HomeTrending MLB NewsThe most unexpected MLB pitchers who threw a no-hitter or perfect game

The most unexpected MLB pitchers who threw a no-hitter or perfect game

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The no-hitter and perfect game in Major League Baseball knows no bounds.. It doesn’t matter how efficient or attractive said performances look, both are still a special moment in the game.

Here’s our list, in chronological order, of the 25 most unlikely no-hitters and perfect games in MLB history.

 

1 of 25

George “Iron” Davis, Boston Braves (1914)

Society for American Baseball Research

Davis appeared in 36 major-league games spanning four seasons from 1912-15, and earned just seven winning decisions. However, one of those victories came on Sept. 9, 1914, when the Boston Braves’ right-hander no-hit the Philadelphia Phillies during a 7-0 win. Davis, who attended Harvard Law School during his major-league career and served in World War I after his career ended, achieved the milestone despite issuing five walks to Phillies’ hitters. He also struck out four on the day.

 

2 of 25

Charlie Robertson, Chicago White Sox (1922)

Charlie Robertson, Chicago White Sox (1922)

George Rinhart/Corbis via Getty Images

Robertson made his major-league debut with one appearance for the Chicago White Sox in 1919, then was away from the majors, and the club, in 1922. On April 30 that year, in his fourth MLB start, the right-hander tossed a perfect game during Chicago’s 2-0 victory at Detroit. Robertson struck out six in what was the only perfect game recorded in the majors between 1908 (by Addie Joss) and Don Larsen’s historic World Series gem from 1956.

 

3 of 25

Dıck Fowler, Philadelphia Athletics (1945)

Dıck Fowler, Philadelphia Athletics (1945)

Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum

Fowler enjoyed a rather serviceable major-league career, all with Philadelphia, from 1941-52. Though it took some time, the Canadian right-hander twice won 15 games (1948, ’49), but the crown jewel of his baseball career came during his third season when the verdict was still out on Fowler’s promise. On Sept. 9, 1945, making his first start in three seasons, Fowler no-hit the St. Louis Browns at home. He walk four that day, but also fanned six during the milestone moment.

 

4 of 25

Ed Head, Brooklyn Dodgers (1946)

Ed Head, Brooklyn Dodgers (1946)

Society for American Baseball Research

The story of Ed Head is both interesting and inspiring. At 15 years old, Head nearly had his left arm amputated following an auto accident. A natural lefty, Head taught himself to throw right-handed and eventually made his way to the majors in 1940 with Brooklyn. Head endured an up-and-down career that spanned parts of five seasons. However, after returning from serving time in the Army, Head appeared in 13 games during the 1946 season. And, in his first outing since July 1944, Head no-hit the Boston Braves, despite yielding three walks, in the Dodgers’ 5-0 victory on April 23.

 

5 of 25

Don Black, Cleveland Indians (1947)

Don Black, Cleveland Indians (1947)

Cleveland.com

Another under-the-radar major leaguer with an interesting back story. Black pitched six seasons from 1943-48, and following a stint in Alcoholics Anonymous, put together a stellar outing for Cleveland against the Chicago White Sox on July 10, 1947. On that day, the right-hander didn’t let six walks hurt him or his team, while not allowing a hit during a 3-0 victory. A year later, Black suffered a cerebral hemorrhage, which ended his playing career.

 

6 of 25

Bill McCahan, Philadelphia Athletics (1947)

Bill McCahan, Philadelphia Athletics (1947)

Bettmann/Contributor/Getty Images

McCahan’s major-league career spanned four seasons (1946-49), 57 appearances and 40 starts. The right-hander’s only winning season came in 1947, when he went 10-5 with a 3.32 ERA in 29 games — 19 starts. The highlight of that season, and McCahan’s career, came on Sept. 3, when he came an Athletics’ infield-throwing error away from throwing a perfect game against the Washington Senators. McCahan settled for no-hitter in the 3-0 win, less than one month after he earned the loss during the aforementioned no-no from Don Black.

 

7 of 25

Rex Barney, Brooklyn Dodgers (1948)

Rex Barney, Brooklyn Dodgers (1948)

Bettmann/Contributor/Getty Images

It can be argued that Barney was destined for such a moment. He debuted with the Dodgers in 1943, served in the military, returned to the majors in 1946, then enjoyed his best season in ’48, with 15 wins in 44 games — 34 starts. That included his no-hitter thrown on Sept. 9, when he yielded two walks while facing 29 batters and sitting through a one-hour rain delay, during a 2-0 victory over the rival New York Giants. After making just 20 appearances in 1950, Barney was out of baseball, but he later enjoyed a distinguished career as the public address announcer for the Baltimore Orioles (1969-97).

 

8 of 25

Alva “Bobo” Holloman, St. Louis Browns (1953)

Alva "Bobo" Holloman, St. Louis Browns (1953)

St. Louis Post-Dispatch/Baseball Almanac

When it comes to unlikely no-hit performers, Holloman might take the prize. A World War II veteran, Holloman began his professional baseball career in 1946, but his only major-league service time came in 1953. Hurling for the 100-loss St. Louis Browns in 1953, the right-hander pitched in 22 games, with 10 starts. Adding to his lore, Holloman recorded a no-hitter in his first big-league start on May 6, 1953, when he overcame five walks during a 6-0 victory over the Philadelphia A’s. A lasting memory to a brief major-league career.

 

9 of 25

Bo Belinsky, Los Angeles Angels (1962)

Bo Belinsky, Los Angeles Angels (1962)

Hy Peskin/Getty Images

Belinsky made quite an initial impression by winning the first five starts of his major-league career in 1962. In his fourth start on May 5, the left-hander tossed a no-hitter to endear himself further to Angels fans. Facing the Baltimore Orioles at home, Belinsky struck out nine and allowed only two walks during the 2-0 win. Belinsky won 10 games that season, and two years later went 9-8. But he struggled with consistency in the years that followed, and was out of baseball after just three appearances in 1970.

 

10 of 25

Don Nottebart, Houston Colt .45s (1963)

Don Nottebart, Houston Colt .45s (1963)

Houston Chronicle

Nottebart spent his first three major-league seasons with the Milwaukee Braves, before landing in Houston in 1963, where he enjoyed the best season of a big-league career that had ended by 1970, going 11-8 with a 3.17 ERA in 31 games — and a career-high 27 starts. That ’63 campaign was highlighted by his unique no-hit effort — the first in .45s history — in a 4-1 victory over the Philadelphia Phillies on May 17. Nottebart walked three and struck out eight. Meanwhile, that Phillies’ run was unearned, after Don Demeter reached on an error in the fifth inning and eventually scored via Don Hoak’s sacrifice fly.  

 

11 of 25

Dave Morehead, Boston Red Sox (1965)

Dave Morehead, Boston Red Sox (1965)

Focus on Sport/Getty Images

Morehead endured a rather uneven path through his first three MLB seasons with Boston. He pitched a shutout in his major-league debut in 1963, when he went 10-13 with a 3.81 ERA. A season later, the right-hander went 8-15 with a 4.97 ERA. Then in 1965, Morehead lost 18 games, but won 10 and outdueled Cleveland’s Luis Tiant while throwing a no-hitter during the Red Sox’s 2-0 victory on Sept. 16. Morehead, who allowed only a walk in that contest, won just 12 games in the next five seasons before his big-league career ended following the 1970 campaign.

 

12 of 25

George Culver, Cincinnati Reds (1968)

George Culver, Cincinnati Reds (1968)

Redleg Nation

The journeyman Culver pitched part of nine MLB seasons with six different teams. The right-hander’s most notable season as a starting pitcher came in 1968, when he made 35 starts amid 42 appearances, and went 11-16 with a 3.22 ERA for the Reds. On July 29, 1968, Culver gutted out a no-hitter during a 6-1 win at Philadelphia. The right-hander issued five walks and overcame three Cincinnati errors to go the distance without yielding a hit in the most memorable moment of his career.

 

13 of 25

Ed Halicki, San Francisco Giants (1975)

Ed Halicki, San Francisco Giants (1975)

Jerry Telfer/San Francisco Chronicle via Getty Images

Halicki had a respectable major-league career from 1974-80, nearly the whole time coming with San Francisco. The right-hander posted back-to-back double-digit win seasons in 1976 and ’77, but before then Halicki delivered the most memorable moment of his big-league career. On Aug. 24, 1975, Halicki was brilliant during the Giants’ 6-0 home win over the New York Mets, striking out 10 with two walks against an opposing lineup that included Rusty Staub, Del Unser, Felix Milan and Dave Kingman. 

