I was 12 years old when I first learned of the no-hitter “jinx.” The New York Mets were hosting the Boston Red Sox in one of the first ever interleague games.
After nursing a 1-0 lead for much of the afternoon, the Mets created some breathing room with a three-run fifth, highlighted by a home run from their starting pitcher, Mark Clark. A pitcher going deep is certainly a noteworthy event, but Clark’s homer was actually overshadowed by the fact that he was throwing a no-hitter.
I was right around the age where I understood the rarity of an achievement such as a cycle or no-hitter, but not yet experienced enough to know when such an event was unfolding just by watching the game. Somewhere around the sixth inning, I looked up at Shea Stadium’s gigantic right field scoreboard and noticed a “0” in the Red Sox’ hit column. Less than a year earlier, former Mets’ great Dwight Gooden had thrown a no-hitter for the crosstown rival New York Yankees. I remember the imagery of Gooden being carried off the mound by his teammates and the excitement the moment created for the city. The goose egg on the scoreboard caused me to think a similar moment might take place in this very game I was attending, and I excitedly blurted out, “Wow, Clark’s got a no-hitter!”
There was a nice crowd on hand that day, and our section in Shea’s Mezzanine level was especially packed. If you’re one of the many Baseball God-fearing mortals like I am, then you know exactly what happened next.
The words “no” and “hitter” had barely rolled off my tongue when about a dozen die-hard Mets fans wheeled their heads and started glaring at me from every direction. Their facial expressions fell into one of two categories: utter contempt or sheer disbelief. The stares probably lasted for less than two seconds, but it felt like they had lasted for several minutes.
There is no greater challenge for a baseball announcer than a no-hitter or perfect game.
If a team is one win away from a championship, or an individual player is on the verge of breaking a long-standing record, you can mentally prepare in advance to ensure you properly capture the moment when it finally happens.
Advance preparation for a no-hitter or perfect game, however, is extremely difficult. A no-hitter can unfold in any game at any time, and puts every tool that contributes to a quality broadcast to the test.
A future post will fully explain the proper mindset and approach when broadcasting a no-hitter, but the main idea is having the ability to “seize the moment” by recognizing the appropriate time to shift the majority of the broadcast’s focus towards the potential feat. While the timing of the shift varies for each no-hit situation, once the shift has taken place, it’s imperative for the broadcaster to remain in the moment up until the no-hitter is either completed or broken up. Continue reading