This Week in Baseball History: April 19-25

Losing a no-hitter? Inconceivable!

April 19, 2013 – Jean Segura Steals First Base


Jean Segura has a knack for weird adventures on the basepaths. Such oddities include scoring from first on a wild pitch to moving from second to third when the Marlins throw over to first to get him out. But on April 19, 2013, Segura did something that I’ve never seen before or since.

In the eighth inning, with the Brewers ahead 5-4, Segura slapped a lead-off single in between short and third. Next up was Ryan Braun, who was right in his prime following his MVP win in 2011 and runner-up finish in 2012. On the fifth pitch of the AB, Segura cleanly stole second. Braun worked a walk on the next pitch, bringing up Rickie Weeks with the chance to pad the lead.

But before Weeks could put the ball in play, Segura got caught too far off second base and found himself in quite the pickle. He returned to second base, but Braun was already occupying the bag. Luis Valbuena applied the tag to both runners, and Braun was correctly ruled out. But Segura mistakenly thought he was out and started jogging back to the dugout before he realized what happened and found himself standing on first base yet again.


According to the Rule 5.09(b)(10), any runner who “runs the bases in reverse order for the purpose of confusing the defense or making a travesty of the game” shall be ruled out. But for some reason in this situation, the umps allow Segura to steal first base (the MLB later said that the umps made the incorrect call).

But Segura’s journey doesn’t stop there. After Weeks struck out and Jonathan Lucroy came up with two outs, Segura tried stealing second again — just nine pitches after he previously stole that same base. But this time the Cubs had Segura dead to rights with a nice throw and tag, and the inning was over.


April 20, 1912 – Fenway Park Opening Day


April 20 is a historic day in Red Sox lore. On that date in 2013, David Ortiz gave his famed speech following the Boston Marathon bombing. 74 years earlierTed Williams made his major league debut. And 27 years before that, Fenway Park hosted its very first Opening Day.

The Red Sox had played at the old Huntington Avenue Grounds since their first season in 1901 as the Boston Americans. That stadium was host to a couple landmark moments in baseball history, such as the first ever World Series in 1903 and Cy Young’s perfect game in 1904.

But in 1911, Red Sox owner John I. Taylor was hoping to sell the team and wanted to make some money along the way. It was also clear that the team couldn’t depend on the wooden Huntington Avenue Grounds as a long-term solution.

“You were lucky if you had a wooden ballpark that lasted 20 years without a major fire,” said author Glenn Stout in a story by the Boston Globe.

Taylor decided upon building a new state-of-the-art stadium in Boston’ Fenway neighborhood. However, the April 20, 1912 opening of this new landmark was overshadowed by another historic event that happened just five days prior: the sinking of the Titanic.

Just 24,000 fans filled Fenway Park (11,000 short of full capacity) for this Opening Day game against the New York Highlanders. Some fans watched the game from the field, standing behind the outfield ropes to get a closer look. This was more common in the dead-ball era as few players actually hit home runs over the outfield fence.

Boston sent Buck O’Brien to the mound to start against New York’s Ray Caldwell. O’Brien struggled mightily, giving up five runs in three innings against a Highlanders offense that was arguably the worst in baseball that year (team WAR of just 2.9). Boston brought Charley Hall on in relief in the fifth, and he silenced the Highlanders’ bats for almost the rest of the game. Hall came in clutch at the plate, knocking in a game tying run in the sixth.

The score remained close and the game headed into extra innings tied 6-6. In the bottom of the 11th, Hall of Famer Tris Speaker stepped up to the plate with Steve Yerkes representing the winning run at third. Speaker and Yerkes had led the charge in the Red Sox comeback, batting a combined 7-for-12 up to the point. And Speaker, who has the sixth best career batting average (.345), knocked Yerkes in for a walk-off win against the Highlanders.

1912 was a great year for Boston and Fenway Park. Not only did the Red Sox lead the majors with a 105-47 record, but they ended up christening the new stadium with their second World Series championship.


April 21, 2012 – Philip Humber’s Perfect Game


23 pitchers have thrown a perfect game. This exclusive group includes multiple inner circle HOFers, from Cy Young to Randy Johnson to Sandy Koufax. Don’t forget about the many Hall of Very Good members, like Mark BuehrleDavid Cone and Matt Cain.

