One Pack. No Turning Back.
For one day among the dog days of August in 1990, the Philadelphia Phillies were kings of baseball, thanks to an unknown named Terry Mulholland.
Mulholland, who would go on to wear 11 different caps over a 20-year career, was just a 27-year old with diminishing potential when he no-hit the San Francisco Giants on August 15, the 7th no-hitter of the season (8th if you count Andy Hawkins’ 8-inning no-no loss on July 1).
To answer the question posed by the name of this column, yes, I remember it quite well—when you’re a nine-year-old obsessed with a mediocre team and have to wrap your radio antenna with tin foil just to get a faint reception of Harry Kalas’ soothing voice, well, a no-hitter might as well be a World Series win.
Remember that these were the days when the Phillies trotted out the likes of Carmelo Martinez and Darrel Akerfelds.
Not good times.
But Mulholland, owner of the world’s most devastating pickoff move, achieved manhood on that day at Veterans Stadium when he blanked the Giants.
“After that game, I had a feeling like I belonged in the Major Leagues,” he told MLB.com in 2003. “I knew that I could compete at that level.”
At first pitch, Mulholland had a pedestrian 6-6 record with a 4.34 ERA for the 53-60 Phillies, who had dropped 5 of their last 6. The Giants were 60-55, 7.5 games out of first place, and boasted a lineup with Will Clark, Kevin Mitchell, and Matt Williams.
Mulholland, who wasn’t known for having nasty stuff, finessed his way through the Giants lineup.
“Early on he didn’t have his good slider, so we relied a lot more on off-speed pitches,” catcher Darren Daulton told the Philadelphia Daily News after the game, sounding like his famous “We’re gonna have to use some mirrors here” line to Curt Schilling during the 1993 World Series.
“Later, we started using the hard slider a lot more.”
The Giants weren’t exactly blown away by Mulholland, even if they couldn’t hit him.
“We hit 10 line-drive outs off him,” Clark told the Daily News, refusing to put Mulholland over. For comparison, he referenced Mike Scott’s no-hitter against them to clinch the 1986 division as an example of “complete domination.”
“I came into the locker room after that and said, 'Wow!' This one wasn't a 'Wow!' This one was more of a 'Maybe.'”
He said to the rival Philadelphia Inquirer: “We hit some balls on the nose. You’ve got to have some luck to throw a no-hitter;” the kind of comment that could get you drilled the next time out (although I doubt Mulholland, ever the gentleman, followed through).
True to stubborn baseball tradition, no one in the Phillies dugout mentioned the onay-itterhay as it unfolded, and Daulton, who usually changed his glove when it would get too sweaty, kept the same mitt throughout the game.
Mulholland received some help on the balls put into play, although he did fan 8 in his 105-pitch outing. John Kruk, looking merely skinny-fat in his slimming pinstripes, “sprinted” (according to the Daily News) to the Phillies dugout in the 8th to pluck a foul pop-up out of the first row of seats. Lenny Dykstra, in his less-incarcerated days, made a couple nifty grabs in center.
In fact, Mulholland faced the minimum 27 batters in the game and barely missed tossing a perfect game. The only guy to reach was Rick Parker, ironically the “player to be named later” in the Mulholland/Dennis Cook/Charlie Hayes for Steve Bedrosian/TBA deal the previous June. Parker got to first when Charlie Hayes’ throw pulled Kruk off the bag (Hayes was charged with an error) but was then eliminated on a double play.
Hayes’ take on the error?
“I don’t want to make excuses,” (which of course means that’s exactly what’s coming), “But the throw to first was not that bad. I think he (Kruk) stretched a little early."
John Kruk, meet the underside of a bus. Bus, John.
(Actually, Kruk felt so bad that he called the official scorer, sports editor Bob Kenney, after the game asking that the error be charged to him instead. Kenney declined, but Kruk still earned some karma tokens in the process).
Hayes, who had the unenviable task of replacing Mike Schmidt at third when he retired mid-season in 1989, got the final laugh, however, as he snagged a shot off Gary Carter’s bad that would have probably gone foul anyway to seal the no-hitter and 6-0 win.
After the game, Mulholland seemed more relieved than anything, scoring only a 5 on our post-game-cliché meter (out of a possible 10):
"It was just great. I can't really explain what was going through my mind when Charlie Hayes snapped that line drive. It was like a ton of bricks had fallen off my shoulders,” he told the Daily News.
Ever gracious, Mulholland lingered in the ballpark to sign autographs and then joined his brother Steve and teammate Don Carman at Mike Schmidt’s downtown restaurant for some celebratory beers. He received congratulatory phone calls deep into the night and early morning before he took his phone off the hook (remember when you could do that?).
He pitched for 16 more seasons, making it to the World Series with the Phillies in 1993 and again with the Braves in 1999 before finally retiring with the Diamondbacks in 2006.
In 2012, the folks at the Phillies blog thegoodphight.com expressed outrage that Terry Mulholland had not received a single vote for induction into the Hall of Fame.
The Wax Pack shares in that outrage.
Do You Remember...Terry Mulholland's No-Hitter?
By Brad Balukjian, firstname.lastname@example.org, 5.01.15