Robert "Bo" Belinsky Pitches No-Hitter
The date was May 5, 1962. A brash, 25-year-old rookie, who vowed to set the American League, "on its ear," was doing just that against the Baltimore Orioles.
For 8 2/3 innings, Robert "Bo" Belinsky had shut down the Orioles without a hit. The only batter left between Belinsky and Los Angeles Angels history was outfielder Dave Nicholson.
The southpaw worked the count to 1-1 before Nicholson lofted a towering foul ball in the direction of Angels third baseman Felix Torres, who fought the pop-up all the way, before catching it just inches away from the third base foul line. Belinsky's 2-0 no-hit victory became a reality.
A Dodger Stadium crowd of 15,886 saw the colorful Belinsky toss the first no-hitter since major league baseball arrived in Los Angeles with the Dodgers in 1958; the first no-hitter in the American League since Hoyt Wilhelm turned the trick when he beat the New York Yankees 1-0 on September 20, 1958; the first A.L. no-hitter by a southpaw since Boston's Mel Parnell fashioned one against Chicago on July 14, 1956, winning 4-0; and the first no-hitter by a rookie since Bobo Holloman of the old St. Louis Browns beat Philadelphia 6-0 on May 6, 1953.
Belinsky, in hurling his gem, walked four, hit two and had another reach base on an error. His biggest predicament came in the fourth inning when, with one out, he walked Jim Gentile and Jackie Brandt, and Gus Triandos reached first on an error to fill the bases. However, Belinsky struck out Nicholson and got Ron Hanson to fly out to end the threat.
In the ninth, the lefty got out Brandt on strikes and induced Triandos into grounding out before Nicholson ended the game with the pop-out.
"What a team to pitch a no-hitter against," said Belinsky after the feat, citing the irony that it was the Orioles who shipped him to the Angels, and the fact his minor league manager for three seasons in the Baltimore organization -- George Staller -- was forced to watch the proceedings from his vantage point in the first base coaching box.
Belinsky, in later years, recalled the moment with vivid distinction and pride.
"It was the whole scene," Belinsky reflected. "The magic of Los Angeles... Gene Autry and the Angels... the glamour of the West Coast... and, of course, the Angels being a young ball club. It sort of kicked off a pretty exciting year for us because, if you'll remember, we were only three games out of first place in September and that was against the Yankees when they were a magic team themselves in the early '60's"
The reminiscing continued.
"I had never come close (to a no-hitter before). I had trouble pitching a shutout... it was just a glamorous type of thing. The crowds weren't like they are today -- I think only 16,000 -- but they made it sound like there were 160,000 out there.
"It was a soft no-hitter. There was nothing real hard about it... but I knew it was inevitable, that it was going to happen. And then everything seemed to fall right in. It was nice pitching for Gene Autry and the Angels. It was just nice being on the Angels."
A no-hitter in his grasp, Belinsky amusingly reviewed the final out.
"The funny part about it was the fact Felix Torres was on third base and Felix Torres wasn't known for his defensive play. As a matter of fact, he used to wear a batting helmet on third base.
"Anyway, my first reaction when the ball went up, and I mean Nicholson hit a ball that was a mile high, and the first thing that came to my mind was, "be foul." But Torres circled the ball and I think he caught it right on the line, so if it had dropped without him touching it, it would have been a hit.
"But I remember it being hit so high and all I could think about was, "Torres, don't lose your batting helmet now."
"It was an exciting time, one of the higtextLgights of my career."