White Sox add to illustrious AL history
Club's 'Nixey' Callahan threw league's first no-hitter in 1902
Say this about Mark Buehrle's no-hitter Wednesday night. At least it was as conventional as no-no's go compared to the last three tossed by Chicago White Sox pitchers.
Buehrle's masterpiece, the 16th no-hitter in club history, came close to perfection. The only baserunner he allowed was Sammy Sosa, who walked and was promptly picked off first, which resulted in the White Sox left-hander facing the minimum 27 batters.
The circumstances surrounding the most recent White Sox no-hitters were a bit more unusual.
The last White Sox no-hitter was tossed by Wilson Alvarez, on Aug. 11, 1991. What made this one interesting was that it was Alvarez's debut with the White Sox and just his second Major League game.
Alvarez made his debut as a 19-year-old in 1989 with the Rangers. He allowed a single, back-to-back homers and two walks in that game, then was traded to the White Sox on July 29 of that year in a deal that sent sent Sosa and Harold Baines to the Rangers. His ERA at the time was listed as "inf," for infinity.
The Sox recalled the left-hander in 1991 and his first start with the Sox occurred in Baltimore's Memorial Stadium before a crowd of 40,455. He waled five and struck out seven, but didn't allow a hit.
"Let's just say I got a couple lucky breaks today," Alvarez said at the time. "They hit some bullets right at people."
Beset off and on with arm injuries, Alvarez went on to a 14-year career that included stops with the Giants, Devil Rays and Dodgers. He finished with a 102-92 record and 3.96 ERA with 1,300 strikeouts in 355 games.
The White Sox no-hitter preceding Alvarez's was tossed by right-hander Joe Cowley, on Sept. 19, 1986. It would be his last Major League victory.
Cowley, who had been sent to the Minors earlier in the 1986 season, beat the Angels in Anaheim, 7-1. He walked seven and allowed a sacrifice fly.
Cowley led the White Sox with 11 wins that season and set an American League record by striking out the first seven Rangers he faced in a game. The Sox gave up on Cowley and his history of control problems the following spring, when they sent him to the Phillies for outfielder Gary Redus. In one month with the Phillies, he went 0-4 with a 15.43 ERA. In 15 2/3 innings, he allowed 21 hits and walked 17. He was sent to the Minors and never returned.
While Alvarez and Cowley each had unique situations either before or after his no-hitter, it took two pitchers to throw the no-hitter that preceded theirs.
The date was July 28, 1976, and the scene was Oakland, where a crowd of just over 3,300 witnessed the combination no-hitter thrown by White Sox pitchers John "Blue Moon" Odom and Francisco Barrios.
Perhaps setting a precedent for being effectively wild that Cowley would emulate, Odom walked nine and allowed a run in five innings. Barrios pitched the last four innings more effectively, walking two. At the time, it was the fourth combined no-hitter in American League history.
Of note in that game: The leadoff batter for the White Sox was right fielder Jerry Hairston. Involved in a close play at first base in Wednesday night's gem pitched by Buehrle was his son, Jerry Hairston Jr., of the Rangers.
The last White Sox no-hitter in Chicago was thrown by Joel Horlen on Sept. 10, 1967, against the Tigers. He didn't allow a walk, but hit one batter and another reached on an error. He won 19 games that year, finished second to Jim Lonborg in the Cy Young voting and fourth in MVP voting behind Carl Yastrzemski in his Triple Crown year.
The last no-hitter thrown by a Chicago pitcher in the city of Chicago was was on Sept. 2, 1972, by Milt Pappas of the Cubs against the Padres. That was the Cubs' second no-hitter that season, following Burt Hooton's gem on April 16 vs. Philadelphia.
White Sox right-hander James Joseph "Nixey" Callahan pitched the first no-hitter in American League history on Sept. 20, 1902, beating the Tigers. He'd jumped from the NL Colts to the AL Sox the year before and in 1903 became the team's manager and third baseman at age 29.
With 16 no-hitters, the White Sox are tied with the Red Sox for the most in AL history for games of at least nine innings.
The Sox have had one perfect game in their history, authored by Charles Robertson in 1922 against Detroit.
Paul Bodi is Executive Editor/East Clubs for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.