Ranking the all-time Red Sox no-hitters

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By Alex Barth, 985TheSportsHub.com

Baseball is rare in that sometimes, the most exciting game is one where nothing happens. There’s no other sport where you’d brag about being in attendance when the other team did, again, nothing. A no-hitter can turn into a drop-everything-and-watch moment.

With baseball’s "COVID season" approaching, one that should favor pitchers due to a shortened preseason, we could certainly be in line to see plenty of nothing this summer.

Although their pitching staff isn’t quite the 1998 Braves, the Red Sox play in a very no-hitter friendly park. The 14 no-no’s at Fenway is a major league record.

Ranking All 18 Red Sox No-Hitters

Before they add one this summer, here’s a ranking of all 18 no-hitters thrown by Red Sox pitchers - going as far back as 1904.

Honorable Mention No. 1: Matt Young, 1992 vs. Cleveland Indians

Matt Young K's Mark Whiten, goes eight no-hit innings

4/12/92: Red Sox pitcher Matt Young strikes out Mark Whiten to complete eight innings of no-hit ball About Major League Baseball: Major League Baseball (MLB)...

On a chilly April afternoon off the banks of Lake Erie, Matt Young entered the history books as the third pitcher in baseball history to not allow a hit ... and lose. Young issued seven walks (including three to leadoff hitter Kenny Lofton) and hit a batter, which spotted the Tribe two runs. The Sox had nine hits of their own, but were only able to muster one run.

According to Major League Baseball, a no-hitter is defined as a pitcher throwing “at least nine innings” without allowing a hit. Because the Red Sox were on the road and trailing, Cleveland did not have to bat in the bottom of the ninth, meaning Young only threw eight innings, and his "no-hitter" was rendered unofficial in the eyes of baseball history.

Honorable Mention 2: Six pitchers, 2000 vs. Toronto Blue Jays

The second ‘unofficial’ Red Sox no-hitter came eight years later, in March of 2000. Yes, March.

On March 14, 2000, Pedro Martinez took the ball for the Red Sox in a Spring Training game against the Toronto Blue Jays. Martinez threw three innings, striking out six.

He was relieved by Fernando De La Cruz, a 29-year-old journeyman minor leaguer trying to earn a spot in the Red Sox bullpen. De La Cruz went six up, six down before being replaced by Dan Smith, who threw a spotless inning of his own.

Rheal Cormier came in and threw a clean seventh, followed by "El Guapo" Rich Garces, who retired the side in the eighth. Finally, the late Rod Beck shut the door with a two-strikeout ninth, completing the first and only perfect game in Spring Training history. Because Spring Training games are "unofficial" games in the eyes of Major League Baseball, the perfect game is also viewed as "unofficial."

18. Bill Dinneen, 1905 vs. White Sox

Red Sox lefty Bill Dinneen’s Sept. 1905 no-hitter was as ho-hum as no-hitters come. That year’s White Sox team was among the worst in the league offensively, and that’s compounded by the fact it was in the dead ball era. 

17. Jesse Tannehill, 1904 vs. White Sox

The White Sox didn’t have much turnover between 1904 and 1905, meaning Jesse Tannehill faced virtually the same team Dinneen would no-hit a year later. For Tannehill though, the takes may have been a little higher - his brother Lee was in the starting lineup for Chicago.

16. Dutch Leonard, 1916 vs. St. Louis Browns

This was the first of Dutch Leonard’s two no-hitters for the Red Sox. Cy Young is the only other player with multiple no-nos in a Red Sox uniform. He issued two walks to a below-average Browns lineup while striking out three in a 4-0 win.

15. Rube Foster, 1916 vs. New York Yankees

Fenway Park’s first no-hitter saw Rube Foster set down the Yankees while issuing just a pair of walks. That year’s Yankee lineup included Wally Pipp (yes, that Wally Pipp), who led the league with 12 (!) home runs that season.

14. Smokey Joe Wood, 1911 vs. St. Louis Browns

Smokey Joe Wood’s 12 strikeouts is still the highest mark of all Red Sox no-hitters. So why isn’t this game higher? Adjusting for era, this is far and away the worst offensive team the Sox have ever no-hit, with a season batting average .027 below the league average (the next closest is .016).

