By Jim Dolan
Bay Ridge Eagle
With two outs in the ninth inning and a full count on Cardinals batter David Freese, the collective Mets world held its breath as LHP Johan Santana threw a sinking changeup for a swing and a miss to complete the first ever Mets’ no-hitter on June 1.
Fans everywhere rejoiced as history was made, and the historic accomplishment was even the talk of the town in Albany, where Mets fan state Sen. Marty Golden and his colleagues in the Senate approved a resolution, J. 5140, congratulating Santana upon the occasion of pitching the first no-hitter in team history, totaling 8,019 games.
“New York Mets history was made at Citi Field this week. Thousands of baseball fans cheered every pitch by Johan Santana as he pitched the first no-hitter in Mets history,” Golden said. “It was a great achievement for the ace pitcher, the Mets organization, and all fans, and this moment in baseball history is today recognized by the New York State legislature. As a New York Mets fan, I can surely say that the excitement of Santana’s pitching performance has invigorated the Mets’ fan base. Let’s go Mets!”
Recognition of history in the making started in the sixth inning of the Friday night game when Santana’s teammates began the time-honored baseball tradition of avoiding the pitcher in the dugout. The Mets would win by a final of 8-0.
“Amazing” was the first thing that Santana uttered as he was asked his reaction to pitching the franchise’s first no-hitter. But no less amazing was Santana’s road to this point, which started out on opening day of this season, when the two-time Cy Young Award winner returned to the mound after sitting out the 2011 season rehabbing from shoulder surgery. Pitching five scoreless innings for the Mets’ 1-0 win over the Atlanta Braves to begin the season, Santana worked his way up to making history one week ago with a strong outing against the Padres. Turning in a complete, nine-inning game in which he retired 16 straight San Diego batters, the Mets’ ace struck out seven and allowed four hits in that 9-0 win.
For 50 years, a no-hit game has eluded the Mets, going back as far as Tom Seaver’s first attempt, which was broken up by the Cubs’ Jimmy Qualls, who hit a ninth-inning single at Shea Stadium in July 1969. Since then, Seaver went on to pitch a no-hitter with the Reds, as did a number of other former Mets standouts who moved on to other teams, including Mike Scott (Astros), Dwight Gooden (Yankees), David Cone (Yankees), and Nolan Ryan (Angels, Astros and Rangers).
Oddly enough, even former New York Mets prospect Phillip Humber, now with the Chicago White Sox, one of the players for whom Santana was traded back in 2008, pitched a perfect game just this past April.
Knowing the franchise’s history of chasing this elusive goal, Manager Terry Collins allowed Santana to go way above his pitch count for a total of 134 pitches. In return, Santana gave the fans what they had so long awaited, telling them after the game, “It was all for you guys!”