It Was a Different Game When Don Wilson was Throwing No-Hitters

I still have a collection of old Sporting News (when it was the baseball “bible”) from as far back as the late 1950s.  Today I ran across the issue of July 1, 1967.  One of the big stories was of Houston Astro hurler Don Wilson’s first no hitter.

The amazing thing about Wilson’s feat was not that he did it.  He fanned 15 Atlanta Braves, including Hank Aaron three times with the last being the final out of the game, but that he threw 143 pitches on just three days rest after having served up 155 pitches in a nine inning complete game win against the San Francisco Giants.

Hurlers still throw no hitters a few times each year.  But hardly anyone is allowed to throw so many pitches in a no hitter.  And no one will ever have back to back complete games on short rest with a total of 298 pitches!

That same issue of TSN also recalled the exploits of Jimmy Wynn during June of 1967.  John Wilson, the sportswriter who gave him the nickname, “Toy Cannon” reminded us of Jimmy’s incredible power.  And it was not that he hit home runs, but the distance the 160 pounder could put behind them.

Some examples:  On June 6th Wynn hit the ball off the left field scoreboard in the “new” Busch Stadium.  Yet earlier in his career at the old Busch (Sportsman’s Park) he hit that scoreboard twice.  In Philadelphia he hit the ball over the roof at Connie Mack Stadium with the wind blowing in.  In his home town of Cincinnati the Toy Cannon put on a real show.  First he hit a ball over the 40 foot scoreboard in left center field.  The next day he his one to the left of the scoreboard further than the first one.  This time the ball crossed the edge of the parking lot, landed in a freeway feeder street, bounced up an embankment–heading right toward where Jimmy had grown up as a child.  It finally came to rest some 600 feet from where it started at home plate.

The very next day the Astros were back in the Dome facing the Giants and Wynn went the opposite way to right off Frank Linzy to win the game.   It was only the second opposite field homer Wynn had hit to that point.

Two days later Jimmy hit a ball into the mezzanine…a towering high blast.  But he wasn’t finished.  In the 6th he slammed a ball out of the park in the left field power alley becoming the first Astro ever to hit two home runs in a game at the Astrodome.

He still wasn’t finished.  In the 8th inning he squeezed his third home run of the game just above the fence and inside the left field foul pole to give the Astros another run in their win.

Jimmy would go on to hit 37 home runs that year but lose the HR title to Hank Aaron who hit 39.  Aaron played at Atlanta Fulton County Stadium, “the launching pad.”  He hit 23 at home that year.  Wynn hit 15 at the Astrodome.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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About gregclucas

Author, "Baseball-Its More Than a Game" available through Amazon.com, BN.com or by order. Veteran sportscaster with extensive play by play experience in MLB, NBA and college sports. "Houston to Cooperstown- The Houston Astros' Biggio & Bagwell Years" is available at many Barnes and Noble stores, Costco, Sam's Club and other selected locations. Also can be ordered through Amazon as hard copy of Kindle.
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