It was also the first true “Red Sox” no-hitter, as the previous four had come when the team was still called the Boston Americans.

13. Dutch Leonard, 1918 vs. Detroit Tigers

Dutch Leonard struck out four Tigers and allowed just one baserunner in his second no-hitter with the Red Sox. It didn’t hurt that Hall of Famer Ty Cobb didn’t start that day, although Leonard did retire him once when Cobb pinch-hit late in the game.

12. Derek Lowe, 2002 vs. Tampa Bay Devil Rays

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History made!OTD in 2002, Derek Lowe pitched the first no-hitter at Fenway Park in 37 years. pic.twitter.com/dP31j28r0z

A third-inning walk is all that prevented Derek Lowe from throwing the second perfect game in Red Sox history. It was the highlight of what may have been the best single season of Lowe’s career.

11. Earl Wilson, 1962 vs. Los Angeles Angels

What makes Earl Wilson’s performance in June 1962 so impressive isn’t just what he did on the mound (four walks, five strikeouts), but at the plate. In his first at-bat of the game, Wilson took Angels starter Bo Belinsky deep for what proved to be the winning run in a 2-0 game.

He became just the fourth pitcher in Major League history to hit a home run and throw a no-hitter in the same game, a feat that has only been matched once since (Rick Wise, 1971). 

10. Howard Ehmke, 1923 vs. Philadelphia Athletics

Howard Ehmke allowed just one baserunner (a walk) against the Athletics on Sept. 7, 1923. Pretty impressive, right? Well what if I told you that in his next start, just four days later, he threw a one-hitter, allowing just two runners against the Yankees.

The Red Sox starter's one hit allowed in an 18-inning span is second only to the Reds’ Johnny Vander Meer, who threw back-to-back no-hitters in 1938, the only pitcher ever to do so.

9. Hideo Nomo, 2001 vs. Baltimore Orioles

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"Hideo Nomo has spun the no-no against the Orioles."#OTD in 2001, Hideo Nomo threw the earliest no-hitter in MLB history. #RedSox pic.twitter.com/j3Sh68e1iu

Early April starts normally serve as build-up for starting pitchers, who usually don’t hit their groove until mid-May. That wasn’t the case for Hideo Nomo, who no-hit the Baltimore Orioles in just the second game of the season, not to mention his Red Sox debut. April 4 is still the earliest occurrence for a no-hitter on the calendar. 

Nomo struck out 11 while allowing just four baserunners, and held Hall of Famer Cal Ripken to an 0-3 day in what was the first no-no in Camden Yards history. The effort for the Red Sox was the second of two no-hitters in Nomo's career, after he threw one in 1996 with the Dodgers.

8. Bill Monbouquette, 1962 vs. Chicago White Sox

Bill Monbouquette nearly ended up in a situation similar to Matt Young. Pitching on the road, the game was tied 0-0 heading into the eighth inning, meaning as he was nearing the 27th out, the decision of the game was not yet locked up. However, the Red Sox got him a run in the top of the eighth, which proved to be the difference.

The 1-0 win is the smallest margin of victory of all Red Sox no-hitters. Despite the close game, Monboquette pitched exceptionally well, allowing just one runner on a second-inning walk while striking out seven hitters.

7. Dave Morehead, 1965 vs. Indians

As a rough 1965 Red Sox season was coming to a close, Dave Morehead gave fans something to smile about on the same day the team fired General Manager Pinky Higgins. A second-inning walk was the only baserunner Morehead allowed in eight strikeout performance. 

The opposing pitcher was 24-year-old future Red Sox Hall of Famer Luis Tiant, who also threw a complete game, allowing two runs and striking out 11.

6. Cy Young, 1908 vs. New York Highlanders

Young walked only one batter, who was promptly caught stealing, meaning he faced the minimum 27 hitters in his second no-hitter. He also went 3-5 at the plate, driving in four of Boston’s eight runs in the game. 

At 41-years-old, Young was the oldest pitcher to throw a no-hitter, and would hold that mark until Nolan Ryan topped him 82 years later.

