A no-hitter in baseball is a game in which a pitcher (or pitchers) allows no hits to the opposing team.
“No-hitter” generally refers to a full nine-inning game in which a single pitcher yields no hits, but there are other configurations which also constitute a no-hitter. Among those are:
- A game that lasts more than nine innings, provided the pitcher allows no hits in any inning.
- A game in which two or more pitchers combine to allow no hits in a nine-inning (or extra-inning) game.
There are also some tough-luck cases that do NOT constitute an official no-hitter. Among those are:
- An eight-inning outing when a road pitcher allows no hits, but when his team trails after their turn at-bat in the top of the ninth inning. In that case the home team does not come to bat (since they have already won the game), and the pitcher is not credited with a no-hitter.
- An extra-inning outing in which the pitcher allows no hits through nine innings but DOES allow a hit in the 10th or later. In that case, the pitcher is also not credited with a no-hitter.
As noted in the case of the eight-inning no-hitter (that doesn’t count as an official no-hitter), it is possible for a pitcher to allow no hits but still allow one or more runs. That’s because, aside from a hit, a runner can reach base via a walk, balk, hit batsman, or error.
Since none of those represent a hit, a pitcher may allow any number of baserunners via one of those methods and *still* pitch a no-hitter, provided he doesn’t allow any actual hits.
No-Hitter v. Perfect Game
A perfect game is a special class of no-hitter in which, not only does a pitcher not allow a hit, but he doesn’t allow even a single baserunner. That’s nine 123 innings in a row, if you’re keeping score at home!
So, for an outing to result in a perfect game, the opposing team cannot reach base by any of the methods discussed above: no hits, walks, balks, hit batters, or errors.
Because it so much tougher to pull off, a perfect game is a much more rare occurrence than a simple no-hitter.
No-Hitters in Major League Baseball
Though the incidence of no-hitters in general and combined no-hitters by teammates in particular has been on the rise in the 2020s, no-hitters remain special and unusual accomplishments in Major League Baseball.
Through midseason of 2022, there have been 317 official no-hitters tossed by MLB hurlers. Of those, just 23 have been perfect games.
Among some of the more amazing statistics and facts about no-hitters in the majors:
- Nolan Ryan pitched more no-hitters than any other hurler, collecting seven no-no’s over his career. Sandy Koufax stands second, with four no-hitters.
- Johnny Vander Meer pitched back-to-back no-hitters in 1938, the only man to accomplish that double-dip feat in MLB history.
- Harvey Haddix of the Pittsburgh Pirates pitched 12 perfect innings against the Milwaukee Braves on May 26, 1959. He lost the no-hitter, and the game, on a walk-off double by Joe Adcock in the 13th inning.
- There have been 13 combined no-hitters in the major leagues. The first one came in 1917, when Babe Ruth of the Boston Red Sox toed the rubber in the first inning. He walked the first batter, Eddie Foster, and was then ejected for arguing with the umpire. Ernie Shore came in to relieve Ruth and, after Foster was caught trying to steal, retired the next 26 batters to nail down the combo no-no.
- On October 8, 1956, Don Larsen threw the only no-hitter in World Series history. In 2010, Roy Halladay threw the second post-season no-hitter when he shut down the Cincinnati Reds in the NLDS on October 6.