 

14 of 25

Mike Warren, Oakland A’s (1983)

Mike Warren, Oakland A's (1983)

YouTube

Three seasons, 52 games, 27 starts. That was the extent of Warren’s major-league career. However, Warren should never be forgotten by true Athletics fans. On Sept. 29, in his final start of the 1983 season, the right-hander etched his name in Major League Baseball history by no-hitting the Chicago White Sox. Warren walked three and struck out five while stymieing Chicago hitters in what was actually his third start of the season. He pitched in just 40 more games over the next two years before his big-league career ended.

 

15 of 25

Joe Cowley, Chicago White Sox (1986)

Joe Cowley, Chicago White Sox (1986)

YouTube

The 1986 season saw Cowley on this third major-league team in his fourth campaign. However, he was coming off a promising 12-6 run with the New York Yankees from 1985, and had already posted 10 wins in 1986 before the highlight of his career. On Sept. 19, Cowley notched his 11th and final win of the season while also no-hitting the California Angels, despite allowing a run and seven walks. It was one of the uglier no-hitters in MLB history, but Cowley did fan eight in the 7-1 road victory.

 

16 of 25

Juan Nieves, Milwaukee Brewers (1987)

Juan Nieves, Milwaukee Brewers (1987)

Major League Baseball

Nieves is responsible the first, and to this date, only solo no-hitter in Milwaukee Brewers history. The left-hander pitched just three seasons in the majors, with the second of that trifecta the best of the lot. In ’87, Nieves went 14-8 in 34 games — 33 starts — and no-hit the Baltimore Orioles on April 15 in his second start of the year, and on the road. Nieves walked five, but fanned seven while facing 31 batters and throwing 128 pitches during the 7-0 victory against the Orioles. 

 

17 of 25

Jose Jimenez, St. Louis Cardinals (1999)

Jose Jimenez, St. Louis Cardinals (1999)

Sporting News via Getty Images via Getty Images

Perhaps the most impressive thing about Jimenez’s no-hitter against the Arizona Diamondbacks on June 25, 1999 was that Jimenez outdueled the great Randy Johnson in the 1-0 Cardinals’ road win. Johnson allowed an earned run in the top of the ninth, five hits, tow walks and struck out 14, but Jimenez, in his second season, was even better. The right-hander issued two walks and fanned eight while not yielding a single hit over 101 pitches to an Arizona order that featured the likes of Luis Gonzalez and Matt Williams. 

 

18 of 25

Bud Smith, St. Louis Cardinals (2001)

Bud Smith, St. Louis Cardinals (2001)

Elsa/ALLSPORT/Getty Images

Sticking with the Cardinals. Smith showed tremendous promise during his first major-league season in 2001, and highlighted it with the only complete game among his 24 career starts, which spanned two seasons. The left-hander also happened to throw a no-hitter during that contest, overcoming four walks, and striking out seven, during a 4-0 victory at San Diego — not far from his Torrance, Calif., home. Smith, though, was never able to build on that moment, and was out of the majors by 2003. 

 

19 of 25

Edwin Jackson, Arizona Diamondbacks (2010)

Edwin Jackson, Arizona Diamondbacks (2010)

Mike Carlson/Icon Sportswire

Jackson put together quite a remarkable major-league career. The stats: 17 seasons, 14 different teams, 412 games, 318 starts, a 107-133 record, an All-Star appearance, World Series title and one of the more unusual no-hitters ever recorded. That no-no for Jackson came on June 25, 2010 at Tampa Bay. The right-hander walked eight and hit a batter, while also striking out six, in throwing a ridiculous 149 pitches during Arizona’s 1-0 victory over the Rays. Though certainly not the prettiest no-hitter in MLB history, it remains one of the most talked about.  

