Jim Palmer no-hits Oakland in an 8-0 Baltimore victory
Some Major League pitchers struggle when coming off of the disabled list.
Others throw no-hitters.
In just his second start after returning to the Baltimore rotation after missing six weeks with a torn lower back muscle, Jim Palmer no-hit Oakland and coasted to a 8-0 win over the Athletics on Aug. 13, 1969.
It was the first and only no-hitter of the future Hall of Famer’s career, and it came just four days after he was activated from the Orioles’ disabled list. Palmer would end the 1969 season with a 16-4 overall record, and his .800 winning percentage was the highest in the American League.
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The 1969 season was the beginning of the second act of Palmer’s career, and it would springboard him into the Hall of Fame. The then-23-year-old had missed most of 1967 and all of 1968 with an arm injury – following a 15-10 record for the World Champion Orioles in 1966 – before returning to the majors to pitch in 1969. He would later become the winningest pitcher of the 1970s.
“When they needed a big game out of someone, he was the guy to go out for nine and win,” said Baltimore Sun writer Ken Nigro.
Palmer’s no-hitter was his eighth win in a row at the time. He walked six batters, but struck out eight while also helping his own cause: Recording a single, a double and a walk at the plate.
Three of Palmer’s six walks came in the top of the ninth, the only time the Athletics threatened to score a run. After walking Reggie Jackson on four pitches to lead off the inning, Palmer got Sal Bando to line out to Paul Blair in center field for the first out of the inning.
A Danny Cater ground ball forced Jackson at second, but Dick Green and Tom Reynolds walked to load the bases with two away. Palmer escaped the jam by inducing a fielder’s choice out on a grounder hit by Larry Haney.
After the no-hitter, Palmer continued his streak, winning his ninth game in a row on Aug. 18 in a complete game against the Seattle Pilots. He then earned his 10th in a row four days later by pitching nine innings of three-run baseball against Oakland in an extra-inning victory.
Palmer pitched nine innings again on Aug. 28, but recorded a no-decision in another extra-inning win over the Pilots.
His streak finally ended on Sept.15 following his 11th straight win on Sept. 1 and two more no-decisions. Palmer pitched 15 more years for the Orioles before retiring in 1984. The three-time Cy Young Award winner won 268 games in his 19-year career and recorded 211 complete games. “Jimmy was a tremendous competitor,” former teammate Elrod Hendricks said. “If he got to the sixth or seventh, you could mail the game in. He was probably the best I ever saw.”
Kristen Gowdy was a public relations intern in the Frank and Peggy Steele Internship Program at the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum