This is a special quarantine series where I watch old games and write a running commentary about it. Due to some adult language at times, reader discretion is advised.
Doc RaysFan, my esteemed colleague, suggested watching Tom Seaver’s no hitter, which occurred before I was born (sorry, Rays). Seaver is an all-time historical favorite of mine but I’ve never watched an entire Tom Terrific game. I think it’s time to change this. I’ll be going into this with no expectations and completely fresh – you will be getting my genuine reactions through the post. I’m excited to give it a whirl. Let’s go!
WHEW these graphics! It’s Cincinnati versus St. Louis. Oh, you already know who I want to win.
The grounds at Riverfront Stadium are terrible. Look at this turf, it’s horrible.
Our first batter is the Redbirds’ Lou Brock, and a swift out.
Garry Templeton is next. The Reds’ broadcaster (can’t tell if it’s Joe Nuxhall or Marty Brennaman at this point) has noted that Seaver has had three complete games already this season. Templeton gets a touch but it goes to foul territory, and then another one goes straight to Dave Concepción, so you know it’s an automatic out.
Much like Avery’s game that I recapped, Seaver is shaking off the rust a little bit right now in this first inning. If you didn’t know any better, you wouldn’t be thinking about a potentially historic performance from Tom.
I hate the blue Cardinal uniforms.
This pitcher for St. Louis is named John Denny. I do not know anything about him. Here he’s up against the first Reds batter, Pete Rose. Nice to know his haircut has literally never changed. Next up it’s Ken Griffey. At this point he was the cream of the crop in National League batting, so it will be exciting to see what his day is like. An easy out.
Joe Morgan is at bat now. I think of him only as an executive, not as a player. I also think of “Fire Joe Morgan” which was a fine baseball website. Morgan draws the walk, and now it’s a guy named George Foster.
Out out out, and we’re headed to the second inning. First up it’s freshly minted hall of famer Ted Simmons, retired by a ground out. Next, it’s Keith Hernandez. On a personal note, I am not a fan of these shaggy manes and facial hair. The 70s were an ugly time, friends. Hernandez gets the walk, and now we are seeing a guy named Jerry Morales.
Friends, I am serious, it looks like St. Louis is wearing pajamas. This is an ugly, ugly period in history.
Oh shit, Joe Morgan missed a bounce and the Reds get an error. Hernandez is on third now thanks to a stolen base. But Morales can’t even bring any heat, becoming Tom’s first strikeout victim.
This guy at bat SUCKS. I have to pause this to look him up on B-Ref, please hold on. OK, this gentleman is named Ken Reitz. This was his age 27 season and it was a doozy. Markedly worse stats than the years before – his batting average had dropped quite a bit from what I’m seeing here, and the way he was flailing against Seaver’s stuff being tossed, it shows. Seaver isn’t out here with punch outs right now, but you wouldn’t know it by looking at this Reitz guy.
OK, back to the game.
Walked Reitz. Oh, for goodness sake, why? That guy was swinging at gnats. Two guys on base but there’s still no hits – but that’s the fun of baseball. Fellow named Phillips hits a ball directly at Joe Morgan who tosses an easy out at first and ends the inning. No harm, no foul, and Seaver gets out of this jam.
Something I think is interesting is that there are absolutely no graphics. Not even a name when a guy comes up to bat. This makes things interesting when I’m trying to figure out who some of these guys are. I have to rely a little more on Marty and Joe than I would want.
Our first real excitement for the Reds! Denny, the StL pitcher, gets a throwing error trying to tag out a Red named Geronimo, which leads to some movement and now we have RISP. Denny is throwing some junk right now; a high curve that was closer to the Reds’ catcher’s head than the strike zone. Another soft curve and then just as soft of an out. Wasted runner, and we’re still tied up at zero.
Pitcher on pitcher violence. My favorite. Seaver is starting to get hot now, although it was just Denny that he strikes out. Up comes Lou Brock, who according to Nuxhall has been in a slump. He’s not connecting very hard when with these few outs he’s generated. Easy outs all around.
Showing a full pan of the stadium. This is such an ugly field. I don’t know if I’m just spoiled by growing up watching WGN and seeing Wrigley as a kid but this is such an uninspired ballpark. And the grass is so ugly. Is this actually grass? It looks like poorly laid Astroturf.
Seaver is at bat now, more pitcher on pitcher violence – Denny gets his first strikeout of the game. Pete Rose at the plate, but nothing doing. Griffey up next with two outs.
We’re at the top of the fourth now, nil each. Denny and Seaver are somehow keeping things locked up. Denny is facing Joe Morgan, and gets walked again. George Foster up now, looking for break the game open with a good, solid hit. Whew, Joe Morgan goes to steal second and it was only a heads up play by Garry Templeton that kept Morgan from being able to steal third, too. Now we have a Red in scoring position and Foster still up to bat, at 2-0.
Foster gets a walk, and now Dan Driessen, the first baseman. Much like that guy from the Cardinals I didn’t know anything about, I’m going to pause this game and look him up on BRef.
In 1978 Mr. Driessen was also having a bit of a lull in his career from what I’m seeing, but he was much more even than Reitz, career-wise. His numbers are pretty even across the board. During this period of his career it looks like he was good at drawing a walk. Batting average of only .250, though, but that doesn’t mean anything if you’re able to get a well-timed knock, although the 70 RBI total doesn’t inspire me. Oh well. Let’s unpause this game and see if my suspicions are justified.