 

20 of 25

Philip Humber, Chicago White Sox (2012)

Philip Humber, Chicago White Sox (2012)

Steven Bisig/USA TODAY Sports

Perhaps even more unlikely than the aforementioned Edwin Jackson’s no-hitter, was the perfect game Humber posted on April 21, 2012, at Seattle. The right-hander was on his fourth team, and prior to 2011 with Chicago, had appeared in 26 games in his first five seasons. But, in his second start of the 2012 campaign, Humber struck out nine and baffled Mariners hitters. And, of course, there was some obligatory drama. On the last pitch of the game, Seattle’s Brendan Ryan was called out on a check-swing third strike, where the ball nearly reached the back stop, but instead of completing his run to first base, argued with home-plate umpire Brian Runge. Chicago catcher A.J. Pierzynski picked up the ball and threw it to first to complete the perfecto.

 

21 of 25

Chris Heston, San Francisco Giants (2015)

Chris Heston, San Francisco Giants (2015)

YouTube

Making the 12th of his 33 major-league starts, and amid the most extensive and successful season of a career that lasted just four years, Heston recorded one of the more unique no-hitters of all time. On June 9, 2015, in a road game against the New York Mets, Heston faced 29 batters, but did not yield a walk during his no-hit bid. However, he did hit three Mets batters, but also struck out 11, while throwing 110 pitches during the San Francisco Giants’ 5-0 victory. 

 

22 of 25

Alec Mills, Chicago Cubs (2020)

Alec Mills, Chicago Cubs (2020)

Michael McLoone/USA TODAY Sports

Pitching in front of an empty stadium in Milwaukee, unless we’re counting the cardboard cutouts scattered throughout the seats, the most memorable moment of Alec Mills’ major-league career came during the COVID-shortened 2020 campaign. In his only complete big-league game to date, the right-hander stymied the Brewers, allowing three walks and striking out five on 114 pitches in a 12-0 Chicago victory on Sept. 13, 2020. It was the 16th no-hitter in Cubs history, but as of 2024, Mills was no longer affiliated with a major-league club. 

 

23 of 25

Tyler Gilbert, Arizona Diamondbacks (2021)

Tyler Gilbert, Arizona Diamondbacks (2021)

Joe Camporeale/USA TODAY Sports

Prior to making his first start on Aug. 14, 2021, Gilbert had three major-league mound appearances under his belt. By the end of that initial start, unlikely history was made. By no-hitting the San Diego Padres on that August day in Arizona, Gilbert became the second pitcher since 1900 to record a no-hitter in his first major-league start. The left-hander walked three and struck out five while throwing 102 pitches in the Diamondbacks’ 7-0 victory over the Padres. Gilbert, though, made just 12 starts since, and in January 2024, signed a minor-league contract with Cincinnati.

 

24 of 25

Domingo German, New York Yankees (2023)

Domingo German, New York Yankees (2023)

Stan Szeto/USA TODAY Sports

On June 22, 2023, German allowed 10 runs and eight hits in 3 1/3 innings of New York’s 10-2 home loss to Seattle. Six days later, German became the fourth pitcher in the storied history of the Yankees franchise to throw a perfect game. Completely shutting down the Oakland A’s on the road, and striking out nine over 99 pitches, the 30-year-old right-hander became the 24th major leaguer to toss a perfect game and first from the Dominican Republic. German, though, pitched just five more times for the Yankees in 2023, and has not been in the majors since. 

 

25 of 25

Ronel Blanco, Houston Astros (2024)

Ronel Blanco, Houston Astros (2024)

Troy Taormina/USA TODAY Sports

In his first start of the 2024 season, and eighth of his career, the 30-year-old Blanco, who won two of his previous seven starts from 2022 and ’23, and never completed more than six innings in any of those outings, tossed the first no-hitter of the new campaign on April 1. And he did so against a potent Toronto Blue Jays lineup that pounded out 10 hits and nine runs a day earlier at Tampa Bay. The right-hander only walked two and struck out seven, including Vladimir Guerrero Jr. three times, while throwing a rather economical 105 pitches during Houston’s 10-0 rout of the Blue Jays. 

A Chicago native, Jeff Mezydlo has professionally written about sports, entertainment and pop culture for nearly 30 years. If he could do it again, he’d attend Degrassi Junior High, Ampipe High and Grand Lakes University.

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