I was a sophomore in high school 23 years ago today, September 17, 1996. I had rushed home from school in order to prepare for the Dodgers/Rockies game scheduled for about 5:00 PM PST. The game was one of the selected 50 or so road games being telecast on KTLA channel 5. In those days there was no sportsnetla. Home games were not televised and unless the Dodgers were on ESPN (some of those were blacked out too) the only way to see Dodgers baseball was to watch one of the 50 or so road games carried on local television.
During that night, just 4 days before my sixteenth birthday, I decided to watch the game in my bedroom. I was tired from a long day at school, but falling asleep was not an option for me. The Dodgers were in a tight divisional race with the San Diego Padres and I did not want to miss a minute of the action. I settled into my bed, reclining onto my pillow.
Starting for the Dodgers that evening was Japanese right handed pitching sensation Hideo Nomo. I had seen Nomo several times during the summer before, affectionately being known as “Nomomania”. I can vividly remember seeing two of Nomo’s shutouts at Dodger Stadium that summer. I was a big Nomo fan at the time. He was fun to watch. When Nomo pitched everyone stopped and watched.
That night it was clear something special was happening. It was a rainy dreary night at Coors field in Denver. The game even saw a lengthy rain delay, (two hours I believe) and the game ended late into the evening. During that era, the Rockies had some of their greatest hitters of all time. The Blake street bombers of Larry Walker, Dante Bichette, Ellis Burk, and Vinny Castilla were hitting balls out of the park in record numbers. This was also during the non-humidor beginnings of Coors Field where games regular ended with football scores. Pop-ups were often home runs. The Dodgers would win 9-0. I think Mike Piazza hit a couple of bombs that game.
So it was thought to be impossible for anyone to even pitch a shutout there, let alone toss a no-hitter. Yet there was Nomo, doing the unthinkable. As the game progressed, I moved into the living room to watch on the bigger television. My sister was with me, and we both huddled together around the TV on that cool evening, willing Hideo to do something incredible.
Nomo would eventually pitch the first of his two career no-hitters and the only no-hitter ever at Coors Field. For the record there have been only 14 complete game shutouts thrown at Coors Field. Nomo’s starts were all simulcast back to Japan. Each of his starts were national spectacles for the Japanese, and rightfully so.
Vin Scully’s call of the final out was fittingly iconic. The legendary broadcaster called the first three and last three innings of the game bookending Ross Porter’s middle frames. His call of the last out is something we will never forget.
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Of course Vin was referencing to the fact that we were all seeing something that was nearly impossible, or said to be. He had to reference that fact. Because who would have thought anyone would pitch a no-hitter at that forsaken ballpark? Happy Anniversary Hideo Nomo no-hitter. I will never forget that game, and neither will Japan.
“And thank goodness they saw it in Japan”
Damn right Vin.