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Great championship games: Bret Saberhagen pitches a no-hitter in 1982 City final

Bret Saberhagen, shown in a recent photo, threw a no-hitter for Cleveland High in the 1982 City championship baseball game at Dodger Stadium.
(Twitter)

With the spring high school sports season canceled, prep columnist Eric Sondheimer is looking back on some of the most memorable championship games in Southern California history.

It’s June 14, 1982. Randy Rosenbloom is at Dodger Stadium for the City Section championship baseball game. He’s calling the play-by-play for KGOE radio in Thousand Oaks.

“Hello and welcome to beautiful Dodger Stadium as tonight Cleveland and star pitcher Bret Saberhagen face Palisades for the L.A. City Section baseball championship.”

Rosenbloom and everyone else had no clue how historic the game would turn out to be.

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Saberhagen pitched the first and only no-hitter in the history of the City championship game at Dodger Stadium, leading Cleveland to a 13-0 win over Palisades. He retired 21 of 22 batters, with only an error preventing a perfect game.

“It’s a moment I tell my kids about and will tell my grandkids about,” home plate umpire Larry Obar said 20 years later.

Steve Kerr, coach of the Golden State Warriors, was one of the Palisades hitters who were helpless against Saberhagen, who was drafted in the 19th round by the Kansas City Royals and started the year 8-0 after arm problems.

Saberhagen showed the pinpoint control that he would have in the major leagues, striking out eight and retiring the final 20 batters after the first-inning error. He’d win two American League Cy Young Awards with the Kansas City Royals.

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Saberhagen was thrust into the media spotlight. He was handed the phone in the Dodgers dugout.

“Somebody said, ‘Hey, the president is on the phone,’” Saberhagen said.

It was actually KNBC-TV calling. It wanted Saberhagen to appear live with sportscaster Stu Nahan on its 11 p.m. telecast. It was the finishing touch to a dreamlike day.

Meanwhile, Rosenbloom was trying to think what Vin Scully did calling a Sandy Koufax no-hitter.

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“Saberhagen is on the verge of history. Trying to no-hit Dolphins. Bret Saberhagen has retired 19 in a row. He is one out away from the title. Here’s the windup and the pitch. The bunt is down in front of the plate. Catcher Glen Newhouse is out to get it, picks it up, throws to Markland at first. He’s out. It’s a no-hitter and a championship for Saberhagen and the Cavaliers.”

Rosenbloom would go on to work with Saberhagen in the Dodger Stadium press box in another championship game 20 years later.


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