By John Schweibacher
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New York, NY (WFAN) – Johan Santana became the first pitcher in Mets history to throw a no-hitter. Ending the club’s epic drought in the team’s 51st season and its 8,020th game.
After the game, Santana himself said to his Mets’ teammates “Tonight, we made history.” Here are some of the historical footnotes about the history the left-hander and his club made.
According to the Elias Sports Bureau, in the 137-year history of Major League Baseball, the Mets’ 8,020 game wait was the longest from the start of any franchise without a no-hitter.
Santana, who missed all of last season following shoulder surgery, is only the second pitcher in major league history to throw a no-hitter in his 10th season or later, after having missed all of the previous season. The other was Dwight Gooden, who threw a no-hitter in 1996 for the Yankees, who had signed him after he had been suspended for the entire 1995 season.
Elias also notes that he is also the third non-rookie in the past 50 seasons to throw a no-hitter after not pitching in the majors the previous season. The other two were Gooden and Jim Palmer for the 1969 Baltimore Orioles.
Santana, at 33 years, 81 days, is the oldest major-leaguer to toss a no-no since Randy Johnson threw a perfect game at age 40 back in 2004.
Santana’s no-hitter came at the expense of the Cardinals, and according to Elias it was the earliest in a season either by calendar date or by number of games played that a defending World Series champion has been the victim of a no-hit, no-run game. The last defending World Series champion to be no-hit was Tony La Russa’s Oakland team in 1990, by the Rangers’ Nolan Ryan.
Elias also tells us that Santana became the first major-leaguer to throw a no-hitter after having thrown a shutout in his previous start since Dave Righetti no-hit the Red Sox for the Yankees on July 4th, 1983, after he had shut out the Orioles five days earlier.
Santana’s no-hitter was caught by Josh Thole, who was appearing in his first game after missing the Mets’ last 22 games while recovering from a concussion. According to Elias, only one other player in modern major-league history caught a no-hitter after coming off such a prolonged absence: 37 years earlier to the day, on June 1st, 1975, the Angels’ Ellie Rodriguez caught Nolan Ryan’s fourth no-hitter in his first game off the disabled list after he had missed the team’s previous 25 games.
Only two previous no-hitters were thrown on June 1st: Ryan’s against the Orioles in 1975, and one by Bill Dietrich of the White Sox in 1937.
Santana’s no-hitter was also the first by a New York National League pitcher since the Brooklyn Dodgers’ Sal Maglie did so against the Phillies at Ebbets Field on September 25th, 1956, less than two weeks before Maglie and Brooklyn were on the losing end of Don Larsen’s perfect game in the World Series.
The last New York Giants pitcher to throw a no-hitter was Carl Hubbell against Pittsburgh at the Polo Grounds on May 8th, 1929.
The no-hitter was the first in the history of Citi Field. Only two were thrown at Shea Stadium: Jim Bunning’s perfect game in 1964 and Bob Moose’s no-hitter in 1969.
Santana, who had never thrown a one-hitter or two-hitter, had previously thrown five three-hitters.
Santana is the fourth pitcher with multiple Cy Young Awards at the time of his first career no-hitter. The other three are Bob Gibson (1971), Tom Seaver (1978), and Bret Saberhagen (1991).
It was also Santana’s second consecutive shutout, making him the first Met to record back-to-back shutouts since David Cone in 1992.
The Mets went 8,019 games without a no-hitter, the most by any team before it recorded its first. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the club with the second-most was the Mets opponent on Friday, the Cardinals, who played 4,826 games before their first no-hitter.
The Padres are now the only current team without a no-hitter. They have now played 6,895 games without one. Here is a list of the fewest no-hitters by current MLB franchises:
San Diego Padres 0
Milwaukee Brewers 1 – (Juan Nieves 4/15/87)
Toronto Blue Jays 1 – (Dave Stieb 9/2/90)
Colorado Rockies 1 – (Ubaldo Jimenez 4/17/10)
Tampa Bay Rays 1 – (Matt Garza 7/26/10)
New York Mets 1 – (Johan Santana 6/1/12)