But perhaps the most unique member of that club is Philip Humber. This journeyman pitcher had a long and winding journey toward being enshrined among baseball greatest.

He was first drafted in 2001 in the 29th round by the Yankees, but he decided to go to Rice University where he formed a three-headed monster of a pitching staff with his teammates Wade Townsend and Jeff Niemann. That team won the 2003 College World Series.

Humber pitched three seasons at Rice, posting a 35-8 record with a 2.80 ERA and 422 Ks over 353.7 IP. This excellent resume caused the Mets to select Humber the third overall pick of the 2004 MLB draft.


Injuries derailed Humber’s minor league career, and he could never quite find a spot with regular playing time in the Mets starting rotation. From 2006 to 2007, Humber threw just nine innings of 6 ERA ball. Before the 2008 season, the Mets kicked off Humber’s journey across the AL Central by trading the former highly-touted prospect to the Twins in a package for Johan Santana.

Humber’s time in Minnesota was the same story as New York. Then the Royals gave him a look, but couldn’t make anything work. Finally, the White Sox acquired Humber before the 2011 season, which ended up being the best season of his career: 9-9 record, 3.75 ERA/3.58 FIP, 1.178 WHIP, 116 K:41 BB over 163 IP. Going into 2012, the White Sox and Humber had reasons to be optimistic.

After a solid first start (5.1 IP, 1 ER, 6 H, 3 BB, 7 K), Humber faced off against the Mariners in Safeco Field on April 21. The 2012 Mariners were not a good offense. In fact, they finished the year tied for the third-worst wRC+ (87). That probably explains why the stadium was under half capacity for this lazy Saturday day game. Those lucky 22,472 fans who showed up witnessed perfection.


The Mariners made plenty of contact with Humber’s pitches. But the BABIP gods did not smile upon Seattle that day. No matter where they hit it, the ball always found its way into a mitt. Humber induced just five ground outs the entire game. The ball just seemed to come off their bats completely dead and the White Sox defense was never really tested.

To his credit, Humber’s stuff was clearly working as he tied his career high of nine strikeouts — all of them swinging. The most stressful moment of the entire day with 26 outs down as Humber just had to retire Brendan Ryan to achieve baseball immortality.

After finding himself down 1-2, Ryan worked the count full as Humber kept missing outside. On the seventh pitch of the AB, Humber threw a 85 MPH slider way off the plate, and Ryan tried to check his swing. But the HP umpire Brian Runge, perhaps trying to avoid another Jim Joyce situation, said that Ryan swung.

Ryan, who was mid-trot to first, stopped for a moment in disbelief. This gave A.J. Pierzynski enough time to recover the ball and finish up the 27th out.


Humber channeled his inner Buehrle as he needed just two hours and 17 minutes to pitch the perfecto.

Just how unlikely was this game? Well, Humber has the lowest career ERA+ (81) of any pitcher to throw a perfect game. Over the rest of the 2012 season, Humber had a 7.39 ERA over 87.2 IP. Just two years later, Humber would be out of the majors.


April 23, 1964 – Ken Johnson’s No-Hitter Loss


There have been 307 no-hitters. Only one pitcher has thrown a nine-inning no-hitter and lost. That unfortunate soul is Ken Johnson with the Houston Colt .45s.

This Houston franchise first debuted in 1962, and for the first seven years of their existence they ranked among the worst in all of baseball. From ’62 to ’69, they had a .418 win percentage. Johnson was a solid starter during his Houston tenure, posting a 3.41 ERA/2.89 FIP over 690.2 IP in his four seasons with the team. The highlight of his career came during his April 23, 1964 start against the Cincinnati Reds. But can you really call it a highlight if his team ended up losing?

The game started innocuously enough, with Johnson working two outs before issuing a walk to Vada Pinson. But Johnson avoided trouble as he struck out Frank Robinson to end the inning. The Reds starter that day, Joe Nuxhall (aka the youngest player in MLB history at age 15), also worked his way out of some trouble in the first. But after that point, both pitchers locked down the opposing offenses.

Both pitchers combined faced just one more than the minimum through the next six innings. After Johnson finished the top of the seventh, he realized he had a no-hitter going. He asked his teammate Don Nottebart, who previously threw a no-hitter, “How’s a guy supposed to feel, Notty? What do you do?”

