Friday, August 23, 2019

Rare History - Plate Umpire's Back-to-Back No-Hitters

One of umpiring's rarest feats passed by without much fanfare this season as an umpire worked no-hitters in consecutive plate jobs. Takahito "Taka" Matsuda of MiLB Double-A's Eastern League accomplished the rare feat on April 25 and 29, 2019, when he called two no-hitters that happened to fall across back-to-back assignments as a home plate umpire, thanks in part to inclement weather in New York.

The fun for Matsuda began in Binghamton as Taka called the Portland Seadogs' 2-0 victory and combined no-hitter over the host Rumble Ponies on Thursday, April 25, with crewmates Derek Thomas and Mike Raines in the field.

Stormy weather postponed Sunday's scheduled game between Portland and Binghamton, which pushed Matsuda's next plate assignment back a day to Monday, April 29th in Altoona, where Erie Seawolves pitcher Casey Mize spun nine innings of no-hit ball to defeat the host Curve 1-0, and cap off the rarest of rare umpiring feats.

To illustrate how rare the back-to-back umpiring no-hitter is, we looked at the record books for Major League Baseball, where such records are kept.

Bill Dinneen umpired from 1909 to 1937.
Many umpires have called two no-hitters in a season, but you'd have to go back nearly a century, to 1923, in order to find the last no-hitters on back-to-back plate assignments in the major leagues. American League Umpire Bill Dinneen called the September 4 New York (AL) no-no over Philadelphia from behind home plate and returned three days later to preside as umpire-in-chief over Boston's no-hitter over Philadelphia (poor Philly) on September 7. Dinneen, tangentially, is also the only person in AL, NL, or MLB history to have both pitched and officiated a no-hitter (he threw a no-hitter as a pitcher for the Boston Americans on September 27, 1905 and called six no-hitters as an umpire).

Before that, it was Dick Nallin benefiting from a two-person umpire crew to call the St. Louis Browns' no-hitters on May 5 and 6, 1917, both against the Chicago White Sox; the clubs played a doubleheader on May 6, which afforded Nallin the pleasure of working the plate on consecutive days, such that Nallin holds the distinction of being the only major league umpire to have called two no-hitters from behind the plate on back-to-back calendar days.

You'd have to fast forward to April 30 and May 1, 1969 to find a crew that had back-to-back no-hitters on consecutive days again, as Cincinnati no-hit Houston on April 30th (Crew Chief Frank Secory as plate umpire), while Houston returned the favor and no-hit Cincinnati on May 1 (David "Satch" Davidson as plate umpire). Paul Pryor and Tony Venzon were the other two umpires on that crew.


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