Don Wilson---1971
On This Date in Baseball
History…. September 4, 197
4

On this date in 1974, Houston right-
hander Don Wilson came ohhh so
close to firing his third career no-
hitter.

Having already logged no-hitters
against the Reds on May 1, 1969
and the Braves on June 18, 1967;
Wilson tossed eight no-hit innings at
the Cincinnati Reds before being
lifted for a pinch-hitter by manager
Preston Gomez.

The Astros trailed Cincinnati, 2-1,
courtesy of two unearned runs by the
Reds in the fifth inning (two walks,
sacrifice bunt and an error).
Scheduled to lead off the bottom of
the 8th inning, Wilson stepped aside
as Gomez sent Tommy Helms to the
plate.

Complain, nope… instead Wilson
supported the controversial move as
he was quoted by the press:

"I respect Preston Gomez as a
manager," said Wilson after the
game. "I respect him more than ever
tonight. When people start putting
personal goals ahead of the team,
you'll never have a winner."

Pretty good stuff, considering that if
Wilson had continued with another
inning of no-hit ball he would have
found himself in elite company.

Here is the list of pitchers with three
or more no-hitters:

Nolan Ryan (7)
Sandy Koufax (4)
Larry Corcoran (3)
Bob Feller (3)
Cy Young (3)

Following the ’74 campaign, in which
he went 11-13, 3.08; and just weeks
away from reporting to Spring
Training, Wilson died tragically of
carbon monoxide poisoning on
January 5, 1975.

To us, this card is eerie... as Wilson
has a sad look of acknowledgement
that he is in the midst a career of that
falls short of expectations.

Wilson finished his nine-year career
with a 104-92 record and a splendid
3.15 ERA. He logged no-hit, no-run
ball over two innings for the NL in the
1971 All-Star Game. His big fastball
helped him fan 235 batters in 1969.
Wilson's 18 strikeouts against the
Reds (July 14, 1968) still stands as
the Astros single game record. Once
on his jersey Number 40 will never be
worn again by an Astros player.

But on this day, we are reminded of a
talented young man who put his team
first.

(8/4/08)