Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Rick Wise = Babe Ruth

There was a day in which Rick Wise beat the Cincinatti Reds by himself. Sure, he had some fly catchers parading in the outfield and some speedbumps in the infield to catch the ball but Rick Wise could have taken the mound June 23, 1971 with a bounce-back screen behind homeplate and 6 well trained golden retrievers and handed the Big Red Machine the loss.

For on this day, Rick Wise would throw up this line from the mound:

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While seemingly a special moment for the Philadelphia Phillies organization and Mr. Wise himself, it was the 175 No-Hitter in baseball history up until that point.

What set this day apart from most of the others was what Wise did at the plate:

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Wise took his Wonderboy with him to the plate that day, taking both Ross Grimsley and Clay Carroll deep.

Between 1960 and 1976, roughly 54 no-hitters were thrown in Major League Baseball. I'm not really going to get into the other no-hitters that video still exists of however, generally speaking, only small snippets of the ends of the games still remain. What would generally happen is someone would begin to realize that a no-hitter was being thrown and whether it was a station manager, fan with a kinescope at home or maybe someone with the team would begin to record the final 12 or so of the 27 outs.

If lucky, today we can find maybe the last two innings of the game have been preserved.

That is what appears to be the case with Mr. Wise's special day.

Thanks to the video footage found on the MLB Productions DVD Unhittable, we are shown clips of (using detective work again) the final 2 innings. Placing the clips in chronological order:

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Above we see Wise smacking his 2nd homerun, this one off of Clay Carroll. Thanks to retrosheets again, we know that this happened in the Top of the 8th inning.

Next, as the legendary baritone voice of Harry Kalas tells us (why do I suddenly feel like eating soup?) , Wise retires Tommy Helms with a groundball to the shortstop...which was the 3rd out of the 8th inning.
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There is nothing shown that would indicate the Top of the 9th inning was recorded but it would seem rather odd for someone to stop the recording while the Phillies were batting.

Finally, Pete Rose lines out to the Golden, John Vukovich at 3rd base for the 27th out of Rick Wise's remarkable day. The dogpile (pun intended) that ensued with Phillies players was all captured in this recording as well.
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Like most no-hitters during this time period, being a regular season would have taken either sheer luck that someone was recording the game that night or foresight by the Phillies, Reds or the station manager to keep a copy of this recording on file.

We have no idea if any of these things happened. What we do know is that MLB has in their possession at the very least the final 6 outs (both Home and Away) of one of the most remarkable games a pitcher has ever had. We also know that there was an actual television broadcast of this game recorded and aired by the Philadelphia Phillies.

As for what else exists? Ask MLB.

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