As a rookie in 1964, right-hander Rick Wise made his first Major League start in the second game of a doubleheader at Shea Stadium on Sunday, June 21. All he was doing was following Jim Bunning's perfect game.
Seven years later, Wise threw a historic no-hitter against the Reds in Cincinnati. He recounts both games:
"I was definitely excited upon learning I would get a spot start, Game 2 at Shea Stadium. Only 18 years old at the time, I kind of knew the Phillies would pick and choose my appearances that year. I really wanted to perform well. As the first game evolved through the sixth, seventh and eighth innings without a baserunner I was not even thinking about my game but was transfixed by Jim's bid for immortality.
"With the final three outs -- 27 up and 27 down -- my teammates and the press poured into the clubhouse to celebrate Jim's perfect game. Only then did I realize I didn't have a baseball to warm up with. Finally, I got one. I can't recall who handed me one.
"In the third or fourth inning I walked a batter and the huge crowd of over 32,000 erupted. At first, I didn't understand the significance. It was the first baserunner all day for the Mets.
"John Klippstein and I combined on a three-hitter which led to a National League record [which still stands] of fewest hits allowed in a double header. What a day! What a memory!
"Almost seven years to the day -- June 23, 1971 -- I would pitch a no-hitter, a day that I will never forget.
"June 23, 1971, was going to be a scorcher in Cincinnati. By late morning it was already in the 80's. On top of that, I was not feeling well at all. I was fighting the effects of the flu which I'd had for five or six days. But, it was my day to pitch and my teammates were counting on me. The thought of skipping my start never crossed my mind.
"I came up the stairs from the coolness of the clubhouse, to field level and the heat of the field sucked the breath out of me. These were the days of cookie-cutter stadiums with Astroturf. It was probably 120 degrees on the field at 6:30 p.m.
"My warm-up pitches seemed to stop half way to home plate. I felt very weak and thought to myself, 'You'd better locate your pitches very well or you won't be around long.'
"The first nine batters went down in order and I felt myself getting stronger, possibly because I had sweated out the remnants of the flu. While batting in the fifth inning, [Reds pitcher] Ross Grimsley left a slider up in the zone and I hit it for a home run to left field.
"Meanwhile, the Reds were offering at my pitches early in the count and it made for quick innings. My tempo increased, my focus increased and my command and location were excellent. A sixth-inning walk to Davey Conception [was] the exception.
"I led off the eighth inning against Clay Carroll, who fell behind in the count 2-0. I checked the third-base coach [George Myatt] for a sign and he just turned his back on me. In other words the green light was on --- swing at it! Clay threw the next pitch right down Broadway and I was ready. Home run No. 2 to left center.
"The Cincinnati fans rose to their feet as I started the ninth inning. That was special.
"I retired the first two batters and, low and behold, Pete Rose came to the plate and stood between me and a no-hitter. He was the last hitter you wanted to see with one out remaining in a no-no. The count went to 3-2 and I went with a fast ball, low and away -- a semi-line drive to John Vukovich and the game was complete. Ninety-four pitches in 1:53. I had gained a little piece of immortality almost seven years to the day of my first Major League win and Jim's perfecto. Adding two homers put me in exclusive territory as that had never been done. My greatest game ever!"
Meanwhile, back in Philadelphia, Rick's wife, Susan, remembers her evening of June 23, 1971.
"I was with a bunch of baseball wives at a baby shower in Cherry Hill, [Pa]. The game was on a TV in the bedroom. I went to watch Rick pitch his innings and then returned to the party.
"By the fifth, most of us were watching. By the seventh, all of us were crowded in the small room. After the exciting game, the girls all took me out for a celebratory drink at a nearby restaurant and announced to all the patrons that I was the wife of the winning pitcher.
"When I returned to our apartment on Henry Ave., there were mountains of flowers, notes, and bottles of champagne. The Phillies gave me a gold charm to commemorate the game. Like Rick, that night is something I will forever remember."
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.