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This Day in Yankees History: Vic Raschi's Near No-No- July 13, 1952

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61 years and a day ago, "Superchief" Allie Reynolds threw the first of his two no-hitters in 1951, and almost exactly a year to the day, one of Reynolds's contemporaries tried to match him. Vic Raschi was a four-time All-Star with the Yankees from 1946-53, and his time on the team resulted in six World Series rings. He was one of Stengel's most reliable starters, and he had three consecutive 20-win seasons in the years leading up to '52. Raschi was on his way to another stellar year in '52, and not long after he was the AL's All-Star Game starter by virtue of an 8-2 record and a 2.68 ERA, he took the mound in Yankee Stadium against the Detroit Tigers.

The matchup was one of extremes--the Yankees were in first place, en route to another AL pennant, and the Tigers were already 24 games behind, in last place. These pre-Kaline Tigers were on their way to a then-franchise-worst 105-loss season and had fired their manager, former Yankee third baseman Red Rolfe, during the All-Star Break and replaced him with pitcher Fred Hutchison. Hutchison was near the end of a fairly good 10-year career and would later manage against the Yankees in the '61 World Series with the Reds. Of their starting lineup that day against Raschi, only right fielder Vic Wertz, first baseman Walt Dropo, and third baseman Bud Souchock ended the season with a wRC+ over 100. This lineup was relatively easy prey, and Raschi seized the opportunity for something special.

The game itself was over pretty quickly, as the Yankees pounded Tigers starter Art Houtteman for seven runs and ten hits in only three full innings of work. Joe Collins and Yogi Berra hit two-run homers against Houtteman in a five-run third, and Mickey Mantle later added a three-run homer against reliever Marlin Stuart to make the score 10-0 in the sixth. All these runs seemed unnecessary though given how well Raschi was pitching. Raschi had led the league in strikeouts in '51 with 164, and he showed why by striking out the side in the first inning, working around a two-out walk to Don Lenhardt. After the walk, Raschi retired 14 Tigers in a row, allowing his defense to much of the work thanks to some groundouts, pop-ups, and line drives. His defense betrayed him a little bit in the sixth, as second baseman Billy Martin fumbled a slow groundball hit to him by the pitcher Stuart, but Raschi was able to escape the inning after Don Kolloway lined into a double play.

Raschi headed to the seventh looking to go deeper in his attempt to throw the sixth no-hitter in Yankees history. He retired the Tigers in order and ended the inning by striking out Lenhardt and inducing a pop-up from Wertz, the Tigers' best hitter. Manager Casey Stengel had planned on removing Raschi from the game after seven innings since he wanted Raschi to conserve his energy for an upcoming start against the second-place Indians, but he later he explained he could not bring himself to remove Raschi because "you just can't do that to a man who has a chance for a no-hitter." Raschi proceeded to validate Stengel's though by striking out Dropo and Souchock. Raschi was now four outs away from a no-hitter, and all he had to do was get four outs from the bottom of the Detroit order and the leadoff man. Raschi's catcher, Berra, later said that he had rarely seen Raschi look better. "His control was fine and he fooled the Tigers with curves, fastballs, sliders, and let-ups. He was just as strong at the finish as he was at the start."

Raschi knew exactly what was going on as he faced Tigers catcher Joe Ginsberg, a weak hitter only batting .185 at the time. He later admitted to really trying for the no-hitter, as he bore down for every pitch (and also said he would not want to go through the strain again). He got two quick strikes on Ginsberg, and then Raschi shook off Berra's suggestion of a waste pitch. Though Ginsberg might have swung at it, Raschi threw a hard fastball, but Ginsberg got around on it and sent it 325 feet into the right-field seats for a solo homer. The no-hitter was gone, but Raschi was able to finish up his one-hitter shortly after that. It was one of the best games of Raschi's career, and it occurred 60 years ago today.

Box score.

Game recap source: Effrat, Louis. "Raschi Pitches One-Hitter as Yankees Crush Tigers in Two Games." New York Times, July 14, 1952.