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Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Philadelphia Phillies’ combined no-hitter is trivial

Alan Greenwood

Traditional no-hitters – that is, one pitcher working nine innings and allowing no hits – are noteworthy stunts. Unless the pitcher’s name is Nolan Ryan and is able to dominate any foe, at any time – even at age 44 – more often than not, a no-hitter really says nothing about a pitcher’s place in baseball history.

For instance, Pedro Martinez never threw a no-hitter; Tom Phoebus did. ...

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Traditional no-hitters – that is, one pitcher working nine innings and allowing no hits – are noteworthy stunts. Unless the pitcher’s name is Nolan Ryan and is able to dominate any foe, at any time – even at age 44 – more often than not, a no-hitter really says nothing about a pitcher’s place in baseball history.

For instance, Pedro Martinez never threw a no-hitter; Tom Phoebus did.

Working for the Orioles, Phoebus no-hit the Red Sox on April 27, 1968, one of his 56 career wins, with 52 career losses.

Now, in the age of 12-man pitching staffs and starters who turn into proverbial pumpkins once they throw 100 pitches, we are asked to marvel at the thought of two, three or more pitchers combining to no-hit an opponent.

Monday afternoon, Cole Hamels, Jake Diekman, Ken Giles and Jonathan Papelbon recorded the 10th so-called “combined no-hitter” in Major League Baseball history. Hamels allowed the Atlanta Braves no hits over six innings. Diekman, Giles and Papelbon each threw one dazzling no-hit inning. Tony La Russa must have been beaming when he heard the news.

The first combined no-hitter was the only one worth considering as any sort of feat. On June 23, 1917, Red Sox left-hander Babe Ruth walked the first Washington Senators batter, argued with umpire Brick Owens and was ejected.

Ernie Shore came on, recorded 27 outs without allowing a hit, and the Red Sox won the first game of a doubleheader at Fenway Park, 4-0.

It was baseball’s only combined no-hitter for the next 50 years. That might reflect the archaic thinking that a pitcher who has allowed no hits through a number of innings can keep throwing until he allows a hit or is struck by lightning.

As an aside, Brick Owens is one great baseball name, isn’t it? He earned it umpiring in the Missouri Valley League, when angry fans in Pittsburg, Kansas, threw bricks at him, with one hitting him in the head.

SELF-ASSURED: Tom Brady told Men’s Health magazine that he’d love to continue as a pro quarterback into his 50s. If he sticks with the Patriots, that means Bill Belichick could be coaching into his 80s.

Pats beat reporters could be grumbling about Belichick’s monotone dissembling for generations!

On WEEI on Tuesday, Brady was succinct in clarifying his position: “When I suck, I’ll retire,’’ he said.

Someone should have offered Brett Favre that advice.

ON POINT: Rajon Rondo twisted Brady’s logic into a pretzel by telling CSN’s Sherrod Blakely that he’d like to begin the season with Celtics, take stock of the team’s fortunes after a reasonable number of games, then tell Danny Ainge if he wants to stay or leave.

Glancing at the Celtics’ roster, the smart money is on Rondo waving goodbye around Jan. 20.

TIME TRAVEL: Sept. 3, 1954 – The New Hampshire and Vermont All Stars were preparing for the inaugural Shrine Football Game, to be held Monday, Sept. 6, at Holman Stadium.

Game organizer Harold Isenberg, of Manchester, predicted a crowd of 14,000 or more. (It actually came in at 7,500.) A parade from Union Station to Holman included the two teams accompanied by bands and cheerleaders from schools in both states.

New Hampshire won, 12-7.

That competitive balance has dwindled the last few decades.

Alan Greenwood can be reached at 594-6427 or agreenwood@nashuatelegraph.com. Also, follow Greenwood on Twitter (@Telegraph_AlanG).