When Tigers fans think of no-hitters, visions of Justin Verlander immediately come to mind
Verlander has thrown two no-hitters in his career. A feat that few have accomplished wearing the Old English D.
The first, in 2007, was at home against the Brewers and featured a dazzling display of triple digit fastballs that dominated Milwaukee’s lineup.
Verlander was so dominant that night, that he was throwing 101MPH darts in the 9th inning. He finished the game with twelve strikeouts.
Four years later, Verlander no-hit the Blue Jays at Rogers Centre to become the second Tiger to throw multiple no-hitters.
I was fortunate to be behind the mic for both no-hitters. I still have the scorecard from the first one against the Brewers and had it autographed by Verlander. I was honored when the Hall of Fame asked if I would donate the scoresheet from his second one against the Blue Jays.
Before Verlander, the last Tiger to throw two no hitters was Virgil Trucks in the 1950’s. There is one difference though. Trucks threw his in the same season.
The year was 1952 and although he was un-hittable in two of his starts, Trucks would lose a whopping 19 games that year. Hard to reconcile that in your mind, but true nonetheless. It’s not often you throw two no-hitters and lose nearly 20 games in the same season. Born in 1917 in Birmingham, Alabama, Trucks would pitch 17 seasons in the major leagues, twelve of those with the Tigers.
While he was a solid winner in a Tigers uniform (he won 114 games in 12 seasons) his confounding 1952 campaign remains head scratching.
Trucks, who threw four no-hitters in the minor leagues, certainly had it in him. He fired the second of his no-hitters that year in a 1-0 win over the Yankees at Yankee Stadium. He entered the game against the reigning World Series champions with a 4-15 record.
A no hitter that day was the unlikeliest of scenarios.
It also came with a bit of controversy. Phil Rizutto reached on an error in the third inning, but it was changed to a hit only to be reversed again in the 8th inning.
The August 25th no-hitter came three months after Trucks no-hit the Senators in May, also 1-0.
When the Hall of Fame contacted Trucks for the baseballs, they seemed unimpressed to a degree.
“I sent an autographed ball from each [no-hitter] to the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, and they made me pay the postage,” Trucks noted in his 2004 autobiography.
The Yankees would shake off the no-hitter and go on win their fourth straight World Series that year while the Tigers suffered through a miserable 104-loss season.
Personally for Trucks, it was campaign that featured one of the most unusual seasons for a pitcher.
The strangeness wouldn’t end there though. The Tigers would trade Trucks to the St. Louis Browns that offseason, just three months after throwing the two no-hitters. Odd, but then again that describes perfectly the entire 1952 season for Trucks and the Tigers.