Immediately windmills against Denny, and now a double play that takes Driessen out but moves Joe Morgan to third, and now Concepción. Ooof. This is rough. A pop to Denny and then straight to Hernandez for the out. This is a sloppy game in some ways.
Pete Rose’s heads up play to Driessen, who had to hop to get the ball, but the Cardinals batter is out. The Reds get their first base hit off Denny, it’s outfielder Geronimo who gets the single. So, the double no hitter has been broken up.
Another! Another base hit, two men on, with Tom Seaver coming up to bat. Time to bunt, suckers.
No dice. It’s time for Pete Rose to come up to the plate, but what’s this? Odd turn of events as Denny comes up to speak to an umpire and then runs into the dugout! What is this nonsense? He just literally peaced out of his own ballgame and headed into the locker room! This is weird as heck; I did not see anything that looked out of the ordinary as to why he would have left the game.
Brennaman has informed us that Denny asked for time out to fix a uniform malfunction. What would it possibly be? He wasn’t out there Janet Jacksoning. Nuxhall is saying that it may have been something a little more delicate. I see. Denny is back onto the mound now, still facing Rose. Rose hits a line drive to center and we have a two-run double! The ball is bobbled and Rose makes it to third! An error is charged against Simmons! Griffey is up to bat now and we still have a man in play. Griffey hits a foul; we proceed at 2-1.
Called strike three, but that seems questionable. Up saunters Joe Morgan, who has been walked twice already this game. Let’s see what happens.
A glitch in the video and I miss the hit, but I see the aftermath! Joe Morgan smokes one down the first base line and Rose crosses home! A Morgan double makes it 3-0 Reds!
Seaver is still doing work. Nothing outpowering but it doesn’t need to be. It’s all effective pitches and that’s all you need, especially for a guy in his age 33 season. Quick outs for Tom. Smart, efficient baseball. Kinda reminds me of someone I know and love.
Don Driessen is up at bat bottom of the sixth. Denny is getting sloppy as hell. Count is 3-1 and the fastballs are hideous. And now we have ourselves a home run! A solid, solid hit against another lousy fastball and the Reds are up 4 zilch.
Another 3-1 count, this one against Concepción. He gets a knock but is easily taken out. Geronimo back up to the dish. He is the one who started this rally for Cincinnati not that long ago. Ugh, a high inside fastball from Denny, it’s all so ugly. The Cardinals have to pull him soon if he keeps pitching this way. Another one, this time against Don Werner. We’re done here, and now Seaver is back on the bump.
OK, this is definitely turf. There is no way that this is grass. I’m sorry if I keep harping about the conditions of the playing field but this is about as ugly as the last few innings from Denny.
Whew!!! We just had a close call here in the seventh! Keith Hernandez hits a bloopy one headed towards Seaver, but Tom gets snagged up. Ball heads to Dave Concepción, who threw him out easily. Thank goodness.
Denny is still in the game. Why? I know things were done differently in the 70s when it comes to relief pitching but they do have a guy warming up in the bullpen. Take this guy out of here, he just walked Tom Seaver for god’s sake.
Pete Rose in the box now, a base hit against Denny and moves Tom over to second base.
Yep, we have our first substitution of the game. Denny is heading out and Buddy Schultz, a lefty, is coming on. Yikes, he looks like the love child of the Unibomber and David Koresh! I hate the 70s! Everyone is so awful looking! How is there anyone my age if this is the kind of man roaming around the country?
Another disgustingly bad high, inside pitch. This one almost took Griffey out; he had to stop, drop, and roll. Now a double play to get Griffey out, but Seaver moves to third. Next up, Joe Morgan, who is promptly out.
Top of the eighth. Seaver has not had any lows or highs. He’s been efficient and steady. A substitution in the Reds offense as Ray Knight takes over for Pete Rose.
TAGGED YOU OUT! Ray Knight literally just saved this no-hit bid for Tom against Gerry Templeton.
Now bottom of the eighth, with Buddy Schultz still on the mound. At this point, we all know what’s going on. Brennaman, without giving us the jinx, has finally acknowledged that something special is happening in Riverfront Stadium this evening. Doesn’t even mention Seaver’s name. What a pro.
Buddy Schultz is sweating like a sinner in church. His glasses are foggy and he has been grabbing the rosin bag like crazy. The inning is over and we head to the ninth inning, where the Reds faithful are on their feet and cheering the man of the hour.
Finally, Brennaman has said what we’re all thinking and breaks it down for us. Before this game, Seaver has had four no-hit bids that had been broken up in the ninth.
There’s no pressure on Seaver to win the game. He only has to hold the line. A Cardinal draws the walk, and now Tom faces Lou Brock. Two balls and a strike. Brock makes contact but it goes into foul territory, two balls, two strikes.
Fly ball caught by Foster and we have our first out!
Garry Templeton is up next, and a force out for our second out!
One out away from history! The crowd is deafening at this point. We are ONE STRIKE AWAY.
DRIESSEN HAS THE OUT, AND GAME OVER!
TOM SEAVER HAS THROWN A NO HITTER!