The Greatest Game in MLB History?

In June of 1971, at Riverfront Stadium, Rick Wise played perhaps the greatest game any MLB pitcher has ever played. He not only no-hit the Cincinnati Reds, he hit two home runs in the same game. He is the only pitcher to ever hit two homers while throwing a no-no. In August of 1971, he hit two dingers again, this time against the Giants. He finished the season hitting .237 with 6 homers and 15 RBIs. He talked about that game and that season with Bruce Markesun of the Hardball Times a few weeks ago.

Markusen: Let’s talk more about that game against the Reds. What did you have going for you in terms of pure stuff on the mound? What do you remember in terms of the pitching part that day?

Wise: Well, I felt warming up that I better locate my pitches because I was coming off the effects of the flu. I felt very weak that day. But it was my turn to start nevertheless. So warming up, it seemed like the ball was stopping halfway down to the catcher. So I said to myself that I better locate my pitches well.

I sweated out the remnants of the flu through the first inning; it was very hot on the carpet at Riverfront (Stadium). But I had a good rhythm. They were putting the ball in play early; it was 94 pitches in an hour and 53 minutes, and the game was over, so it went right along.

Of course, I added the two home runs. One in the fifth off Ross Grimsley, and then one off a reliever there, in the eighth inning. It was Clay Carroll, a very fine reliever at that time.

Markusen: From a hitting standpoint, Rick, the two home runs in one day. That had to be a bit of a surprise.

Wise: Well, not really. I had six home runs that year. I hit two home runs in a game twice that year. I tied a National League record. And one of those home runs was a grand slam, as a matter of fact. But I worked at hitting. I was always a good hitter, growing up in Little League, Babe Ruth, American Legion ball, high school ball, I was always hitting third or fourth. I had 15 home runs my first nine years in the National League, and then I went to the American League and never hit another one.

And Wise was no slouch on the hill that year either. He went 17-14 with an impressive 2.88 ERA. After the 1971 season, he was traded to the Cardinals for a player who would hit 10 career homers and knock in 112 RBIs over the course of his Phillies career. His name was Steve Carlton.

3 Comments on “The Greatest Game in MLB History?”

  1. Dan Koch says:

    I’ve always loved this nugget of trivia, and I feel confident in calling this the greatest day any major leaguer has ever had. That includes all of the four homer and perfect games ever pitched — save for maybe, *maybe* Don Larsen.

  2. Dave says:

    I still remember being not at all pleased when we traded Wise at the end of that season for somebody named Steve Carlton.

  3. Fireblossom says:

    I was there that night!

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