Remembering the unlikeliest no-hitter of all time

Nomo accomplished the feat at hitter-friendly Coors Field on Sept. 17, 1996

September 17th, 2022

It may be hard to believe, but it's been 26 years since Hideo Nomo threw what has to be considered perhaps the most unlikely no-hitter in Major League history.

Though no-hitters are already one of the most difficult accomplishments in baseball, Nomo faced some additional obstacles on Sept. 17, 1996, when he tossed the first of his two career no-nos. Nomo's historic achievement that night came against the Rockies at Coors Field in Denver -- one of the most hitter-friendly ballparks of all time.

Nomo not only defied the odds by the ballpark in which he recorded the no-hitter, but he also did so by the season in which he did it. Despite the atmospheric conditions creating an environment ripe for hitting year after year in Denver, the 1996 season, in particular, was one of the most prolific offensive seasons at Coors Field -- or any other ballpark, for that matter.

As a nod to the 26th anniversary of Nomo's no-no, here's a look at 10 of the most staggering facts and figures surrounding the implausible performance.

• Teams combined to post a 7.06 ERA at Coors Field in 1996, which was not only the highest in the Majors that season, but it remains the highest ERA for any individual ballpark in a single season in Major League history. The second-highest ERA also belongs to Coors Field, set in '99 with a 6.97 mark.

• There were 1,900 hits at Coors Field in 1996, nearly 200 more than any other ballpark. Boston's Fenway Park checked in with the second most at 1,704 hits. The second-highest hit total at any National League park was an even more distant 1,543, registered at Pittsburgh's former home, Three Rivers Stadium.

• The hitter-friendly atmosphere at Coors Field also contributed to an average of 1.71 home runs per nine innings in 1996, which was highest total for any ballpark in a full season at the time. It remains the second-highest total for any NL ballpark, trailing only the 1.89 homers per nine innings at, you guessed it, Coors Field in 1999.

• Not only was Nomo the only visiting starter to toss a shutout at Coors Field in 1996, but he was the only opposing starter in 81 tries to even throw a complete game.

• In fact, out of the 162 starting pitchers to toe the rubber at Coors Field in 1996, only 35 completed seven innings. That was the lowest such total across the Majors, with San Diego's ballpark -- Jack Murphy Stadium -- checking in with the second-lowest total in the NL at 49 such outings.

• Forget allowing zero hits over nine innings -- aside from Nomo, no other visiting starter managed to hold Colorado to fewer than even three hits over at least six innings that season.

• Nomo finished with an 8.05 ERA in 10 career starts at Coors Field -- and that's including his no-hitter. That's his second-highest ERA for any stadium in which he made at least five starts, behind only the 8.20 mark he racked up in six career starts at Yankee Stadium. Excluding the no-hitter, Nomo posted a 9.74 ERA in his other nine outings at Coors.

• Nomo finished his career allowing 11.4 hits per nine innings in those 10 Coors Field starts, his highest hits-per-nine total for any stadium in which he pitched at least 30 innings. That total jumps to a whopping 13.8 hits per nine when looking at his nine starts aside from the no-hitter.

• Vinny Castilla, who hit sixth for the Rockies on the night of the no-hitter, finished his career 18-for-44 (.409) with five home runs against Nomo. The five homers are tied for the most by any player against Nomo, while Gary Sheffield (.486) is the only player with a higher career average among players who faced Nomo at least 30 times. Castillo went 0-for-3 with a strikeout and two flyouts.

• Colorado led all teams that season in home batting average, on-base percentage, slugging percentage, hits, double, triples, home runs, runs scored, stolen bases and BABIP. The Rockies had 132 more hits when playing at Coors Field than any other team had in its home ballpark, while their .343 home batting average was 41 points higher than Boston's second-place mark of .302.