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Who Was the First Pitcher to Throw a No-Hitter in Both Leagues?
Jim Bunning broke into the Detroit Tigers starting rotation in 1957, going 20-8 and tying for the American League lead in victories (with Chicago’s Billy Pierce) while leading the league in innings pitched with 267. His 2.69 ERA was third best in the league, and his 182 strikeouts were second by 2 to league-leader Early Wynn.
In 1958, his record slipped to 14-12. But the highlight of that season for Bunning came on July 20, when he no-hit the Boston Red Sox 3-0, fanning 12 Bosox batters that game.
From 1960 to 1963, Bunning was the Tigers’ premier starter, winning 59 games with a 3.36 ERA over that 4-year period. The Tigers’ workhorse averaged 256 innings and 192 strikeouts during those 4 years, but had winning records in only 2 of those seasons. In December 1963, the Tigers traded Bunning and catcher Gus Triandos to the Philadelphia Phillies for outfielder Don Demeter and pitcher Jack Hamilton. It was one of the best trades the Phillies ever made.
In 1964, Bunning rebounded with a 19-8 record and a 2.64 ERA. It would be the first of 3 consecutive 19-victory seasons Bunning would pitch for the Phillies. And on Father’s Day of 1964, Bunning did something no other major league hurler had ever done before: toss another no-hitter, now having one in each league. Bunning beat the New York Mets at Shea Stadium 6-0 in the first game of a doubleheader, pitching a perfect game as he struck out 10 Mets batters.
Bunning remained the only pitcher to throw a no-hitter in each league until 1991, when Nolan Ryan, pitching for the Houston Astros, no-hit the Los Angeles Dodgers 3-0 to go with the 4 no-hitters he had already pitched for the California Angels.