5. Clay Buchholz, 2007 vs. Baltimore Orioles

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9-1-07 a young Clay Buchholz throws a no-hitter in only his 2nf Major League start. That 12-6 was filthy ???????? #RedSox pic.twitter.com/YZWR9nC4rQ

In just his second career start, Clay Buchholz no-hit a Baltimore Orioles team that had an above average offense for the season, including former AL MVP Miguel Tejada. The 22-year-old walked three batters and hit another, but a double-play and pickoff helped him stay out of any real trouble.

The real drama in this one was that Buchholz, as one of the organization’s top prospects, had a 120-pitch limit imposed by then-general manager Theo Epstein. He and manager Terry Francona spoke throughout the game about how to handle the situation, as Epstein was nervous about exhausting Buchholz and causing long-term damage to his arm.

The game ended up only taking 115 pitches (his previous season high for pitches thrown was 98), and Francona was spared a tough decision. Would he have let the youngster finish? We may never know. 

Buchholz is one of only three pitchers in major league history to throw a no-hitter in his first or second-ever start, and the only one to do so post-1900.

4. Jon Lester, 2008 vs. Kansas City Royals

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May 19, 2008Jon Lester throws a no-hitter as the Boston Red Sox defeat the Kansas City Royals (7-0)IP: 9.0H: 0BB: 2K: 9Eventually traded for Yoenis Cespedes when the Red Sox were AGAINST signing aging pitchers in their 30's. pic.twitter.com/kbd6rHtwWn

Jon Lester’s no-hitter was just as much about his comeback as it was the game itself. Less than two years after his diagnosis of lymphoma, Lester took the mound and struck out nine Kansas City Royals on his way to the history books. It took him 130 pitches to accomplish the feat, in a monstrous effort.

This is still the most recent no-hitter in Red Sox history.

3. Mel Parnell, 1956 vs. Chicago White Sox

After sitting around during game one of a doubleheader, Mel Parnell took the ball for the nightcap and mowed through the Chicago White Sox. It was the first no-hitter by a Red Sox pitcher in 33 years, the longest the organization had ever gone without one.

On that night, the White Sox had three Hall of Famers in the starting lineup in Luis Aparicio, Larry Doby, and Nellie Fox. The three greats went a combined 0-8 with a walk (Doby) and a strikeout (Aparicio). No other Red Sox hitter has had more than one future Hall of Famer in the opposing team’s starting nine. 

2. Cy Young, 1904 vs. Philadelphia Athletics

The first no-hitter in franchise history was also the first perfect game in baseball’s modern era. The leadup to this game is what is really fantastic. Young and the Athletics’ Rube Waddell had met two weeks prior, with Waddell throwing the better game and picking up the win. The next week, Waddell faced the Red Sox (then the Amercians) again, throwing a one-hitter against Boston’s Jesse Tannehill.

After the game, Waddell taunted Young through the media, daring him to take the mound the next time the two were scheduled to face. Young responded with a no-hitter in which he retired Waddell for the final out, then yelled “How do you like that, you hayseed?"

Who says baseball can’t be fun?

Red Sox legend Cy Young threw one of 18 no-hitters in franchise history. (Ezra O. Shaw/Allsport)
Red Sox legend Cy Young threw one of 18 no-hitters in franchise history. (Ezra O. Shaw/Allsport)

1. Babe Ruth/Ernie Shore, 1918 vs. Washington Senators

This game has to be in the conversation for the most impressive no-hitters in baseball history, let alone Red Sox history. Babe Ruth walked the leadoff hitter Ray Morgan, and got himself ejected arguing the ball four call. (He may or may not have punched the umpire.) 

Ernie Shore then came in and was given very little time to warm up. Luckily, he got a quick out as Morgan was caught stealing. Shore then retired the next 26 hitters in order, in a way throwing a de facto perfect game.

The game is officially listed in the record books as a ‘combined no-hitter’ since Ruth faced one batter. But all things accounted for, Shore’s performance is one of the more unique and spectacular in baseball history. 

Alex Barth is a writer and digital producer for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Thoughts? Comments? Questions? Looking for a podcast guest? Let him know on Twitter @RealAlexBarth or via email at [email protected].