that then be the perfect reason to claim him? If you know he won't waive his no trade clause to join your team, you claim him to prevent him from clearing waivers and potentially waiving his no trade clause and joining a contender. But I don't know exactly how all of that works.

I suppose, risky bet though by a team if he suddenly decides that that he does want it picked up.

The Rays called up Robinson Chirinos today.

catcher got hurt yesterday for them, Chirinios was having a nice July in 43 PA's, more HR's (3) than he had all season (2)

he's starting tonight...batting 8th and catching AAA-to-majors-to-AAA whipping boy a.cobb. at least he's caught him before.

1st ab...double.

yanks need new area scouts. setting up c.granderson mega-shallow (with no one on) in CF as if chirinininosnososos is a singles-hitting middle IF'r...okay, sure.

just as burt hooton said they would!

Phil Bourbon Rogers has Z and Aram heading to Tigers

http://www.chicagotribune.com/sports/baseball...

.... and in the first paragraph of this article, Bourbon Phil contradicts what Levine says in the article I posted up above... Which one of them is right?

Just say no to the Inge Bridge.

inge is owed like 6m next season...it's a stupid article

-edit- 5.5m owed. rogers does theorize Z being shifted in this trade, too. i find the assumptions of the trade proposal more crazy than the money involved.

so we know for sure neither will be going to the Tigers now...

Can anybody remember a team, that will probably be 25 games under .500 by the deadline, having 5-6 players that contending teams are looking to grab.

Aram
Z
Pena
Byrd
Fuku
Dempster
Marmol

I don't believe that Grabow crap.

You can probably add Marshall, Baker, and Johnson to the list, and possibly Wood.

Not so sure that teams are after Byrd or Fukudome though.

Interesting point. If teams are interested, it appears that interest may not lead to the action you would expect. Aram is going back and forth on waiving his no-trade. Z, Dempster and Wood likely will not waive this. Hendry seems not to want to trade Baker and (a move I agree with) Garza. I don't believe that teams are actually interested in Byrd and Fukudome.

So it seems we could trade Marshall, Marmol and Pena. I doubt we could get adequate value for Marmol right now.

Assuming we don't give Marmol away, that means (from that long list and additions thereto), we are likely to be offering just Pena and Marshall. And I don't think Hendry wants to trade Marsahll (also not a bad move)...so then just Pena.

hendry's stated he's not prone to trade marshall, too.

reed johnson is probably been looked at by multiple clubs.

Left-leaning Braves could use either/both of Reed Johnson/Jeff Baker.

Hendry doesn't want to trade Pena, otherwise who would tell him daily that he looks marvelous?

"I'm becoming a big fan of replay and I don't give a damn if the game takes one more hour." - Quade on the amount of missed ump calls

ha.

Luckily, he won't have to worry about it next year.

im just glad he figured out that d.barney isn't a great #2 hitter, s.castro isn't a great #3 hitter, and g.soto doesn't need to be buried in the 8 slot all the time.

he played around too much with his lineups earlier in the season, imo.

Dempster's putrid April didn't help matters either.

Miles shot down the 2012 Ramirez option stuff as well, saying the 2012 option kicks in if he's traded anytime during the deal as long as he picks up his 2011 option (which he did).

On #Cubs Ramirez, language states that 2012 option kicks in if he exercises 2011 option (he did) and is traded at any time of the contract

http://twitter.com/BruceMiles2112/status/9303...

that being said, I suppose a buyout could be negotiated as part of a trade deal

From a Rosenthal article:

“I don’t see it happening,” (Ramirez's agent) Kinzer said of a deal before the July 31 non-waiver deadline. “When his family goes back, and his kids go back to school, that could possibly loosen it up.

“As of now, he has no interest. He loves Chicago. He always wanted to finish his career there.”

Then he continues..

Kinzer, however, indicated that Ramirez would want his option dropped as a condition of the trade, a stipulation that would enable him to become a free agent at the end of the season. The Yankees made a similar concession for first baseman Lance Berkman to gain his approval for a trade from the Astros last July.

Ramirez’s desire to forfeit his $16 million option probably would make him more attractive to potential suitors, Kinzer said.

http://mlbbuzz.yardbarker.com/blog/mlbbuzz/ho...

Ramirez speaks...

"It is for family considerations," he said. "If I were to be single, by myself, yeah, I'd move anywhere and be in a hotel the last two months. But it's too tough with my family. I've earned the right to be in this position."

http://www.chicagotribune.com/sports/baseball...

sucks to lose the ability to trade one of the hottest bats in baseball, but it's up to him and that's fine with me.

...be nice if he'd change his mind or sign a cheap extension with the cubs

Devoss leading off for Boise tonight, playing 2b.

Made a bit of a splash: 0 for 1, 2 walks, 5 stolen bases, 4 runs.

