Saturday, March 7, 2015

1972: Hooton Heaves (No-)Hits

*This post is part of an on-going series cataloging surviving broadcast footage from 1972 .

When rookie Burt Hooton took the mound on April 16, 1972 at Wrigley Field, he was likely just trying to solidify his spot in the Cubs pitching rotation.  What he ended up doing was etched his name into the record books. 


On that blustery Chicago afternoon, Hooton was not particularly sharp. While he struck out seven hitters and did not allow a hit, he issued seven walks.  He also dodge a few bullets thanks to some defensive help.  In fact, he may have only lived on in this game for as long as he did because manager Leo Durocher was sick and at home. After the jump, we will take a look at how much of the game survived and how a few key defensive stops made this day historic.


Starting us off is a one-pitch clip from the top of the 3rd inning, Denny Doyle hits a rocket over the head of shortstop Don Kessinger.  Kessinger leaps and makes a remarkable stabbing catch to keep the budding no-hitter intact.


Move ahead to the 7th inning and "The Bull" Greg Luzinski crushes a fastball to centerfield, only to have the strong winds of the day push it back and into the glove of centerfield Rick Monday.


Luzinksi would get one final chance to break up Hooton's big day.  The only complete at-bat that we get from this game, Luzinski watches the first two breaking pitches of the at-bat.  Down to his last strike, with Fergie Jenkins providing commentary as he awaits a postgame interview, Hooton finished off his his historic outing by getting Luzinski to swing through the third straight breaking ball for the 27th out of the game.


Hooton would pitch acceptably for the rest of the 1972 season, even with a losing record.  He would eventually be traded in 1975 to the Dodgers, where he would pitch for 10 years and appear in 3 World Series.  In 1978, on record alone, he would finish 2nd in the NL Cy Young race.


The footage is beautiful WGN-TV color videotape.  The clips are all part of a highlight film titled "Memorable Moments In Chicago Sports".  It has been wonderfully preserved by the organization MediaBurn. Along with the narration from the special, Jack Brickhouse's original play-by-play remains in-tact.

As is the case with most WGN footage, they claim no full games exist in their archives.  Mostly what has survived is clips like these that were used in various highlight programs and the like.  
In our next piece, we will take a look at a few innings of one of the National League's oldest rivalries.

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