By Dave Wischnowsky-
(CBS) It’s been 104 years since the Chicago Cubs last won a World Series and, just as remarkably, 67 years since they’ve even been to one. But, hey, it’s also been nearly 47 years since the last time the Cubs were unable to scratch out a hit.
So, you know, at least they’ve got that going for them.
(In Wrigleyville these days, you take what you can get.)
On Tuesday night, 35-year-old Pirates hurler A.J. Burnett – who tossed a no-hitter for Florida in 2001 – held the Cubs hitless into the eighth inning at Wrigley Field before rookie pinch-hitter Adrian Cardenas lashed a one-out single to avoid the no-no bid.
And to keep one of sports’ more remarkable streaks alive.
As you probably heard, the Cubs have now gotten a hit in every contest since Sept. 9, 1965, when Dodgers Hall of Famer Sandy Koufax twirled a perfect game against them out in Los Angeles. With Wednesday’s box score – and Starlin Castro’s first-inning home run – in the books, that streak now stands at MLB-record 7,442 games.
For some perspective, that’s 454 games shy of tripling Cal Ripken’s 2,632-game Iron Man streak, 133 times as long as Joe DiMaggio’s 56-game hitting streak and nearly 1,000 games better than the next best active streak (the Reds with 6,551).
Who says the Cubs can’t string success together?
With the North Siders’ hitting streak in the news this week, I thought that today I’d share with you some additional facts and details related to it that you might not know about. So, let’s step up to the plate – and connect with them.
Here on Aug. 2, 2012, the Cubs now stand just 39 days shy of reaching exactly 47 years since they last suffered the embarrassment of a no-hitter. (In the interim, they’ve instead suffered every other kind of embarrassment.)
Behind the Cubs, the second longest streak – in terms of calendar days – without falling victim to a no-no belongs to the New York Yankees, who enjoyed a spell of 44 years, 263 days between nine-inning no-hitters.
The Yanks’ run began on Sept. 21, 1958 – a day after Hall of Famer Hoyt Wilhelm no-hit them – and lasted until June 10, 2003, when six Astros pitchers combined to stymie the Bronx Bombers.
That Yankees’ streak was a bit of a misnomer, however, as the team actually was no-hit in a rain-shortened game on 13 years earlier on July 12, 1990, after a run of 31 years, 294 days.
Historically, the Cardinals’ are the only other team with a hitting streak close to the Cubs, St. Louis got a hit in every game from May 12, 1919, through May 14, 1960, a stretch of 41 years, three days.
A total of 120 no-hitters have been throw in the majors since the Cubs were stifled by Koufax and Chicago has narrowly avoided adding to that list with its lineup recording 22 one-hitters since September 1965.
Historically, every modern-era Major League team has had at least two no-hitters pitched against them. But Forbes Field – the home of the Pittsburgh Pirates from the middle of the 1909 season through the middle of 1970 – is the only long-term home field that never hosted a no-hitter.
Several recently built MLB parks have not yet seen a no-hitter, but only two stadiums in existence for at least a decade have hosted just one: Camden Yards in Baltimore and Coors Field in Denver. Ironically, in both parks, the only pitcher to throw a no-hitter is Hideo Nomo.
By the way, the last time the Cubs were no-hit at home was also during the ’65 season when the Reds’ Jim Maloney turned the trick on Aug. 19.
Koufax with a ‘K’
During his perfect game against the Cubs, the great Koufax was never greater as he struck out 14 Cubs, including a combined six against Hall of Famers Billy Williams, Ernie Banks and Ron Santo.
Perhaps even more impressively, Koufax also struck out the final six batters of the game – a feat that caused timeless Dodgers broadcaster Vin Scully to remark after the final out, “So when he wrote his name in capital letters in the record books that ‘K’ stands out even more than the O-U-F-A-X.”
What’s forgotten from that game, however, is that Cubs pitcher Bob Hendley was almost as good as Koufax. Hendley held the Dodgers to just one hit while ending up on the wrong side of a 1-0 shutout – and history.
Oddly enough, that hit didn’t even factor into the game’s lone run. Through four innings, both Hendley and Koufax were perfect. However, in the fifth, Hendley walked Los Angeles lead-off man Lou Johnson, who was then sacrificed over to second base on a bunt by Ron Fairly.
With future Cubs manager Jim Lefebvre at plate, Johnson then attempted to steal third but then raced home when the throw from the Cubs’ rookie catcher Chris Krug sailed into the outfield. Two innings later, Johnson also notched the game’s only hit with a two-out double.
And after that, the rest was history.
If nothing else, Dave Wischnowsky is an Illinois boy. Raised in Bourbonnais, educated at the University of Illinois and bred on sports in the Land of Lincoln, he now resides on Chicago’s North Side, just blocks from Wrigley Field. Formerly a reporter and blogger for the Chicago Tribune, Dave currently writes a syndicated column, The Wisch List, which you can check out via his blog at http://www.wischlist.com. Follow him on Twitter @wischlist and read more of his CBS Chicago blog entries here.