It may be hard to believe today, but there was a time when the New York Yankees were one of the worst teams in baseball. A decade of bad trades and free agent acquisitions throughout the 1980s finally caught up with the Yankees in 1990. The forgettable season for fans was capped by a last place finish in the American League East.
Amid all of the turmoil of the 1990 season was a bizarre game on July 1 at Chicago’s Comiskey Park that was hard to explain.
The 1990 season was known as The Year of the No-Hitter.
On June 29, Oakland’s Dave Stewart and the Dodgers' Fernando Valenzuela pitched no-hitters on the same night. Two days later, Yankees pitcher Andy Hawkins added his name to the no-hitter list but not in the manner he expected.
With the game still scoreless and Chicago seeking their first hit, the bottom of the eighth inning turned out to be a half inning to forget for Hawkins and the Yankees. After retiring the first two batters, Sammy Sosa reached on an error by third baseman Mike Blowers. Hawkins then walked Ozzie Guillen and Lance Johnson to bring Robin Ventura to the plate with the bases loaded.
Ventura hit a fly ball to left field that appeared to be the third out. Yankees rookie Jim Leyritz attempted to make the catch while battling a bright sun and a gusty breeze. However, the ball bounced off Leyritz’s glove, allowing all three runs to score. Ivan Calderon followed by hitting a fly ball to right field that Jesse Barfield also lost in the sun and dropped for the third error of the inning. Ventura scored to increase the White Sox's lead to 4-0. Two walks and three errors resulted in four White Sox runs without the benefit of a hit.
When New York failed to score in the top of the ninth, Hawkins joined a dubious list as the 13th pitcher in major league history to lose a game while allowing no hits.
No only did Hawkins suffer the indignity of losing a no-hitter, he was not even allowed to keep his pitching gem. In September 1991, Commissioner Fay Vincent ruled that a pitcher must throw at least nine innings to earn a no-hitter. Since the game only lasted eight-and-a-half innings, and Hawkins could not pitch the bottom of the ninth, his no-hitter was erased from the record books.
Coincidentally, later in the 1990 season, the White Sox’s Melido Perez pitched a six-inning, rain-shortened no-hitter against New York at Yankee Stadium that was also ruled ineligible. Who was the starting pitcher for the Yankees that evening? Andy Hawkins.
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