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Looking back on the Cubs' no-hitters

Alec Mills tossed Chicago's most recent no-no in 2020
September 13, 2020

The Cubs have thrown 16 no-hitters in franchise history. The team has employed 14 pitchers who went on to make the Hall of Fame, but none of them are on that short list of those who threw no-nos for the club. All-time greats Fergie Jenkins, Pete Alexander and Mordecai "Three

The Cubs have thrown 16 no-hitters in franchise history. The team has employed 14 pitchers who went on to make the Hall of Fame, but none of them are on that short list of those who threw no-nos for the club.

All-time greats Fergie Jenkins, Pete Alexander and Mordecai "Three Finger" Brown never recorded no-hitters. Greg Maddux, who spent 10 seasons with the Cubs, also never had a no-hit game. Two Cubs Hall of Famers did toss no-nos -- Hoyt Wilhem and Dennis Eckersley -- while they were playing for other teams. Interestingly, both Wilhelm and Eckersley played more games as relievers than starters.

The Yankees are the only franchise other than the Cubs to record more than 10 no-hitters with none of them being thrown by Hall of Famers.

Sept. 13, 2020: Alec Mills, Cubs 12, Brewers 0
Mills had never thrown a complete game in his young career, let alone anything representing a no-hitter. In fact, he entered this game having only notched five wins across his first 27 Major League appearances. Mills only racked up five swings and misses, but balanced that with a career-high 26 called strikes. This was only the second no-hitter thrown at Milwaukee's Miller Park, but each of them were thrown by Cubs pitchers -- with two different opponents, as you'll see below.

April 21, 2016: Jake Arrieta, Cubs 16, Reds 0
Arrieta began the 2016 season with the same dominance that won him the National League Cy Young Award the year before, and in his fourth start of the season, the right-hander recorded his second career no-hitter.

The Cubs already led 2-0 when Arrieta trotted out to the mound for the first inning at Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati. By the middle of the sixth, with the Cubs ahead 8-0, the question wasn't whether they'd win the game, but if Arrieta could complete his no-hit bid.

Arrieta's command was somewhat shaky early on, and his pitch count was at 63 after the fourth inning. However, he cruised through the next four innings, throwing 11 pitches in both the fifth and the sixth and two nine-pitch frames in the seventh and the eighth.

"His command got better game in progress," manager Joe Maddon said after the game. "I thought early on, he was really fighting it."

Arrieta finished the game with a season-high 119 pitches, but the game was his to finish; Maddon didn't warm anybody up in the bullpen.

"This is why he won the Cy Young last year," Cubs catcher David Ross said. "He's got the capability of doing that every night. I think mentally he expects to do that. He's not shocked when he does stuff like that, and rightfully so."

Aug. 30, 2015: Arrieta, Cubs 2, Dodgers 0
Arrieta was baseball's best pitcher in the second half of the 2015 season, so it was fitting that his first career no-hitter came during that three-month stretch. In 18 starts from July 2-Oct. 2, the right-hander went 15-1 with a 0.89 ERA en route to winning the NL Cy Young Award.

Unlike his second no-hitter nearly eight months later, Arrieta was provided little run support that night at Dodger Stadium. Kris Bryant's two-run homer in the first inning accounted for the game's only runs.

The lone two Dodger baserunners were Kiké Hernández, who reached on an error by Starlin Castro in the third inning, and Jimmy Rollins, who walked with two outs in the sixth.

"It's tough to put it into words," Arrieta said. "You think about it all the time, and as a kid, and you see other guys around the league do it and you want to be a part of that. It's not only special for me and my family and friends, but the organization and my teammates."

Sept. 14, 2008: Carlos Zambrano, Cubs 5, Astros 0
Zambrano became the Major League's first pitcher to throw a no-hitter on a neutral field when he silenced the Astros at Miller Park in Milwaukee late in 2008.

The game was supposed to be played in Houston, but with Hurricane Ike making landfall on Sept. 13, Major League Baseball decided to relocate the two-game series. The Astros were frustrated with the relocation because the storm resulted in only minimal damage to Minute Maid Park and the proximity of Milwaukee from Chicago gave the Cubs what seemed like a home-field advantage, according to the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. More than 23,000 Cubs fans made the 90-minute drive.

Zambrano's performance was impressive nonetheless. He struck out 10, walked one and recorded one hit batsman, and his performance came at a key moment for the Cubs as they chased their first back-to-back postseason berths since they won three consecutive pennants from 1906-08. The no-hitter, which the Cubs won 5-0, was the team's third of five straight wins. At the end of the stretch, the Cubs held a nine-game lead in the National League Central.

Sept. 2, 1972: Milt Pappas, Cubs 8, Padres 0
The Cubs' most recent no-hitter at Wrigley Field came when Pappas stifled the Padres on Sept. 2, 1972. It was nearly a perfect game.

With two outs in the ninth inning, Larry Stahl pinch-hit for Padres reliever Al Severinsen and fell behind in the count 1-2 before drawing a walk.

Pappas then got Garry Jestadt to pop out to second baseman Carmen Fanzone to complete the no-hitter.

April 16, 1972: Burt Hooton, Cubs 4, Phillies 0
Hooton delivered the Cubs' first no-hitter of 1972 on the second game of the season against the Phillies. It was also the 22-year-old's fourth career start.

The achievement, however, could hardly be considered a breeze for Hooton, who walked seven and allowed at least one batter to reach base in six of the nine innings.

