September traditionally has been the month of no-hitters, when tired teams out of the pennant race sprinkle their lineups with players recently called up from the minor leagues.
June 1990, however, is now the month of no-hitters.
Right-hander Dave Stewart of the Oakland Athletics and left-hander Fernando Valenzuela of the Los Angeles Dodgers pitched the third and fourth no-hitters of the month Friday night, the first time in this century two pitchers had nine-inning, complete game no-hitters on the same day. Never before had the American and National leagues had no-hitters on the same day.
It was a first for Friday's two stars: Stewart (10-6) struck out 12 in a 5-0 victory over the Blue Jays in Toronto; Valenzuela (6-6) struck out seven in a 6-0 victory over the St. Louis Cardinals in Los Angeles.
"This was the highlight of my career," Stewart said. "Winning 20 ballgames, that's something because they don't have to vote on 20 wins. But I thought after winning a World Series and an MVP that you couldn't top that. This does."
Valenzuela's greatest successes came at the beginning of the 1980s; he has had arm problems the last few seasons and hadn't gone nine innings in his last 10 starts. "In my last game in Cincinnati, I gave up eight runs in five innings," he recalled. "It's great to get this game. . . . I've been working for two years and this game is great because it shows all the work I've been doing."
Manager Tommy Lasorda said: "A guy who's accomplished all that he has over the years -- Cy Young, World Series victories, rookie of the year -- the one thing that had escaped him over the years has been a no-hitter and tonight he accomplished that. It couldn't have happened to a greater guy who has contributed so much to the Dodger organization."
Vince Coleman struck out leading off the Cardinals' ninth and Willie McGee followed with a walk. Former Dodger Pedro Guerrero then sent a shot back through the box, with Valenzuela just getting his glove on the ball. Juan Samuel fielded the ball near second, tagged the bag and threw to first for the double play.
When it ended, Valenzuela pumped his arms and catcher Mike Scioscia hugged his pitcher as the other Dodgers charged to the mound.
Valenzuela almost yielded a hit to the game's first batter, Coleman, who grounded deep to short. Alfredo Griffin's throw barely beat him. Griffin made a similar play on Willie McGee in the seventh, retiring him by a somewhat wider margin.
The Blue Jays, who lost their fifth straight game, had hardly anything resembling a hit. First baseman Mark McGwire ranged to his right for Tony Fernandez's fourth-inning grounder, went to his knees to backhand the ball, then flipped to Stewart covering for the out.
Fred McGriff, leading off the Toronto eight, sent center fielder Dave Henderson to the 400-foot sign for his drive but it was a routine catch.
Two no-hitters in one day is about the only way to eclipse what Nolan Ryan of the Texas Rangers accomplished on June 11. Against Stewart's Oakland team, considered the best hitting team in baseball, Ryan threw an unprecedented sixth no-hitter. No other pitcher has more than four.
Ryan, at 43, became the oldest to throw a no-hitter. He did it nine days after Seattle's Randy Johnson, at 6 feet 10, became the tallest. Johnson, with a 95 mph fastball and fits of wildness, gave the 14-year-old Seattle franchise its first no-hitter.
There was one no-hitter this year before June, when California's Mark Langston pitched seven innings, then Mike Witt finished. That was against Seattle on April 11.
There have been other double no-hitter dates: Two NL no-hitters were thrown on Oct. 15, 1892, by Bumpus Jones of the Cincinnati Reds against Pittsburgh and Jack Stivetts of the Boston Beaneaters against the Washington Senators. Jones thereby became the first to pitch a no-hitter in his major league debut. Stivetts' no-hitter was in a five-inning game.
On April 22, 1898, also in the NL, Ted Brietenstein of Cincinnati beat Pittsburgh, 11-0, and Jim Hughes of the Baltimore Orioles beat the Boston Beaneaters, 8-0.
On May 2, 1917, Hippo Vaughn of the Chicago Cubs and Fred Toney of the Reds pitched an unprecedented double no-hitter through nine innings. Vaughn gave up his first hit with one out in the 10th, eventually losing, 1-0, after giving up two hits in the inning.