Jul 1, 2020

‘Not the way I envisioned a no-hitter’

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Good morning, frents …

Welcome to July.

Only 10 more months of the year to go.

The Andy Hawkins memory is still a hit

The late, great Bill Jauss put it best.

“If Comiskey II, currently under construction across 35th Street, lasts another 80 years,” Jauss wrote in the Tribune the morning after July 1, 1990. “It will not house a stranger game than the one the Sox won 4-0 over the Yankees on their final game in Comiskey I.”

Jauss was writing about the previous day’s contest, which saw Yankees pitcher Andy Hawkins no-hit the White Sox and still walk away a loser after a bizarre eighth inning that saw Yankee fielders commit three crucial errors.

Today marks the 30th anniversary of that game, as well as the 110th anniversary of old Comiskey Park opening its doors to the baseball world.

And while the new Comiskey has seen three official no-hitters so far — two gems from Mark Buehrle, one walk-laden mess from Francisco Liriano — Jauss’ words still ring true.

It really was that strange.

Though Hawkins’ no-no was wiped from the record books a year later by then-commissioner Fay Vincent, the game remains a unique memory for any of us old enough to remember it.

I was 11 and remember making a late appeal after Sunday church for an impromptu trip. Old Comiskey was in its final year, the young White Sox had the second-best record in baseball at 45-26 and the Yankees were in town (though they really weren’t the Yankees at that time. They actually kind of sucked.)

Most importantly, I had been seeing ads for Bat Day for probably a month straight.

But Dad didn’t bite for whatever reason and I remember both listening to it and admiring my friend Tim’s bat and the story he’d get to tell for the rest of his life when he returned from the game.

He can tell you I still bring it up to this day.

The great White Sox Talk podcast from the NBC Sports Chicago actually covered this game in detail last January and got Hawkins himself on the line. It’s worth a listen.

“The baseball god and the one most people pray to are two entirely different entities,” Hawkins told Chuck Garfien.  “The baseball god has a sick sense of humor.”

With a crowd of 30,642 on hand for a sunny and windy day, both Hawkins and Sox starter Greg Hibbard had dueling perfect games going into the bottom of the fifth inning. Hawkins lost his when Ron Karkovice drew a walk, Hibbard saw his effort disappear with a single in the sixth from future manager Bob Geren. (You can check out the box score here.)

The real fun, however, wouldn’t start until the bottom of the eighth inning. Hawkins got two quick outs from Karkovice and Scott Fletcher, but skinny Sammy Sosa reached base by sliding into first after Mike Blowers flubbed a grounder at third. Sosa would steal second and then Ozzie Guillen and Lance Johnson would both walk to load the bases.

That set the stage for the complete opposite of what DeWayne Wise did for Mark Buehrle during a perfect game 19 years later.

With rookie Robin Ventura at the plate, rookie Jim Leyritz looked in from left field. He  was playing just his third game at the position that season.

Ventura unscrewed an opposite-field flyball in Leyritz’s direction and … well, just watch Leyritz’s dance moves as he tries to make a play on this ball.

All three runs scored as Comiskey rocked. One batter later, rightfielder Jesse Barfield misplayed his own flyball from Ivan Calderon and Ventura came around to score.

Three outs from Scott Radinsky in the top of the ninth later and the Sox notched their 46th victory of the season by taking the hardest way possible.

Sox fans gave Hawkins an ovation as he did a postgame interview on the field. He was then met with a standing ovation with teammates when he reached the clubhouse.

“I’m stunned,” Hawkins told reporters after. “This is not the way I envisioned a no-hitter. I always dreamed of getting the last out and jumping up and down.”

What Hawkins got instead was a double play turned by the Sox, a vintage call from Hawk Harrelson and 30,000 people singing “Na Na Na” at the top of their lungs.

If only Hawkins’ lack of luck had ended there.

In his next start, he pitched 11 2/3 scoreless innings against the Twins — no, that’s not a misprint — before allowing two runs in the 12th and getting hung with a loss.

"My two best starts in my life, probably, and I was 0-2," Hawkins told the New York Daily News in 2010.

Hawkins then faced the White Sox in the Bronx during his next start and would walk away with another memory: Sox pitcher Melido Perez threw a six-inning no-hitter in that game that was called in the seventh because of rain.

Both games and around 50 others were purged from the official list in September 1991 when Fay Vincent ruled a no-hit pitcher needed to go at least nine innings for it to count.

But that ruling hasn’t kept Hawkins’ name from coming up around this time every year. He told White Sox Talk he’s made his peace with his place in baseball history. And why not? His unofficial weird no-hitter is more well-known than most of the 303 official no-hitters that are still on the books.

It was a fate that George Steinbrenner himself predicted at the time.*

"At least he will become more famous as the pitcher who lost a no-hitter rather than just another pitcher who threw a no-hitter," Steinbrenner told the New York Post in 1990.

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*Credit to Grant Brisbee for digging up that quote. His super in-depth piece on Hawkins that ran on the 25th anniversary of the game is worth a read if you want more.

Today’s schedule
Portland Thorns (0-1-0) vs. Red Stars (0-1-0), 11:30 am, CBS All Access

Andy Masur to replace Ed Farmer in White Sox radio booth

I’ve always liked Andy’s style dating back to his days in the Cubs booth and I even occasionally popped into the Padres’ broadcasts via MLB.com during his days in San Diego. There’s no question Sox broadcasts will be different without Farmio leading them, but at least there will be a familiar voice to help make the change.

Have a link for Midway Minute? Email me!

The Field of Dreams game could still be on. But who will be the White Sox opponent? (Tribune)

Jason Heyward donated another $100K to fight COVID-19. (Bleacher Nation)

Sahadev Sharma thinks the Cubs should keep it simple with Kyle Schwarber at DH. (The Athletic)

Henry Bushnell on why herd immunity is a bad gameplan for college football. (Yahoo Sports)

Chicago: Still a NHL hub city finalist. Field is now down to four. (NBC Sports Chicago)

Not about Chicago, but if you haven’t read this story about Carl Reiner yet, do so now. (Twitter)

The Sodfather is back in action! (Twitter)

• And so are the Bryant boys …

Thank you for being a #frentofthenewsletter. Let’s go have ourselves a Wednesday.

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Kevin Kaduk
Kevin Kaduk
Kevin is the founder of Midway Minute.

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