“I can’t believe it happened 50 years ago. 50 years!” Rick Wise, now 75 years of age, made that comment in a chat earlier this month.
Yes, it was June 23, 1971, when Rick did something that had never been done before and has not been done since, hitting two home runs while pitching a no-hitter. It happened in Cincinnati’s Riverfront Stadium against the Big Red Machine. Final score, 4-0.
To commemorate the historic gem, the Phillies are bringing Rick and his wife Susan to Philadelphia. He’ll throw out the first ball at the June 23 afternoon game against Washington.
“I haven’t been in Philadelphia for a long, long time. The Phillies drafted me, gave me a chance and got me started in the Majors in 1964,” he said with his voice bubbling over. “Susan is from Pennsylvania. Our son and daughter were born in Philadelphia, and I got my first big league win after Jim Bunning’s perfect game in ’64.”
Rick’s memory of his historic gem is amazing considering it happened 50 years ago.
Only a sixth-inning walk to Davey Concepcion kept him from a perfect game. “I went 3-0, got a strike but then overthrew a fastball up in the zone. It was one of the few pitches I threw out of the strike zone.” He threw 95 pitches that historic night, 56 of them fastballs and 39 of them breaking pitches.
His first home run came in the fifth inning. “Ross Grimsley left a slider up in the zone and I hit it into the left field seats.
“I led off the eighth inning against Clay Carroll who fell behind in the count 2-0. I checked the third-base coach (George Myatt) for a sign, and he just turned his back on me. In other words, the green light was on---swing at it! Clay threw the next pitch right down Broadway, and I was ready. Home run number two to left center.
“The Cincinnati fans rose to their feet as I started the ninth inning. That was special. I retired the first two batters and low and behold, Pete Rose came to the plate and stood between me and a no-hitter. He was the last hitter you wanted to see with one out remaining in a no-no. The count went to 3-2 and I went with a fast ball, low and away ---a semi line drive to John Vukovich and the game was complete. My greatest game ever!” Time of game: 1:53.
Terry Harmon, 2B
Larry Bowa, SS
Tim McCarver, C
Deron Johnson, 1B
Joe Lis, LF (Ron Stone for defense)
Willie Montanez, CF
Roger Freed, RF
John Vukovich, 3B
Rick Wise, P