Archive for July 2nd, 2009

Tom Drees Sees Your No-Hitter, And He Raises You

While writing last night’s post about Brandon Hynick’s perfect game, I stumbled across a list of every no-hitter in Pacific Coast League history.  This morning, I double-checked where the list had come from, and my hazy, wee-hours-of-the-morning recollection proved right on: it was linked under one of the stats tabs on the PCL’s home page.

The wheels started turning: if the PCL had such a list, wasn’t it possible that other leagues did as well?  Turns out, a good many of them did (offhand, I think the Appalachian and Texas leagues were the only ones I couldn’t find), resulting in a list of over 1,200 no-hitters on my computer.  It’s far from a complete list, but there is a lot of good stuff there (example: Luis Tiant pitched minor league no-hitters in 1963 and 1981).

Just for the heck of it, I decided to mention a few guys who pitched not one, not two, but three no-hitters in the minor leagues.  This doesn’t include those who combined with other pitchers on a no-no – my criteria for this post was that they finished what they started, even if the game was only scheduled for seven innings.

Under those guidelines, there were four pitchers with three minor league no-hitters on their resumes:

Dick Estelle
July 31, 1962 (Eugene, Northwest League) – beat Salem, 6-0 (7 innings)
June 22, 1964 (Tacoma, Pacific Coast League) – beat Denver, 2-0
May 11, 1965 (Tacoma, Pacific Coast League) – beat Hawaii, 6-0

Ed Barnowski
June 4, 1964 (Stockton, California League) – beat Salinas, 3-2 (10 innings)
August 20, 1964 (Stockton, California League) – beat Reno, 3-0 (7 innings)
July 27, 1965 (Elmira, Eastern League) – beat Reading, 2-0

Richard Jensen
July 25, 1973 (Tampa, Florida State League) – beat Miami (7 innings)
August 25, 1973 (Tampa, Florida State League) – beat Lakeland (7 innings)
August 9, 1974 (Tampa, Florida State League) – beat Key West (7 innings)

Tom Drees
May 23, 1989 (Vancouver, Pacific Coast League) – beat Calgary, 1-0
May 28, 1989 (Vancouver, Pacific Coast League) – beat Edmonton, 1-0 (7 innings)
August 16, 1989 (Vancouver, Pacific Coast League) – beat Las Vegas, 5-0 (7 innings)

Strange as it seems, none of the four enjoyed much major league success (Jensen never even escaped the bus leagues). Drees’s case struck me as especially odd, as he pitched back-to-back no-hitters in May and came back with another one in August, only to be told by the team to report to the Florida Instructional League. I get that he was still recovering from arm surgery, but yikes – the guy pitched three no-hitters. Would it have killed them to reward him with a spot in the majors in September?