The Philadelphia Phillies have an illustrious history of no-hitters. Perhaps so incredible, that we regularly forget about one of the most amazing individual performances in MLB history, one put together by a Phillies righty.
There are two perfect games in Phillies history; Hall of Famer Jim Bunning on Father’s Day 1964 and Hall of Famer Roy Halladay on May 29, 2010. Later in that same season, Halladay joined Don Larsen as the only pitchers to throw no-hitters in the postseason. For as incredible as those three no-hitters are – two of which, again, were perfect games – there’s an argument to be made that another no-hitter is the most impressive in Phillies history.
While Halladay’s postseason no-hitter came against a Cincinnati Reds team that included 2010 National League MVP Joey Votto, Scott Rolen, Jay Bruce and Brandon Phillips, Phillies righty Rick Wise no-hit a lineup that featured core pieces of what would become “The Big Red Machine” on June 23, 1971 at Riverfront Stadium in Cincy.
Granted, the Reds only went 79-83 in a disappointing 1971 season, but Sparky Anderson’s squad had won 102 games the previous season and would win 95 or more games in each of the next five years en route to becoming one of the most dominant teams in MLB history.
On that day, Wise pitched to contact about as well as you possibly can. He only struck out three batters the entire game, and yet he managed to hold a lineup that consisted of Johnny Bench, Pete Rose, Tony Perez, George Foster, Lee May, Hal McRae, Tommy Helms and Dave Concepcion hitless. Over the course of their respective careers, the lineup that Wise no-hit combined for three Rookie of the Year Awards, four MVPs and a staggering 60 All-Star Game appearances. Bench and Perez are Hall of Famers, and Rose, of course, would be if evaluated solely on his production as a player.
If no-hitting that type of lineup wasn’t enough, Wise helped his cause at the plate that day. While it’s impressive that the aforementioned Halladay drove a run in during his postseason no-hitter, Wise drove in three of the Phillies four runs during his no-hitter, slugging two home runs. The only other run the Phillies scored that day came off the bat of future Wall of Famer John Vukovich, who also caught a line drive hit by Rose to third base for the final out of the game.
1971 wasn’t exactly a banner season for the Phillies, who would go just 67-95. However, Wise, a year before Steve Carlton joined the Phillies, put together a strong campaign. Across 272.1 innings, Wise went 17-14 with a 2.88 ERA, 3.08 FIP and 4.6 fWAR. Wise was the Phillies lone representative for the 1971 All-Star Game at Tiger Stadium, where he was teammates on the National League team with Bench, Rose and May, all of whom were in the lineup when he no-hit the Reds. Reds reliever Clay Carroll, who gave up Wise’s second home run of the game, was also an All-Star.
In MLB history, there are 302 documented no-hitters. Is Wise’s the most dominant performance simply based on how he pitched? Probably not. However, in a sport that increasingly seems headed for a universal DH, it’s unlikely that anyone will ever join Wise in the no-hitter/two home run club.
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