My seven-year old daughter watched her first Dodger no-hitter on Sunday when Josh Beckett pitched the 21st no-hitter for the Dodgers. It was a special moment being that I got to share the butterflies and nervous jitters I felt in that ninth inning with my two daughters who watched the gem unfold that memorable morning. My youngest daughter may not remember Beckett’s beautiful game, but my older daughter most definitely will cherish her first Dodger no-hitter memory.
I was only one-year old when Jerry Reuss pitches his no-hitter, and Fernando Valenzuela and Kevin Gross‘s no-hitters are somewhat foggy in my memory. Yet I distinctly remember Ramon Martinez and Hideo Nomo‘s amazing no-hitters quite vividly, and I hope that there are more Dodger no-hitters in the future to add to my Blue memory bank.
I have never had the opportunity to see a no-hitter live, but I almost felt like I was in Philadelphia on Sunday while I hung on to every pitch and every moment. My daughters and husband probably thought I was a bit insane as I screamed after every strike and every out from the eighth inning on. “This is history!” I exclaimed as I anxiously paced around my living room when Beckett walked Jimmy Rollins with two outs in the ninth.
I thought it would be Clayton Kershaw. I always thought Clayon Kershaw would be the Dodger pitcher to pitch a no-hitter for this generation. Sometimes no-hitters come from a pitcher who has the most fire inside whether or not they are the best pitcher in the league or they are one of the best pitchers of the last decade who has had a long career but has something left in the tank. After any other Major League pitcher has completed a no-hitter, I of course salute the outstanding
performance (even Tim Lincecum‘s no-hitter deserved a nod), but in the back of my mind I always yearned for a Dodger no-hitter- a Dodger no-hitter for me as an adult. Am I selfish because I wanted to see another Dodger no-hitter now that I write about the Boys in Blue everyday and my love for the team grows as each article is written and posted? Yes, I get to write about Beckett’s no-hitter now, but there’s very little I can write that can really give justice to the near perfect game which he pitched.
Beckett’s 2014 season was building to this pinnacle of pitching. After fourteen seasons, Beckett was not ready to hang up his cleats for good. He still had that desire to pitch, and his determination and dedication to his sport in order to wage a comeback story for the ages cannot go unnoticed and undocumented. Beckett, the former World Series M.V.P., no longer had the decimating fastball of his youth, but his superior pitch selections and his tenacity really gave him the instant edge over the bewildered Phillies lineup on Sunday. Beckett was cool and calm, but his Texas fire burned from within that morning.
The 34-year old veteran didn’t win his first game since 2012 until he beat the Marlins on May 13th. It took him seven starts to pick up his first W of the 2014 season and the first W since coming back from thoracic outlet syndrome surgery. No one knew whether Beckett could pitch successfully again after undergoing the major surgery, but with one less rib, Beckett had all the feeling both in his fingers and in his heart in order to make Dodger history this past weekend. Beckett’s no-hitter over the Phillies was his third victory in a row this season, and even though there was a couple of bumpy spots along the way, his season thus far has been worthy of Comeback Player of the Year.
Even though Beckett had already been a World Series M.V.P., his no-hitter was certainly his crowning achievement. Not only did Beckett pitch the first Dodger no-hitter in 18 years, but his hard work and determination could be one of the most inspiring no-hitter stories in baseball history.
“Are hits good, mommy?” My daughter asked me the question while we were watching Beckett’s no-hitter on Sunday. “The Phillies are not going to get a hit, honey. And that’s good.” I replied.
This past Spring my daughter had the opportunity to meet Don Mattingly and Dee Gordon while getting their autographs at Camelback Ranch, and now months later we watched Josh Beckett pitch a no-hitter together. Josh Beckett will forever be a Dodger, and we will forever have the memories.
That final fastball, a 94-mph two-seamer, to Chase Utley for the final out was one of the most beautiful and amazing pitches I have ever seen. That one pitch summed up Beckett’s entire career. Josh may have been going to his curveball more than ever this season, but his fastball was the pitch which put the fire back into the hearts of Dodger fans.
Congratulations, Josh Beckett!