Glavine’s one-hitter was nearly perfect

Written by: Craig Muder

Kit Pellow of the Colorado Rockies stepped to the plate with two outs in the eighth inning on May 23, 2004 – less than three months before he would play the final game of his big league career.

On the mound was 38-year-old Tom Glavine, just four outs away from history. Two pitches later, Pellow doubled off the right field wall at Shea Stadium.

It would be the closest Glavine would come to a no-hitter in his stellar MLB career.

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Glavine’s last no-hitter? That came in American Legion baseball play when he was 17 years old.

“It was a perfect game,” Glavine’s father, Fred, told the Journal News of White Plains, N.Y., of his son’s gem in Legion ball. “You know, I thought he was going to do it again.”

Glavine came tantalizingly close to perfection – and to what would have been the first no-hitter in Mets history. He retired the Rockies in order through six innings on just 62 pitches before Denny Hocking began the seventh with a full-count walk. By then, the Mets had a 4-0 lead – thanks in part to first inning home runs by Kazuo Matsui and Cliff Floyd and later an RBI single by Glavine himself that gave New York a four-run cushion – and the outcome was largely decided.

Glavine regrouped to retire the next three batters he faced in the seventh, then got Jeromy Burnitz on a fly ball leading off the eighth before striking out Matt Holliday.

Up stepped Pellow, who debuted with the Royals in 2002 and played a little more in 2003 but still retained his rookie status in 2004.

He would total 52 hits in his big league career. None meant more than this one.

“The pitch was in a pretty good spot,” Pellow told the Journal News, “and I hit it pretty well.”

So well, in fact, that Mets right fielder Shane Spencer had no chance at a play.

“That ball was going over my head, and I was wishing and wishing, but there was no way,” Spencer said. “It’s a shame. I think we were all hoping to be part of something special.”

For Glavine, it marked the only one-hit, nine-inning game of his career – though he would later be credited with a one-hitter during a six-inning contest against the Cardinals in 2007 that was called due to rain. The only hit Glavine allowed in that game was an infield single to future Hall of Fame teammate Scott Rolen.

On June 1, 2012, the Mets finally got their no-hitter when Johan Santana blanked the Cardinals.

“I thought: ‘Well, I never expected to throw a no-hitter, but nobody’s ever done it here. Why not me?’” Glavine said after his one-hitter. “I thought everything was going to line up for one day.”

Glavine received a standing ovation from the fans and from his fellow pitchers after the game.

“That’s what you come to New York to play for,” said Glavine, who spent his first 16 years in the big leagues with the Braves before joining the Mets via free agency following the 2002 season. “It doesn’t get better than that.”

Glavine was elected to the Hall of Fame in 2014.

Craig Muder is the director of communications for the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum

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