There have been more than 300 no-hitters in Major League Baseball history, and 56 pitchers on record have produced at least one multihomer effort. But only one player has completed both feats in the same game.
The epic performance came on June 23, 1971 -- 51 years ago Thursday -- as Phillies right-hander Rick Wise fired a no-no against the Reds and drove in three of Philadelphia’s four runs with his two homers.
Although Wise was close to league average during his big league tenure (lifetime 101 ERA+), his 18-year career was far from ordinary, as he had a penchant for popping up in historically significant events.
The following is all true of Wise:
He was traded for a future first-ballot Hall of Famer -- twice.
In February 1972, Philadelphia sent Wise to the Cardinals for 27-year-old southpaw Steve Carlton. Wise made an immediate impact for St. Louis, finishing second on the club with a career-high 5.3 Wins Above Replacement, per Baseball-Reference, in 1972. But his season paled in comparison to Carlton’s debut in Philadelphia.
The left-hander went 27-10 with a 1.97 ERA (182 ERA+) and 310 strikeouts in 346 1/3 innings, winning the pitching Triple Crown and earning the NL Cy Young Award unanimously. Carlton’s 12.5 bWAR is tied for the eighth-highest single-season mark among all players in the Modern Era. Carlton went on to win three more Cy Youngs, and he finished his career with 329 victories and 4,136 strikeouts. He helped the Phillies win the first World Series title in franchise history in 1980, and became a first-ballot Hall of Famer in ’94.
Wise, meanwhile, spent just two seasons with the Cardinals, as he was traded to the Red Sox after the 1973 campaign. In March 1978, he was dealt again, this time to Cleveland with three others. In return, Boston received Dennis Eckersley and Fred Kendall.
At the time, Eckersley was a 23-year-old starter coming off his first All-Star season. The righty became a lockdown closer later in his career and was elected to the Hall on his first ballot in 2004.
He once retired 32 consecutive batters in a game -- and won it with a walk-off single.
Nearly three months after his no-hitter in 1971, Wise made his third-to-last start of the season, facing the Cubs at Veterans Stadium. After allowing three runs on four hits within the first seven batters, Wise proceeded to retire 32 in a row, the equivalent of a perfect game plus five more outs.
The only pitcher to put together a longer streak within a single game is Harvey Haddix, who famously retired the first 36 batters he faced for the Pirates on May 26, 1959, before losing the perfecto and the game in the bottom of the 13th.
Wise ensured the Phillies didn’t suffer the same fate, delivering a walk-off single after the Cubs intentionally walked two batters to load the bases.
He’s the last pitcher to hit a homer during his own no-hitter.
Wes Ferrell, Jim Tobin and Earl Wilson were the first three pitchers to throw a no-hitter and go deep in the same game. Wise one-upped them on June 23, 1971, and nobody has done it since.
The same number of pitchers have slugged two homers on the same day they threw a complete-game shutout. The list: Milt Pappas (1961), Pedro Ramos (1962), Sonny Siebert (1971) and Wise.
He’s the last pitcher to record more than one multihomer game in a season.
The 1971 season proved to be Wise’s best year at the plate, as he recorded career highs in hits (23), homers (six) and RBIs (15).
He had a second two-homer game on Aug. 28, 1971, making him the last pitcher to record more than one multihomer game in a season and the 11th with at least two such games in his career.
He was the winning pitcher in Game 6 of the 1975 World Series.
Game 6 of the 1975 World Series between the Red Sox and the Reds is best remembered for Boston catcher Carlton Fisk’s wave-it-fair homer over the Green Monster -- one of the most iconic blasts in baseball history. The Red Sox's pitcher of record when Fisk went yard? None other than Wise.
Making the third and final postseason appearance of his career, Wise came out of the bullpen in the top of the 12th and put two men on before fanning Cesar Geronimo to end the threat. In the bottom of the frame, Fisk led off with his legendary home run.
Wise went on to pitch seven more seasons after that, appearing in his final game at age 36 in 1982. While he wasn’t a Hall of Famer by any stretch, he clearly had an eventful career, and his two-homer no-hitter is arguably the greatest two-way performance of all time.
Here are the other top contenders.
Micah Owings, D-backs
Aug. 18, 2007 (7 IP, 3 ER; 4-for-5, 2 HR, 6 RBIs)
Owings, who had a better OPS+ (106) than ERA+ (91) in his six-year career, turned in his best two-way showing in 2007, going 4-for-5 with two homers, a double, six RBIs and four runs scored, all while holding the Braves to three runs on three hits and no walks with seven strikeouts in seven innings.
Sonny Siebert, Red Sox
Sept. 2, 1971 (9 IP, 3 H, 0 R; 2-for-3, 2 HR, 3 RBIs)
Siebert belted a career-high six homers for the Red Sox in 1971 -- the second-to-last American League season with no designated hitter. Two of them came on Sept. 2, when he also tossed a three-hit shutout with seven K's and two walks against the Orioles. He's the most recent pitcher to homer twice while throwing a shutout.
Tony Cloninger, Braves
July 3, 1966 (9 IP, 3 ER; 3-for-5, 2 HR, 9 RBIs)
Cloninger remains the only pitcher in big league history to hit two grand slams in the same game, and he also happened to throw a complete game against the Giants in a 17-3 rout at Candlestick Park.
Pedro Ramos, Indians
May 30, 1962 (9 IP, 3 H, 0 R; 2 HR, 5 RBIs)
Ramos, a journeyman who pitched for seven teams over 15 seasons in the big leagues, took the Orioles' Chuck Estrada deep twice in this game and also held Baltimore's bats to three hits in a shutout.
Milt Pappas, Orioles
Aug. 27, 1961 (9 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 11 K's; 2 HR)
Pappas allowed just two hits, struck out 11 batters and became the first player on record to throw a shutout and hit two round-trippers in the same game.
Jim Tobin, Boston Braves
May 13, 1942 (9 IP, 3 ER; 3 HR, 4 RBIs)
Two years before homering in a no-hitter, Tobin became the first (and only) pitcher to blast three home runs in a game. His third shot of the day broke a 4-4 tie with the Cubs in the bottom of the eighth, and he finished off the win in the next half-inning.
Wes Ferrell, Indians
April 29, 1931 (9 IP, 0 H, 0 R; 1 HR, 1 2B, 4 RBIs)
MLB's all-time home run king among pitchers with 38, Ferrell had five multihomer games in his career, but his signature two-way performance came on April 29, 1931, when he threw a no-hitter and chipped in with a homer, a double and four RBIs in a 9-0 win over the St. Louis Browns.
May 9, 1918 (9 2/3 IP, 2 ER; 5-for-5, 3 2B, 1 3B)
Ruth is one of seven pitchers on record to collect five hits in a game and the only one to post at least four extra-base hits, achieving both feats in this 1918 contest against the Washington Senators. Ruth ended up taking the loss, but he threw 9 2/3 innings and allowed two earned runs.