MLB: My most memorable games

CHICAGO - CIRCA 1999: Randy Johnson #51 of the Arizona Diamondbacks pitches during an MLB game at Wrigley Field in Chicago, Illinois. Johnson played for 22 years with 6 different and was a 10-time All-Star, a 5-time Cy Young Award winner and was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2015. (Photo by SPX/Ron Vesely Photography via Getty Images)
CHICAGO - CIRCA 1999: Randy Johnson #51 of the Arizona Diamondbacks pitches during an MLB game at Wrigley Field in Chicago, Illinois. Johnson played for 22 years with 6 different and was a 10-time All-Star, a 5-time Cy Young Award winner and was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2015. (Photo by SPX/Ron Vesely Photography via Getty Images) /
facebooktwitterreddit
Prev
5 of 5
Next
Randy Johnson pitching for the Arizona Diamondbacks. I got my no-hitter, but not from him. MIKE FIALA/AFP via Getty Images)
Randy Johnson pitching for the Arizona Diamondbacks. I got my no-hitter, but not from him. MIKE FIALA/AFP via Getty Images) /

St. Louis Cardinals vs. Arizona Diamondbacks, June 25, 1999, Bank One Ballpark, Phoenix

Approaching my 50th birthday, I am an established baseball researcher and author attending a conference of folks with similar aptitudes in Phoenix. Naturally, a group trip to a ballgame is in order.

Many, like me, had never actually witnessed an MLB no-hitter. But on this day there is a certain additional buzz to the ballgame. Randy Johnson is taking the mound for the Diamondbacks, and when Randy Johnson pitched the idea of something memorable could never be dismissed before the fact.

We got our no-hitter that day; just not from Randy Johnson.

Johnson was opposed by Jose Jimenez, a 25-year-old from the Dominican Republic on his way to a 5-14 in his first full season with the Cardinals. Jimenez’s big league career would not survive seven seasons, his 24-44 career record and 4.92 ERA doing him in.

He really only had one good day. This happened to be it.

Through three innings, Jimenez matched Johnson pitch for pitch. The only baserunners were Steve Finley, walked by Jimenez in the second inning, and Andy Fox, hit by Jimenez in the third.

In the fourth, Joe McEwing broke through against Johnson with a double into left. Most of us wrote off our chances of seeing a no-hitter at that moment. But McEwing died at third and the game continued scoreless.

Johnson gave up hits in both the fifth and sixth, but each time escaped unscathed. By now most of us had taken notice that Jimenez looked pretty good, too. Not a D-Back had reached base against him since Fox back in the third.

With one out in the seventh Jimenez walked Luis Gonzalez, but got a double play ball out of Matt Williams to quell that threat. He breezed through the eighth, sending the game scoreless (and nearly hitless) into the ninth.

In the top of that ninth, Johnson walked Darren Bragg and Mark McGwire with one out. He fanned Eric Davis, but gave up a ground single to Thomas Howard, pushing Bragg across with the game’s first run.  McGwire killed the prospect of further damage by being thrown out trying to take third.

Now the crowd approaching 46,000 was on its feet … and for a visiting pitcher. Jimenez worked with a calmness belying the situation. He got Fox on a called third strike, retired David Dellucci on a fly ball to short right, and coaxed an easy grounder out of Tony Womack.

Next. Braves 29 runs not an NL record. dark

Randy Johnson had thrown a complete game, allowed just five hits – yet been beaten because somebody few of us had heard of had thrown a no-hitter against him.