Perry never tires of reliving no-hitter

A day after Giants pitcher's unique feat, Cards opponent tosses no-no

Perry never tires of reliving no-hitter

GREELEY, Colo. -- As a Hall of Fame pitcher, Gaylord Perry does numerous personal appearances. The Giants -- the team whose logo is inscribed on the cap on his plaque -- has him speak to players during camp, and includes him and other San Francisco Hall of Famers in special ceremonies, such as issuing the World Series rings the team has won in recent years.

It means plenty of chances to relive the experience that never leaves him: His no-hitter against the Cardinals on Sept. 17, 1968, in which he struck out nine. And the final inning gave him a lifetime of stories to tell.

The Groundhog Day feeling never gets old for Perry.

"After seven innings, I was walking back to the dugout, and here comes the umpire," Perry said Saturday during the Friends of Baseball Breakfast fundraiser, which assists youth baseball efforts in Weld County, Colo.

"I was sure he was going to ask me something about a pitch I was throwing, but he said, 'You don't have to get it so close.' I didn't think much about it. After the eighth inning, he was a little more angry and he said, 'You don't have to get it so close.'"

Perry quickly figured out what was happening.

"It hit me what he was thinking: He had never called a no-hitter and he wanted to call one," Perry said to a laughing audience.

It was not going to be easy. In the ninth inning the Cards sent up left-handed-hitting Bobby Tolan and Lou Brock, followed by right-hander Curt Flood. Tolan was a standout on successful teams, Brock a future Hall of Famer and Flood a three-time All-Star.

"That ninth inning, I got Bobby Tolan on a ground ball to second base," Perry said. "Lou Brock hit the ball up the middle and the shortstop just got it.

"Now I looked in and got the sign and the umpire said, 'Waaaay outside.' So my catcher moved way outside. Strike one. Then strike two. Then he moves further outside. Strike three.

"I got the no-hitter. Curt Flood would never forgive me about this."

But immediately after the game, the experience became notable for a couple of not-so-celebratory coincidences.

"My family had just gone back to North Carolina. I had a kid going to school and he had to be there for opening day. So I was there by myself when I pitched my no-hitter. It didn't last very long.

"That was a night game I pitched, and the next game was a day game, and Ray Washburn [of the Cards] pitched a no-hitter against us," Perry said. "So I didn't have much time to celebrate.

But it is fresh in his mind. And with the opportunities he has based on his status as one of baseball's greats, the story will last forever.

Thomas Harding is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.