The Cubs held a 1-0 lead through six innings, and Hooton retired the first two Phillies hitters in the seventh. But he walked third baseman Don Money and right fielder Mike Anderson before striking out Denny Doyle looking to escape the jam.

June 3, 1971: Ken Holtzman, Cubs 1, Reds 0
Holtzman out-dueled right-hander Gary Nolan and notched his second career no-hitter in the Cubs' 1-0 over the Reds at Riverfront Stadium in Cincinnati.

Holtzman struck out six and walked four in the contest, and he also scored the game's only run. He reached base on an error by third baseman Tony Perez to lead off the third and scored from second on Glenn Beckert's one-out single to right.

Aug. 19, 1969: Holtzman, Cubs 3, Braves 0
Holtzman's first no-hitter was the second of two Major League no-nos recorded in which the winning pitcher didn't have any strikeouts. The first one came when the Yankees' "Sad" Sam Jones no-hit the A's in 1923.

The 23-year-old lefty had a tall task that day as he faced the Braves and a lineup that featured three future Hall of Famers: Hank Aaron, Orlando Cepeda and pitcher Phil Niekro. Niekro, a 30-year-old right-hander, finished second for the NL Cy Young Award in 1969 and went 23-13 with a 2.56 ERA.

The wind reportedly was blowing in from left field that day at Wrigley, which worked out in Holtzman's favor. Aaron, who hit 44 homers that year, smacked what he thought was a home run before the wind blew it back and into Billy Williams' glove.

"The thing I remember the most about playing at Wrigley Field is hitting probably the hardest ball I've ever hit in my life off Kenny Holtzman when he pitched a no-hitter," Aaron told WGN-TV director Bob Vorwald in 2014. "I thought for sure I hit a home run. Sure enough, the wind blew it back to Billy Williams."

Future Hall of Fame third baseman Ron Santo did connect for a three-run homer in the second inning that provided Holtzman with all the offense he needed.

May 15, 1960 (Game 2 of doubleheader): Don Cardwell, Cubs 4, Cardinals 0
Cardwell's career record entering this start was just 17-26, and he had exited his last outing for the Phillies nine days earlier with a strained arm. Teammate Ernie Banks was presented his 1959 NL MVP Award before the game, but Cardwell stole the show in his first game after being traded to the Cubs, allowing just one baserunner to Chicago's rival via walk. That free pass came with one out in the first, and Cardwell retired the last 26 batters he faced.

May 12, 1955: Sam Jones, Cubs 4, Pirates 0
Jones was the first African-American to throw a no-hitter in Major League history, and he did so in his rookie season.

With the Cubs ahead 4-0 in the top of the ninth, Jones walked the first three Pirates hitters of the inning before buckling down to strike out the side, preserve the lead and complete the no-hitter.

Jones' no-hitter was the Cubs' first since 1915.

Aug. 31, 1915: Jimmy Lavender, Cubs 2, Giants 0
Lavender threw the Cubs' first no-hitter in the modern era, and it was the franchise's first no-hitter with the "Cubs" name, which was adopted in 1903.

Lavender, a right-hander, struck out eight Giants hitters and walked one in the 2-0 win.

Aug. 21, 1898: Walter Thornton, Orphans 2, Bridegrooms 0
Thornton, a two-way player for the Chicago Orphans, no-hit the Brooklyn Bridegrooms in the second game of a doubleheader in 1898, his final season in the Majors.

Thornton played just four MLB seasons and called it quits at 23 years old, finishing the 1898 season with a 13-10 record and a 3.34 ERA.

July 27, 1885: John Clarkson, White Stockings 4, Grays 0
Clarkson delivered the Cubs' first no-hitter on the road in a matchup with Providence and Old Hoss Radbourn. Clarkson's no-hitter came during a season in which he posted numbers that pitchers can only dream of today: he went 53-16 with a 1.85 ERA and 308 strikeouts, making 70 starts, pitching 68 complete games and 10 shutouts and throwing 623 innings. He led the Majors in all those categories except ERA, where he finished third.

June 27, 1884: Larry Corcoran, White Stockings 6, Grays 0
Corcoran became the first Major League pitcher to throw three no-hitters. His third and final one came on June 27, 1884, against the Providence Grays, which existed from 1878 to 1885.

Corcoran, a 5-foot-3 right-hander, logged an average of 456 innings during his first five seasons before his arm burned out, according to the Society of American Baseball Research (SABR).

In 1884, his last season as a regular pitcher, Corcoran went 35-23 with a 2.40 ERA. He pitched 516 and 2/3 innings and he completed 57 of the 59 games he started that season.

Sept. 20, 1882: Corcoran, White Stockings 1, Ruby Legs 0
Corcoran's second no-hitter came in 1882 against the Worcester Ruby Legs. The no-hitter was one in a stretch of 10-straight wins for Corcoran.

He went 27-12 with a 1.95 ERA in 355 2/3 innings, and Chicago won its third consecutive pennant that season, according to SABR.

Aug. 19, 1880: Corcoran, White Stockings 1, Red Stockings 0
Corcoran pitched his first no-no in 1880, his first season, against the Boston Red Stockings.

The phrase "no-hitter" had yet to be used, but the Chicago Tribune said at the time that the Red Stockings "obtained neither a tally nor a base-hit", and "Corcoran was never in such form before," per SABR.

Corcoran won 43 games that year and posted a 1.95 ERA over 536 1/3 innings.

Matthew Martell is a reporter for MLB.com based in Chicago.