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04/21/12 8:00 PM ET
White Sox no-no history adds Humber chapter
By John Schlegel / MLB.com
With Philip Humber's masterpiece Saturday in Seattle, the White Sox are right back at the top of baseball's no-hitter annals with their 18th no-hitter and third perfect game. They're not alone at the top in either category. In no-hitters, they're tied with the Red Sox. In perfect games, they're tied with the Yankees. But in recent years, it's hard to top the zeros put up by the monochrome denizens of Chicago's South Side. In the span of five years and three days, the White Sox have two perfect games as part of three no-hitters -- the other two gems coming off the gifted left hand of Mark Buehrle, who spun a perfecto in 2009 and a no-no in '07. Combined with Charlie Robertson's perfect game on April 30, 1922, Chicago's trio of perfect games matches the Yankees' Don Larsen (1956 World Series), David Wells (May 17, 1998) and David Cone (July 18, 1999). In that sense, the White Sox actually stand out as the only team with three perfectos in the regular season. In terms of no-hitters, Buehrle's first feat on April 18, 2007, brought the White Sox into a tie with the Red Sox, whose list of no-hitter pitchers begins with a gentleman named Cy Young. The Red Sox quickly took the lead back with Clay Buchholz's rookie no-no later in '07 and Jon Lester's gem the following year, giving them 18.
Two perfect games later, it's Sox-Sox at the top of the no-hitter leaderboard.In making a habit of piling on top of a pitcher after he'd left nothing but zeros on the scoreboard, the White Sox have added to an illustrious and interesting history. If it's possible for a 96-pitch dominating performance to be run-of-the-mill, Humber's amazing day in the Pacific Northwest qualifies -- if only because his surgical precision wasn't completely out of the blue. After all, he took a no-hitter into the seventh inning just last year. Consider: Before Buehrle's first gem, the previous White Sox no-hitter was tossed by Wilson Alvarez, on Aug. 11, 1991. It was Alvarez's debut with the White Sox and just his second Major League game. Alvarez made his debut as a 19-year-old in 1989 with the Rangers. He allowed a single, back-to-back homers and two walks in that game, then was traded to the White Sox on July 29 of that year in a deal that sent sent Sosa and Harold Baines to the Rangers. His ERA at the time was listed as "inf," for infinity. The White Sox recalled the left-hander in 1991, and his first start with the Sox occurred in Baltimore's Memorial Stadium before a crowd of 40,455. He walked five and struck out seven, but didn't allow a hit. The one before that was the other end of the career spectrum. The gem tossed by right-hander Joe Cowley on Sept. 19, 1986, would be his last Major League victory. Cowley, who had been sent to the Minors earlier in the 1986 season, beat the Angels in Anaheim, 7-1. He walked seven and allowed a sacrifice fly. Cowley led the White Sox with 11 wins that season and set an American League record by striking out the first seven Rangers he faced in a game. The Sox gave up on Cowley and his history of control problems the following spring, when they sent him to the Phillies for outfielder Gary Redus. In one month with the Phillies, he went 0-4 with a 15.43 ERA. In 15 2/3 innings, he allowed 21 hits and walked 17. He was sent to the Minors and never returned. While Alvarez and Cowley each had unique situations either before or after his no-hitter, it took two pitchers to throw the no-hitter that preceded theirs. The date was July 28, 1976, and the scene was Oakland, where a crowd of just more than 3,300 witnessed the combination no-hitter thrown by White Sox pitchers John "Blue Moon" Odom and Francisco Barrios. Perhaps setting a precedent for being effectively wild that Cowley would emulate, Odom walked nine and allowed a run in five innings. Barrios pitched the last four innings more effectively, walking two. At the time, it was the fourth combined no-hitter in American League history. It figures that the White Sox would be right in the thick of no-hitter history. After all, they started it all in the American League. White Sox right-hander James Joseph "Nixey" Callahan pitched the first AL no-hitter on Sept. 20, 1902, beating the Tigers. He'd jumped from the NL Colts -- who would become the Orphans before becoming the Cubs -- to the AL Sox the year before and in 1903 became the team's manager and third baseman at age 29. On Saturday, a 29-year-old named Philip Humber managed to add to what already was an amazing array of White Sox pitching performances.
John Schlegel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.