First and foremost, I want to wish all my readers a Happy and healthy Thanksgiving. Please join me in not trying to eat all the food on the entire planet. Until a couple of years ago this was not a concern. But having lost 50 pounds this year, it would be helpful for me not to put it all back eating my sister’s cooking. As for you, gentle reader, you are why I keep writing the column, why I opened the Facebook group “Baseball As I See It,” and why I am writing a book about my career behind the microphone.
Also, we say goodbye to a knuckleballer who managed to throw a 9-inning no-hitter and lose. This is difficult to do. But in 1964, for the then Houston Colt .45s he did it. Kenneth Travis Johnson passed away last Saturday in Louisiana. While the Colt .45s had a gun logo on their hat, they had a popgun offense at best. Add to that the fact that Colt Stadium was a large park, common for baseball at that time, and a 0-0 tie after 8 innings was no big shock. Ken Johnson and Joe Nuxhall, the Reds’ lefty and future broadcaster had matched zeros. In the 9th, Pete Rose reached second on a Johnson error. He took third on a grounder and scored on an error by future Hall of Famer Nellie Fox at second base for the .45s. No other man than Ken Johnson has pitched a 9-inning complete game no-hitter and lost. Andy Hawkins of the Yankees only threw 8 innings losing 4-0 giving no hits to the White Sox in 1990.
Besides the no-hitter, which was the highlight of his Houston tenure Johnson pitched for the Kansas City Athletics, the Reds, the Braves, Yankees, Cubs and Expos. Considering how bad those teams were when he was there, it’s no surprise he finished up 91-106 lifetime. R I P.1