The votes are in and “The King” is the king.
Tuesday was the 30th anniversary of the first no-hitter thrown in Seattle Mariners franchise history, when Randy Johnson blanked the Detroit Tigers 2-0 at the Kingdome. In total, there have now been six no-hitters thrown by Seattle pitchers in the Mariners’ 44-year history.
Therefore, to commemorate 30 years of Mariners no-hitters, this week’s Seattle Sidelines poll asked readers which no-hitter was the greatest in franchise history.
POLL: The 30th anniversary of the Seattle Mariners’ first no-hitter is Tuesday. Which of the M’s six no-hitters is the greatest? Full context, including a look at all six, here: https://t.co/cyNT9MN99L
— Nick Patterson (@NickHPatterson) June 1, 2020
Adding up the votes between the poll posted on the blog and the one posted on Twitter, and the 10-run rule had to be invoked. Felix Hernandez’s perfect game in 2012 was the runaway winner, receiving 65% of the vote. Johnson’s 1990 feat was a distant second at 21%. Just 5% went with James Paxton’s no-hitter in 2018, which is the most recent of the six. Chris Bosio in 1993, six pitchers (Kevin Millwood, Charlie Furbush, Stephen Pryor, Lucas Luetge, Brandon League, Tom Wilhelmsen) in 2012 and Hisashi Iwakuma in 2015, whether individually on the blog or combined into an “other” category on Twitter, combined for 9%.
Hernandez is the clear choice. A perfect game is as good as it gets — 27 up, 27 down — and it’s only been accomplished 23 times in major-league history. Add in Felix’s 12 strikeouts in the 1-0 victory over the Tampa Bay Rays, which was three more than the highest total in any of the other Mariners no-hitters, and by the numbers it’s no contest.
I thought it would be fun to go back and look at the coverage in The Herald of Hernandez’s perfect game. It happened on a Wednesday night on Aug. 15, 2012. We had a nuts-and-bolts no-quote game story in the paper, which talked about the 26-year-old Hernandez becoming the second Latin American player to throw a perfect game. But we were also fortunate that then-Herald sports columnist John Boyle happened to be at the game — something that wasn’t a given, considering at that time we had only one Seattle-based sports reporter, and the priority was covering the Seahawks. He typed up a column about Hernandez’s perfect game, giving the readers an idea of the electric atmosphere in the park and the nastiness of Felix’s stuff — Hernandez struck out five of the final six batters, and the game’s final pitch was a called third strike that was a 92 mph changeup.
A lot of Seattle’s no-hitters have something special attached to them. A first, like Johnson’s, is always a landmark. The six-pitcher no-hitter is tied for the major-league record for the most pitchers in a combined no-hitter. And Paxton going to Toronto and being the first Canadian to toss a no-hitter on Canadian soil was pretty cool.
But nothing beats perfection. And no one has ever been more perfect on the mound for the Mariners than King Felix was that day in 2012.