A walk down no-hit lane: 1972
In 1972, the Cubs were never really in it. Chicago came close midway through June, closing within 2.0 games of the Pirates, but after that steadily fell out of contention to finish 11.0 games behind Pittsburgh by years end. However, the pennant race was not the exciting part of the ’72 season – it was the two no-hitters thrown by Cubs pitchers Burt Hooton and Milt Pappas.
The 22-year-old Hooton was the Cubs first-round draft pick the year before and actually pitched in three games, earning two wins the same year. The Cubs had high hopes for the rookie, naming him their No. 2 prior to the season.
Hooton’s no-hitter came on the second game of the season against the Phillies at Wrigley Field to a small crowd of 9,583. The Texas native was far from perfect that day, walking seven, including two in the top of the seventh. However, Hooton got through it by striking out Denny Doyle, one of seven on the day. The no-no was topped off in less dramatic form when Hooton got Willie Montanez to ground out to second, Deron Johnson to strikeout and got Greg Luzinski to followed suite, ending the game in a 4-0 win.
At the time, no-hitters had become somewhat of the norm for the Cubs as Ken Holtzman did it twice in the two years prior. After 1972, however, Chicago would have to wait until Sunday for Carlos Zambrano to accomplish the feat – 36 years and 12 days later.
The second no-hitter of 1972 came Sept. 2, in a near-perfect game thrown by Pappas. Cubs fans got to see another no-hitter at Wrigley, this time to a slightly better attendance of 11,144. Pappas was dominant all night, striking out six, while forcing 12 ground balls.
This game is one of the most disputed no-hitters of all time, not because of an error that could have gone either way, but because of home plate umpire Bruce Froemming’s ball call to walk San Diego’s Larry Stahl with two outs in the top of the ninth. Froemming later said that he did not realize it was a perfect game until after the call was made.
The 1972 season might not have been most memorable year in terms of the standings, but for two days at Wrigley Field, two Cubs pitchers, one toeing on the line of perfection, threw what only 10 other Cubs players have ever done-a no-hitter.