Undated (AP) _ Harvey Haddix has lost his no-hitter, but not his place in baseball history.
An eight-man committee on statistical accuracy, chaired by commissioner Fay Vincent, ruled Wednesday on what qualifies as a no-hitter as far as Major League Baseball is concerned.
The panel voted unanimously to define no-hitters as games of nine innings or more that ended with no hits. That dropped 50 disputed games from the list, leaving 225 no-hitters in major-league history.
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 of those was on May 26, 1959, when Haddix pitched 12 perfect innings for Pittsburgh against Milwaukee. He lost 1-0 in the 13th on an error, a sacrifice and Joe Adcock’s RBI double.
For baseball romantics, though, Haddix will always have a no-hitter in their eyes. The Sporting News record-keepers think so, too.
″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.″
But just about everywhere Haddix goes, he’s introduced as the man who tossed 12 perfect innings and a no-hitter. He got used to the fame.
″It’s disappointing to find out it’s not a no-hitter, but it’s still the record,″ Haddix said. ″Most consecutive perfect innings, most consecutive batters retired.″
The no-hit reformers even wiped out an entire family.
The Perez brothers, Melido and Pascual, each had tossed rain-shortened no- hitters. Melido’s came last year and was part of a record nine no-hitters - until the ruling reduced the number to seven.
″I don’t know why the commissioner took away my no-hitter,″ said Melido, who pitched six hitless innings for the White Sox at Yankee Stadium on July 12, 1990. ″It doesn’t make sense. I think my brother had a five-inning no- hitter. So that means he loses one too. Nobody has explained it to me. If the rule is you have to pitch nine innings, maybe next year when I start again, I can do it. I have it no more, but you have to live with it.″
Pascual pitched a five-inning no-hitter in 1988 against Philadelphia while with Montreal.
″What can I do; it’s their decision,″ Pascual said. ″It was a good thing and I’ll keep it in my book. Now it’s too late to take it away from me. I have the tape and I have the ball and I’ll keep the no-hitter in my heart.″
The Perez brothers got some sympathy from White Sox catcher Carlton Fisk.
″Is it ridiculous? It sure is,″ said Fisk, who caught Melido’s game. ″He earned it. Doesn’t it go down in the book as a six-inning no-hitter? I don’t know why they have to delete those. It’s just something I can’t comprehend. They were official games, weren’t they?″
Chicago general manager Ron Schueler agreed it was a bad decision.
″It seems like they’re sitting around there trying to invent things to do rather than let baseball remain the way it is,″ he said. ″It’s going to be tough on Melido. All of a sudden, a year later, they decide to change it.″
Andy Hawkins comes out a double loser now. He pitched eight no-hit innings for the Yankees at the old Comiskey Park last July 1 and lost the game 4-0 on two outfield errors. Now Hawkins has also lost the no-hitter because it wasn’t nine innings.
″We felt the ninth inning was significant,″ Vincent said. ″So many games lose no-hit status in the ninth inning.″
The deletion of Hawkins from the no-hit list means Ken Johnson again stands alone as the only pitcher to lose a no-hitter.
Among some of the bigger names losing no-hitters are Walter Johnson, Rube Waddell, Jim Maloney (who still has two), Bobo Newsom and Dean Chance.
On June 14, 1965, Maloney pitched 10 no-hit innings for Cincinnati against New York. The Mets beat the Reds on Johnny Lewis’ leadoff home run in the 11th.
″When you get 10 innings of no-hit ball and get beat in the 11th, you don’t know if you’re going to get back there again,″ Maloney said.
He did so only two months later, winning a 10-inning no-hitter against the Cubs on Leo Cardenas’ home run off the left-field foul pole at Wrigley Field. Maloney pitched a nine-inning no-hitter for the Reds against the Astros in 1969.
″All along, I’ve known I threw two legitimate no-hitters that I won,″ Maloney said. ″It’s a tough league.″
The definition of a no-hitter became an issue on July 26, when Mark Gardner pitched nine hitless innings for Montreal against Los Angeles but lost the no- hitter and the game in the 10th. That brought up a dispute on what exactly a no-hitter was.
Now we know.
But most baseball fans may still think Haddix pitched a perfect game. Harvey probably thinks so, too.