It is the greatest symbol of single-game dominance in organized sports. No other sport has an equivalent—a football team can’t hold an opponent to zero yards, and a basketball team can’t hold an opponent to zero field goals. Only in baseball can one athlete completely shut down the opposition.
The no-hitter is as memorable for its excellence as it is for its suddenness. It is the most unpredictable feat in baseball. Look no further than Bud Smith of the St. Louis Cardinals, who threw a no-hitter as a 22-year-old rookie in 2001. Smith floundered through the rest of the season and was traded the following year after a horrible start. From there, he was sent to the minor leagues and never surfaced again.
On the other hand, Greg Maddux—one of the greatest pitchers of all time—never threw a no-hitter.
Last year may have been the Year of the Pitcher, but it was not the year of the no-hitter. That would have been 1884, in which eight no-nos were thrown, or 1990-91, during which 14 no-hitters were thrown over two years.
Seven no-hitters were thrown last year, if you choose to count Armando Galarraga’s robbed perfect game (as Jim Joyce does).
Instead, last year’s no-hitters were among the most shocking moments of an amazing year—whether it was Galarraga’s masterpiece or Dallas Braden’s gem in Oakland or Roy Halladay’s postseason dominance. Chances are high that most baseball fans remember where they were when they heard about at least one of those three incredible feats.
To comprise the greatest no-no’s in each team’s history in order of greatest-ness, we employed a combination of criteria—dominance, the context of the game, the team against whom the gem was thrown and any unusual circumstances that could only happen in baseball.
Some no-hitters were steeped in an uncanny confluence of all four, and those singular moments top our list…