Dave Stieb's No-Hitter
I've been sharing my memories of the Toronto Blue Jays, absorbed during the fanatical years of 1983-1993. Here's where I've been thus far:
- The Ten Home Run Attack
- The 1985 Clincher
- Roberto Alomar's Brings Us Back Against Eckersley
- Opening Day, 1988
Sir David was originally a prospective outfielder in the Blue Jays organization, but his future was on the mound. He remains the Blue Jays leader in all-time wins with 175 despite having pitched on some pretty bad teams in the late 70s and early 80s. He appeared in seven all-star games, getting the win in 1983 as the starter. It was the first American League victory since 1971. He also struck out 1658 batters for the Blue Jays, also a team record. I can easily argue that he was the best Blue Jays starter ever, but this tale is about his pursuit of perfection.
In 1988, no Blue Jay had ever pitched a no-hitter. On September 24, 1988, Dave Stieb had a no-hitter going for 8 2/3 innings against the Cleveland Indians. One out away from the no-hitter, Julio Franco ripped a single to deny Stieb. His next start was September 30, 1988, against the Baltimore Orioles. Remarkably, he once again had a no-hitter going for 8 2/3 innings before Jim Traber singled past Fred McGriff to break it up. The very next season, on August 4, 1989, Stieb had a perfect game going for 8 2/3 innings against the New York Yankees. This time, Roberto Kelly hit the single and appeared Stieb would never get his no-hitter. He had been remarkably close three times, and each time he ended up with a one-hit gem.
On September 2, 1990, I was working at the CNE as a Games Booth Attendant. The Jays were in Cleveland taking on the Indians at Cleveland Stadium. Checking into the office that afternoon, I asked the owner's wife for the final score. I hadn't been able to watch or hear a stitch of the game but we were in a pennant race and I was hoping to hear we'd pulled off another victory. When she told me Stieb threw a no-hitter, I smiled. He finally got it.
It remains the only no-hitter in Jays history, but it has extra value because it came after he was a mere out away three different times and he was Sir David, our first ace. He managed to play through 1992, helping us secure that first World Series title. None of it would have been possible without his scowl and slider.
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