There was no foreshadowing that something extraordinary was going to happen at Veterans Stadium on the muggy, buggy night of Aug. 15, 1990. There was no hint that a dog days matchup between a Phillies team, which was on its way to a fourth straight losing season, and the visiting San Francisco Giants would become the framework for one of the most memorable nights in franchise history.
When Terry Mulholland threw his first pitch to Giants leadoff man Rick Parker, he was a 27-year-old lefty with a 6-6 record and a 4.34 ERA. Coming into the season, his career numbers were 7-15 and 4.67. Mulholland had been shuttled back and forth between the bullpen and the rotation all season.
Two hours and nine minutes later, he was the author of the first no-hitter pitched in Philadelphia that century.
"I still keep feeling like it was somebody else who did it," he would say later. "These things don't happen to Terry Mulholland. They happen to Nolan Ryan, Tom Seaver, guys like that. Not guys from Uniontown, Pa. ... I think in the back of my mind, it will always seem like a dream. Because that's what it is: A dream come true."
It was a game that was laced with coincidences, starting with the fact that Mulholland was pitching against the team that drafted him, signed him and then traded him to the Phillies just over a year earlier.
In that deal, the Phils also got left-hander Dennis Cook and third baseman Charlie Hayes. Hayes was charged with the throwing error in the seventh inning that cost Mulholland his perfect game, but redeemed himself by snagging pinch-hitter Gary Carter's line drive for the final out to preserve the no-hitter.
The batter who reached base on the error was Parker, who was drafted by the Phillies in 1985 and was the player to be named later who was sent to San Francisco, along with Steve Bedrosian, for Mulholland, Cook and Hayes.
By the time Carter came to the plate, all the normal baseball superstitions had been observed. Nobody talked to the pitcher between innings. Everybody sat in the same seat in the dugout. Catcher Darren Daulton, who normally used more than one glove during hot summer nights, stuck with the same sweat-soaked mitt.
Carter took the first pitch for a ball. The fans groaned.
Mulholland's second pitch was fouled straight back. A rhythmic clapping began.
Carter swung and missed. The count was 1-2 now and the crowd rose. Someone started a chant. "Ter-ry! Ter-ry!" Mulholland stepped off the mound.
"My right leg was beginning to feel kind of wobbly," he would say later. "I didn't feel 100 percent behind the next pitch, so I huddled with myself."
The next pitch was fouled in a soft arc into the seats down the left-field line. Home-plate umpire Eric Gregg asked for more baseballs. The chant became more urgent. "TER-RY! TER-RY!"
Then Carter smoked one, a tracer toward left that ran parallel to the foul line. Before the crowd even had a chance to gasp, Hayes took a quick step to his right, reached across his body and made the catch. Daulton rushed to the mound. Mulholland threw his glove in the air and embraced him as the rest of the team converged. The normally reserved pitcher waved to the wildly cheering crowds and even tossed his maroon hat into the seats.
Later, in the clubhouse, Mulholland would be doused with champagne. Giants manager Roger Craig sent over his lineup card as a souvenir. Club president Bill Giles gave both Mulholland and Daulton bonuses. The Hall of Fame came calling, asking for artifacts.
"That game certainly brought my name far above my career numbers," Mulholland would reflect. "If it helps get things moving for me, that's great."
And maybe it did. From that point to the end of the season, Mulholland's ERA was 1.99. For the next three seasons, he was the Phillies' Opening Day starter and totaled 41 wins. Mulholland led the league with 12 complete games in 1992 and played an integral role in helping the Phils make it to the World Series for the first time in a decade in '93.
After being traded to the Yankees in 1994, he bounced around the Majors, including a brief return to the Phillies. Mulholland ended up playing for 10 different teams in a 20-year career, before retiring in 2006.
Along the way, Mulholland had many memorable moments. He made the National League All-Star team in 1993 and he pitched in the playoffs in five different seasons for the Phillies, Braves and Twins. But he never did anything like what he did on Aug. 15, 1990, a game that started out just like any other and ended up being anything but.
Paul Hagen is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.