33 Years Ago Today
Blue Jays starter Dave Stieb had taken no-hitters into the 9th inning three times, so I would imagine that when Stieb walked to the mound in the ninth, on September 2, 1990, in Cleveland, he was wondering ‘what would happen this time.’ The first three times:
- On September 24, 1988, in Cleveland, Julio Franco hit a grounder that took a surprisingly high hope and went over second baseman Manny Lee’s head.
- In Stieb’s next start, in Toronto against the Orioles, Jim Traber hit a 2-out soft fly that landed between the infielders and outfielders.
- On August 4, 1989, in the first season of SkyDome, with 2-outs in the ninth inning, which could have been a perfect game, Roberto Kelly lines a double up the gap.
But the fourth time was the charm.
In the ninth, Stieb:
- Got pinch-hitter Chris James to fly out (a pretty deep flyout).
- Struck out pinch-hitter Candy Maldonado.
- Walked Alex Cole (Stieb walked 4, unusual for him).
- And he induced Jerry Browne to fly/line out to right fielder Junior Felix.
Here is the final out:
Cleveland didn’t have a ‘murderer’s row’ back in 1990. Their clean-up hitter, Ken Phelps (likely more famous for a mention in Seinfeld than his baseball career), was hitting .155/.288/.198 at the time. Moreover, 5 of their starters had OPS numbers lower than .700.
Stieb didn’t feel he was at his best that day. From the Toronto Star game story:
I didn’t have great control. I couldn’t find my release point in the early innings. I hung pitches but got away with them. They helped me out a few times by swinging at bad pitches. They hit balls right at people.
The win was Stieb’s 17th of the season against 5 losses. He finished the game with a 2.91 ERA. He would finish the season 18-6 with a 2.93 ERA, his most wins in a season, setting a new team-high.
I was a massive fan of Stieb. He was competitive. He would have been a good match for Jose Bautista, but, unlike Jose, he would stare down teammates who make mistakes. It is too bad we didn’t have a better team when he was at the top of his game. I’m not sure if he was a bad teammate in other ways, but I’d imagine that behaviour wouldn’t endear him to the others on his team.
But I wasn’t on the team, and I just saw him as the best player on my team and the best pitcher in baseball at the time. I admired his drive to win. And, for most of his career, there weren’t many other Jays worth cheering.
It is still the only no-hitter in Blue Jays history.
|Mookie Wilson DH||4||0||0||0||0||1||4||.264||.304||.354||.658|
|Tony Fernandez SS||4||0||2||0||0||0||4||.258||.343||.377||.720||CS|
|Kelly Gruber 3B||3||0||0||0||1||1||4||.261||.315||.474||.788|
|Fred McGriff 1B||4||2||2||2||0||0||4||.309||.416||.565||.981||2·HR|
|Pat Borders C||4||0||1||0||0||1||4||.293||.325||.514||.838|
|Glenallen Hill LF||4||0||1||0||0||2||4||.235||.287||.449||.736|
|Ken Williams CF||4||1||1||0||0||0||4||.153||.203||.197||.400||2B|
|Manuel Lee 2B||4||0||1||1||0||0||4||.242||.281||.346||.627||2B|
|Junior Felix RF||3||0||0||0||0||1||3||.271||.340||.458||.798|
|Dave Stieb P|
|Alex Cole CF||2||0||0||0||2||0||4||.328||.404||.388||.792||CS|
|Jerry Browne 2B||4||0||0||0||0||0||4||.266||.339||.372||.711|
|Dion James LF||3||0||0||0||0||1||3||.276||.347||.371||.718|
|Ken Phelps DH||2||0||0||0||1||0||3||.155||.288||.198||.486|
|Brook Jacoby 1B||3||0||0||0||0||1||3||.283||.358||.418||.776|
|Carlos Baerga SS||2||0||0||0||1||0||3||.240||.285||.362||.647||CS|
|Cory Snyder RF||3||0||0||0||0||2||3||.234||.266||.402||.668|
|Tom Brookens 3B||2||0||0||0||0||2||2||.235||.288||.311||.598|
|Chris James PH||1||0||0||0||0||0||1||.299||.343||.444||.788|
|Joel Skinner C||2||0||0||0||0||2||2||.250||.289||.324||.614|
|Candy Maldonado PH||1||0||0||0||0||1||1||.269||.330||.437||.767|
|Bud Black P|
|Jesse Orosco P|
|Steve Olin P|
|Dave Stieb, W (17-5)||9||0||0||0||4||9||0||2.91||29||123||75||35||17||23||6||10||1||0||92|
|Bud Black, L (10-9)||7||5||2||2||1||5||1||3.63||27||121||79||56||13||10||8||13||2||0||63|
The folks at FOCO have a Dave Stieb ‘No-Hitter Bobble Head coming out today. It is limited to 123 units (the number of pitches he threw that day). I was a huge fan of Stieb, I do want one of these (though my wife would tell you I have too many bobbleheads and other little toys looking down at me where I’m typing this. I think that’s quitter talk, personally). It is 8 inches tall.
The bobblehead features Dave in a pitching pose atop a mound themed base. He’s sporting the same uniform he wore during the game and his name is displayed in the front of the base with the date of the achievement of the backboard positioned behind him.