Roger Maris finally got baseball’s single-season home run record to himself Wednesday, and Harvey Haddix and Mark Gardner were kicked off baseball’s no-hit list.
An eight-man committee on statistical accuracy voted unanimously to drop the asterisk beside Maris’ 61 home runs, formally eliminating Babe Ruth’s record of 60 homers from the record books. The panel also voted unanimously to define no-hitters as games of nine innings or more that ended with no hits. That dropped 50 games from the list, leaving 225 no-hitters in major league history.
Commissioner Fay Vincent, who chairs the committee, decided to push for the elimination of the asterisk after reading an article earlier this year by Roger Angell of the New Yorker. Maris, who died in 1985, felt slighted by the asterisk.
The asterisk issue came about on July 17, 1961, when Maris had 35 homers and was three weeks ahead of Ruth’s pace. It was the first season under the 162-game schedule and Commissioner Ford Frick, a friend of Ruth, ruled the record could be broken only within 154 games. Maris hit No. 61 in the final game of the season.
The definition of a no-hitter became an issue on July 26, when Gardner pitched nine hitless innings for Montreal against the Dodgers but lost the no-hitter and the game in the 10th.
There have been 38 shortened no-hitters and 12 games in which pitchers threw nine no-hit innings only to give up a hit in extra innings. The most celebrated was on May 26, 1959, when Haddix pitched 12 perfect innings for the Pittsburgh Pirates against the Milwaukee Braves. He lost, 1-0, in the 13th on an error, a sacrifice and Joe Adcock’s RBI double.
“I’d probably say that it wasn’t a a no-hitter because it wasn’t a complete game,” Haddix said. “When you think about it, that would be correct.
“It’s disappointing to find out it’s not a no-hitter, but it’s still the record. Most consecutive perfect innings, most consecutive batters retired.”
Among the shortened no-hitters is that of Andy Hawkins, then of the Yankees, who on July 1, 1990, allowed the Chicago White Sox no hits, but lost, 4-0. Hawkins, on the visiting team, never got to pitch the ninth inning.
The committee also decided that Ernie Shore not be credited with a perfect game for his performance on June 23, 1917, for the Boston Red Sox against Washington. After Ruth walked the first batter and was ejected, Shore got a double play and retired the remaining batters in order. It will be counted as a combined no-hitter.