Chicago Cubs: Ranking Alec Mills’ no-hitter in history

MILWAUKEE, WISCONSIN - SEPTEMBER 13: Alec Mills #30 of the Chicago Cubs pitches in the first inning against the Milwaukee Brewers at Miller Park on September 13, 2020 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images)
MILWAUKEE, WISCONSIN - SEPTEMBER 13: Alec Mills #30 of the Chicago Cubs pitches in the first inning against the Milwaukee Brewers at Miller Park on September 13, 2020 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images) /
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(Photo by Jon Durr/Getty Images)
(Photo by Jon Durr/Getty Images) /

Tied with a score of 86 are Chicago Cubs vets Walter Thornton and Sam Jones.

Thornton was a pitcher-outfielder who went 13-10 for the team known at the time as the Orphans. One of his final appearances came August 21 in the second game of a doubleheader against the Brooklyn Dodgers at Chicago’s West Side Park. Chicago won 10-0.

Thornton only struck out two, but he only walked one opponent. The Dodgers’ only other baserunner came on a fielding error by Chicago center fielder Bill Lange.

Jones’ 1955 no-hitter against the Pittsburgh Pirates was memorable for at least two reasons. In completing the feat, he became the first African-American to do so. He also intensified the drama with one of the most remarkable ninth innings even muddled through by a no-hit pitcher.

On a rainy day at Wrigley Field, only 2,918 paid to actually see the game. Through the first eight innings, Jones had walked four and his teammates had played errorless ball behind him. The Chicago Cubs led 4-0 thanks to RBIs by Ernie Banks, Ted Tappe, and Eddie Miksis. Gene Freese batted first for the Pirates in the ninth, fouled off a bunt attempt, then took four bad pitches for a base on balls.

The next batter, Preston Ward, worked a 2-2 count before Jones threw a wild pitch, sending Freese to second.  Ward walked on the next pitch.

Tom Saffell, a rookie, batted third and he also walked, loading the bases. With relievers busy in the Cubs bullpen, manager Stan Hack called time and met Jones for a mound conference.

Whatever Hack told Jones, it worked. With the bases full and both the no-hitter and game on the line, he struck out Dick Groat looking at a curveball, fanned Roberto Clemente, and got Frank Thomas to go down looking at another curve.

With a no-hitter on the line, Jones had walked the bases full…then struck out the side.