“Stay loose and keep going,” Nottebart answered back.

In the bottom of the seventh, the Colt .45s had a chance to finally score the first run of the game with runners on the corners and no one out. But a double play and fly out quickly iced that chance.

Enter the top of the ninth. Johnson retired Nuxhall for out one. The next batter, Pete Rose, laid a bunt down the third base line, and Johnson made an errant throw to first which allowed Rose to reach second. Rose moved to third after the next batter lined an out right off of Johnson’s shin. And with two outs, Johnson got Pinson to ground out to second baseman Nellie Fox, a Hall of Famer with three Gold Gloves. But Fox bobbled the ball, allowing Pinson to reach and Rose to score.

The Colt .45s were now down 1 – 0. In the bottom of the ninth, Houston went down without much of a fight as Nuxhall struck out the last batter looking to win the game. Here is Gene Elston, voice of the Colts .45s, calling the final out.


And just like that, Johnson became the proud owner of the only nine-inning, no-hitter loss by one pitcher in history.

If you want to listen to the rest of the radio broadcast from this game, you can check it out here.


April 23, 1999 – Tatis Sr.’s 2 Grand Slams, 1 Inning 


Once upon a time, a budding star named Fernando Tatis lit up the majors his electric play style. No, not that Tatis who’s doing it right now. I’m talking about his dad, who made history almost 22 years ago to this day.

Tatis Sr. first made his debut with the Texas Rangers in 1997, but he couldn’t quite break out during his brief tenure with the team (150 games, .264/.301/.378, 73 OPS+). In 1998, the 23-year-old Tatis Sr. got traded to St. Louis at the deadline, and he seemed to immediately turn a corner with his new team. Throughout the rest of that season, Tatis Sr. batted .287/.367/.505 (127 OPS+) over 55 games.

In 1999, Tatis Sr. built upon his newfound success with a red hot start to the season. Tatis Sr. had a homer in each of the first three games, recording seven runs and six RBIs in that time. Over the first two weeks, he hit .250/.390/.542. The Cardinals entered their April 23 matchup against the Dodgers hoping to pad their division-leading 9-5 record.

After two innings, the Cardinals found themselves down 2-0 after their young starter Jose Jimenez gave up a couple sac flies to Gary Sheffield and Todd Hundley. But in the top of the third, they quickly battled back against the Dodgers’ starter Chan Ho Park.

Darren Bragg hit a lead off single, and the Park plunked Edgar Rentería, putting two runners on for a prime Mark McGwire. Big Mac blooped a single to RF off an 0-1 pitch, loading the bases for Tatis Sr.

Up to that point, Tatis Sr. had never hit a grand slam as he went 5-for-21 with the bases juiced. But on an 0 – 1 meatball from Park, Tatis Sr. parked that pitch deeeeep into the LF bullpen for a grand slam.

But he wasn’t done there. Park continued to struggle throughout the third, and Dodgers manager Davey Johnson refused to pull him for some reason. Eight batters and three runs later, and Tatis Sr. came up with another bases loaded opportunity against Park. You can guess what happened next.


Tatis Sr. is still the first and only player to ever hit two grand slams in one inning, and off the same pitcher nonetheless. His eight RBI that inning is still a MLB record. Those two at-bats also account for 1.8% of his career HR (113) and RBI (448) totals.

1999 proved to be Tatis Sr.’s best season, finishing the year with a stat line that is quite comparable to the start of Fernando Tatis Jr.’s career so far:

Tatis Sr. 1999 639 104 34 107 21:9 82:128 .298/.404/.553 141 3.2
Tatis Jr. 2019 – 21 664 117 41 100 27:10 61:184 .292/.366/.569 145 6.2


Like father, like son. And honestly, if you asked me which current player has the best chance to hit two grand slams in one inning, Tatis Jr. would be my top pick.


Featured image designed by James Peterson (Follow @jhp_design714 on Instagram and Twitter)

Alex Kleinman

Journalist who loves the Yankees and the Bears. One gives me strength, the other leads me to existential dread. When I'm not obsessing over baseball, you can find me at a concert, hiking in a National Park or chasing my dog, Frankie, who has probably stolen one of my socks.

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