(Also hit by pitch and safe on FC.)

Halladay, 4 IP, 3 ER, 7 H and he's out...

Cubs have that going for them.

len said due to injury

certainly to his vagina

1st/2nd, 1 out with Byrd up

after stealing 2b, Castro tries for 3B and is out (1 out would be the time to try it). Of course, Byrd singles afterwards...

fwiw, H. Simpson pitched yesterday in Arizona

4 IP, 3 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 3 K

And God intervened on McNutt's behalf yet again: yesterday was his 2nd straight rain shortened outing ... and he actually pitched decently this latest time around (2IP, 1H, 0R, 2BB, 2K).

The McNutt sounds like a menu item.

Yeah, like Rocky Mountain Oysters.

Submitted by Rob G. on Mon, 07/18/2011 - 7:51pm.
fwiw, H. Simpson pitched yesterday in Arizona

4 IP, 3 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 3 K

===================================

ROB G: And his fastball topped out at 86 MPH.

Is that better or worse?

according to Len/Bob...Halliday was taken out because of heat exhaustion

Rod Lopez not throwing hard enough to be affected by the heat.

Dusty Baker has a different theory.

lol

Great start by Hot Rod Lopez. Good job by the Cubs so far bouncing back from the tough Marlins series.

to not start Halladay against the Cubs on July 18th

http://espn.go.com/mlb/boxscore?gameId=300718116

5 scouts in 1 section at tonight's game...including j.riggleman, 2 guys from the giants.

WWE "Heavyweight" Champ at Cubs game today-

http://www.411mania.com/wrestling/news/194466...

same size as Barney

http://sports.espn.go.com/chicago/mlb/columns...

more on Ramirez, leaving a lot more leeway about saying yes to a trade. Kinzer is in town to talk to him and Hendry.

Fire Jim Hendry.

That sounds familiar.

This article is blocked by my work. Can anyone let me know if it is worth reading.

http://www.fanduel.com/insider/2011/07/15/vel...

No... not really. It basically says that Phil Hughes velocity looks good over three starts, and if he can keep his velocity up, he might be good.

Thanks

is there any show on the MLB Network more useless than Fantasy 411?

it should be called "drop your reliable fantasy starters for some 20-24 year old kid with no experience being called up from AA/AAA that we're anointing the next coming of pujols/clemens"

it's a great show if your goal is to perpetually play for next season.

Pirates lead the NLC.

hooray

RF Johnson, SS Castro, 3B Ramy, 2B Baker, CF Byrd, LF Soriano, 1B Pena, C Soto, P Garza

vs.

Rollins SS, Martinez 3B, Utley 2B, Howard 1B, Victorino CF, Ibanez LF, Brown RF, Ruiz C, Lee P

So it looks like our 2010 first round pick is a crafty soft tosser...we should school him on Greg Maddux film study (circa 2005) at the very least.

According to WSCR Ricketts met with Pat Gillick last week.

link from CBS saying the same thing...

http://chicago.cbslocal.com/2011/07/19/schust...

also says Gillick is 74 years old and not interested in a full-time job and that Gillick and Hendry are good buddies.

Good buddies, but behind his back Gillick has said, "That Hendry is a fucking idiot!"

Reed Johnson-DOuble is better than a walk

castro homer 2-0

Phils pitching sucks

the great Caeser with an inside the park home run for Daytona...

matt garza still can't bunt...

4.1 IP of no-hit ball until a D. Brown double...

over 11 innings of scoreless ball since the ASB for Garza

along with the mist/spray water people walking around in the stands, tomorrow the cubs are giving away water because of the heat.

Jeff Baker, enemy to lh pitching

14 straight scoreless from Garza since the ASB

batting for himself with 113 pitches? is he gonna pull a lou and sub out the pitcher anyway after using him to bat for himself?

-edit- garza comes out for the 8th, gives up a leadoff single, and is pulled...

...and garza gets a no decision after some marshall suckage.

tie game.

I guess not a great choice for Quade...a fading Garza or a recently quite perilous Cubs bullpen.

they're 19 games under, wtf is there to gain by putting garza out there again, especially to face Rollins a 4th time? Other than trying to save your job...

Q-ball needs to pull a George constanza, whatever he thinks the right thing is to do, do the opposite.

The Astros will be difficult to catch in the standings, but I think we have the talent to make it happen!

GO CUBS!

buzz lightyear: "to infinity...and beyond!"

mike quade: "to the basement...and beyond!"

Good point -- I agree keeping Garza in the game wasn't wise (which your analysis clarified even further). Just stating that the choices weren't great.

Just read this... Burt became my hero with this game, as it was on my 7th birthday. I immediately tried to learn how to throw a knuckle-curve (and failed miserably!)

thanks for the read...

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