Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Ray receives a mention

With another no-hitter by a Boston Red Sox pitcher, Jason Varitek on Monday entered the record books for catching the most no-nos -- four.

For a long time, the subject of my next book, Ray Schalk (pictured), was considered to have caught four no-hitters (including a perfect game) as well. However, Major League Baseball in 1991 ruled that a no-hitter must be just that -- allowing no hits -- and it must be in a game of at least nine innings. As a result a New York Times article mentions Schalk's "old" mark.

That knocked one no-hitter off Schalk's list. On May 14, 1914, Jim Scott of the Chicago White Sox pitched nine no-hitter innings in Washington. In the 10th, the Nationals (also called the Senators) recorded a lead-off single. Scott gave up another hit in the frame, and wound up losing, 1-0. Less than three weeks later, Schalk caught another no-hitter, and this one counted.

Schalk made it his practice to phone or write to the catcher of every major league no-hitter. He knew that the pitcher got the glory of the achievement (as is his due), but the catcher, calling pitches and positioning defenders, usually played a big part in the event.

Schalk's 'official' no-hitters as a catcher:
May 31, 1914 -- Joe Benz, vs. Cleveland, in Chicago.
April 14, 1917 -- Eddie Cicotte, at. St. Louis Browns.
April 30, 1922 -- Charlie Robertson, at Detroit. (Perfect game)

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