Tagged: Preston Gomez

Clay Kirby and The Padres’ Lack of a No-Hitter


Sorry for the 2-week+ hiatus there, I’ve been busy working and Helping Vince and such.  With Matt Garza throwing the fifth no-hitter of 2010 this week and the first in Rays history, there’s been some talk about the two remaining franchises without no-hitters- the New York Mets and the San Diego Padres. Each has their own curse or “legitimate reason” if you will that explains why they have not thrown a no-hitter while many other teams have thrown several.

The Mets seem to always come up in discussions of mishaps and missed opportunities.  They are talked about more than the Padres in this no-hitter discussion not only because they are seven years older (1962), but because they have had much better pitchers over the years.  Of David Cone, Tom Seaver, Johan Santana and others, none have been able to make it the whole nine innings.  The Mets, of course, notoriously traded Nolan Ryan in 1971, who would go on to throw seven no-hitters throughout the course of his Hall of Fame career.  In the article linked above, Noble mentions that David Cone came close in 1991.  The link to that game is here.  9 innings, 11 K’s, 131 pitches, but a double to Felix Jose ruins it in the 8th inning.  Three starts later, in his final start that year, Cone again pitched a complete game, this time allowing 3 hits and striking out 19 batters.  For those who read my Game Score post, this one registered a 99 – wow.  
The Padres story is much more heart-wrenching, and therefore intriguing.  On July 21, 1970 (the article says July 20, but I’m certain it’s incorrect), Clay Kirby of the Padres took a textbook hard-luck loss.  In the first inning of the game against the Mets, a run squeaked across on a ground ball out after two walks and three steals.  Fast forward to the bottom of the 8th inning, and the Padres are still losing 1-0, Kirby has yet to allow a hit, and he is due up to hit with 2 outs.  Manager Preston Gomez decided to pinch-hit with Cito Gaston, the current manager for the Toronto Blue Jays, who promptly struck out to end the inning.  The Padres lost the game 3-0 and still have that goose egg in the no-hitter column.  
The game was a fluke for Kirby, who finished his career with a 3.84 ERA.  His best year came in 1971 when he finished at 15-13 with a 2.83 ERA and 13 complete games.  Kirby makes it on to a few of the Padres’ all-time leaderboards, although mostly not ones you want to be on.  He is 2nd in Padres history in walks with 505 and the leader in wild pitches with 48.  It wasn’t all bad for Kirby though- he does place 7th all-time for the Padres in hits/9, K/9, and innings pitched, while placing 6th in shutouts and 3rd in complete games with 34.  
As a side note, I love baseball cards (surprising, isn’t it?).  I’m going to start including pictures of baseball cards with each post.  This one is the Clay Kirby from the 1972 Topps set.  I think the layout of the card is great, although it would be better if the player’s position was included somewhere.  Oh, and if the colors were even remotely relevant to the team.  Interestingly enough, almost as if I planned it this way, the back of the card makes mention of Kirby’s near no-hitter from 1970, and mentions another game from September 18, 1971 in which he threw a 1-hitter and won 2-1 against the Giants.  The back of the card is below.
But anyway, if anyone out there wants to talk about/trade/buy/give me baseball cards, that would make my day.