Beyond the Monster: Hideo Nomo's No-Hit Debut for the Red Sox


Beyond the Monster is an ongoing series where we take you back in time and look at moments in Red Sox history.

The Red Sox had an interesting offseason back in December in 2000.  That offseason former Red Sox General Manager Dan Duquette signed Manny Ramirez to a record eight-year deal for $160 million dollars.  At the time this was the second largest contract handed out in baseball history.  While that signing received the big fanfare it deserved at the time, the Red Sox also made another very under the radar signing that offseason. 

The Red Sox signed former 1995 NL Rookie of the Year Hideo Nomo to a one-year deal for $4.5 million.  “I'm going with the Red Sox because they have a strong chance to go to the World Series”, said the right-hander at the time of the signing.  Nomo was coming off a year that he finished 8-12 and had a 4.74 ERA with the Tigers.  He finished that season with 188 strikeouts, which led the Tigers and was the sixth-most in the AL.

The Red Sox opened the 2001 season on the road in Baltimore against the Orioles.  The Sox dropped the first game of the season 2-1 in 11 innings.  The second game of the season would come on April 4 and would feature a pitching match-up of Hideo Nomo and Sidney Ponson.
Photo courtesy of Eagle Tribune

The Sox were ravaged by pitching injuries in spring training.  Manager Jimy Williams opted with Nomo to start the second game of the year and he would not be disappointed.  Red Sox fans would not be disappointed either, as not only would we get a Nomo No-No, Don Orsillo would call his first game of his Red Sox broadcast career.

The game started off slow for Nomo on the mound, but he would gain strength and look solid as the start progressed.  The Orioles made solid contact off Nomo but were not able to solve the righty.  In the first inning, the only player to reach base was Delino DeShields who reached on a walk.
 In the second inning Nomo retired shortstop Melvin Mora on a fly ball that hit the centerfield warning track.  Red Sox outfielder Carl Everett tracked that fly ball by Mora crushed to center. 

Nomo would go on to end that inning striking out Orioles catcher Brook Fordyce, who became one of Nomo’s 11 strikeout victims.

Shop the Mother's Day Collection at MLBshop.comAs the game rolled on Nomo began to dominate the game.  By the sixth inning he would get great command of his fastball, forkball and splitter.  Nomo would strike out eight Orioles batters from the sixth through the eighth inning.

The Orioles struggled to make any contact off Nomo, re-watching this game, the harder they swung the more frustrated they became.

Red Sox first baseman Brian Daubach beat Ponson with a pair of home runs, an opposite-field, two-run shot in the third and a bases-empty homer wrapped around the right-field foul pole in the eighth inning.

The ninth inning rolled around with one out in the ninth and Nomo facing Mike Bordick.  The crowd was electric at Camden Yards watching Nomo try and toss a no-no.

Orsillo welcomed in ESPN’ Baseball Tonight viewers to watch what Nomo was about to do.  Orsillo would say to the baseball world, “I’d like to welcome ESPN’s Baseball Tonight viewers to our telecast.”

Nomo threw a 2-1 pitch and Bordick blooped a ball to shallow centerfield and Red Sox second baseman Mike Lansing made a great running catch to secure the no-hit bid.  ''I saw the location of the ball and the position of Lansing and I had confidence that Lansing would catch it” said Lansing to the Baltimore Sun following the game recapping Bordick’s bloop.

DeShields, Nomo’s former teammate in Dodgers, tok a pitch from the righty to left and Orsillo made his first of many famous Red Sox calls; "Lifted in the air to left, O'Leary coming on and Hideo Nomo has no-hit the Baltimore Orioles!"

This was the second no-hitter of 
Nomo’s career, and the 35,602 fans at Camden applauded him.

“Today was my first time throwing for the Boston Red Sox, and I am obviously very happy with my performance.  I wasn't thinking of a no-hitter tonight,'' Nomo said through a translator.  'I was just concentrating to throw a first-pitch strike” said Nomo.

For his catcher, Jason Varitek, this would be the first of four no-hitters he would catch over the course of his career.

"The guy threw a no-hitter.  He mixed it up pretty good," said Sidney Ponson, who allowed only four hits in 7 1/3 innings as the Orioles' starter last night.  "I'm pretty happy, but we lost, so I'm happy and sad."

Nomo finished the season 13-10, and led the AL with 220 strikeouts.  He also led the league with 96 walks.  He would go on to pitch two one-hit games for the Red Sox that season, including flirting with his second no-hitter of the year against the Twins, but he ended up giving up a hit, walking five and striking out eight Twins batters.

I will never forget watching that no-no live, and I’ll forever cherish the voice of Orsillo and his time with the Red Sox.  It was sad to learn a few years ago when he moved on from Boston due to his contract not being renewed.  A blunder by Red Sox ownership for not keeping Orsillo.

Orsillo can say he was the only Red Sox broadcaster to call his first game and have it be a no-hitter.  He called the Jon Lester and Clay Buchholz no-hitters in consecutive seasons, and was the voice behind three World Series Championships in 2004, 2007 and 2013.  He also called some of David Ortiz’s most iconic regular season hits.

Nomo’s no-no was the beginning of a very special career for Orsillo, and one all of Red Sox Nation have come to miss and appreciate.

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Boston Sports Syndicate: Beyond the Monster: Hideo Nomo's No-Hit Debut for the Red Sox
Beyond the Monster: Hideo Nomo's No-Hit Debut for the Red Sox
Boston Sports Syndicate
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