Ryan Has Won Some, Lost Some in Scorebook


Scoring decisions affected two no-hit bids by Nolan Ryan, who is the leader in no-hitters with six, but Ryan said the plays were scored correctly--and he is glad that he lost another no-hit bid that were preserved by an incorrect call.

That incident took place on July 13, 1979, at Anaheim Stadium, with Ryan, then with the Angels, facing the New York Yankees in a nationally televised game.

Ryan won, 6-1, and gave up only one hit, a ninth-inning single by Reggie Jackson. The controversy occurred in the eighth inning when Jim Spencer hit a line drive to center field, where Rick Miller attempted a sliding catch. The ball hit Miller’s glove but bounced away.


Official scorer Dick Miller of the Herald Examiner (no relation to Rick) ruled it an error. The repercussions were immediate. Buzzie Bavasi, then general manager of the Angels, stormed into the press box and accused Miller of embarrassing his organization.

Sports editors throughout the country recognized the conflict of interest inherent in allowing their reporters to score games and accelerated the process that has virtually eliminated reporters as scorers.

“My impression was that the only reason Dick considered that an error was because I had a no-hitter in progress, but in my opinion the circumstances shouldn’t dictate the decision,” Ryan said. “Rick Miller did everything he could to catch the ball, and I’m glad the game turned out as it did (with Jackson later getting his hit) because I wouldn’t have wanted the no-hitter under the circumstances.”

The two other games Ryan recalled:

--On Aug. 29, 1973, pitching against the Yankees at Anaheim Stadium, Ryan saw Thurman Munson hit a first-inning pop fly that shortstop Rudy Meoli and second baseman Sandy Alomar called for. The ball fell between them on the outfield grass behind second base, the only hit in a 5-0 victory.

--On Aug. 7, 1974, pitching against the White Sox in Chicago, Ryan was within two outs of a no-hitter when Dick Allen hit a slow roller to charging third baseman Meoli, who had trouble getting the ball from his glove and was unable to throw out Allen on a play that was ruled a hit, touching off an unlikely series of events leading to a 2-1 defeat.

Ryan said the Allen grounder was ruled correctly because it would have taken Brooks Robinson to make the play, and there was no other way to call the Munson’s pop-up short of a team error, which is not permissible in the rules.

“That game stands out the most,” Ryan said. “The ball should have been caught. Why should the pitcher be penalized? What happens if a catchable ball opens the floodgates? Why should the pitcher be charged with six or seven runs?”

Ryan said he has always attempted to take scoring and umpiring decisions in stride, and that he objects to scoring decisions only when the scorer fails to get other opinions on difficult calls.