Could Chris Waters be part of a 2009 “Why Not?” revival?
by Matthew Taylor
Chris Waters surprised even the experts this week with his stellar major league debut, during which he tossed eight one-hit innings against the best team in baseball, the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.
Waters joined a rare club on Tuesday as only six pitchers since 1956 have started their major league careers by going at least eight innings and giving up only one hit. This week’s Flashback Friday revisits the efforts of the most recent Oriole prior to Waters to offer up an eight inning, one-hit wonder his first time out, Bob Milacki.
Milacki accomplished the feat on Sept. 18, 1998, pitching eight innings, giving up one hit, striking out four, and walking four. His opponent that day, Frank Tanana, gave up only two runs in 8.1 innings pitched for the Tigers, but he still took the loss.
Milacki , who raised the Birds’ dismal 1988 record to 52-95 with his gem, finished the season 2-0 in three games pitched, throwing 25 innings and giving up just nine hits, two runs, and one home run, for an ERA of 0.72 with the WHIP to match. One year later he was a critical part of the O’s “Why Not?” season, finishing 14-12 with a 3.74 ERA. (Be sure to check out the Birds in the Belfry recap of that incredible 1989 run.)
While it’s hard to overlook the magic of the “Why Not?” season, Milacki is perhaps best known for his role in a combined no-hitter against the Oakland A’s on July 13, 1991. Milacki pitched six innings that day and joined Mike Flanagan, Mark Williamson, and Gregg Olson in the no-hit effort.
Said soon-to-be-Orioles-Hall-of-Famer Olson at the time: “Bob Milacki was the guy who deserved the credit. If he would have still been out there, there would have been a dogpile. He should get the brunt of the celebration.”
Milacki didn’t always need help during his no-hit bids. On May 28, 1987, he threw 11 1/3 innings of no-hit ball in the minors, a Southern League record, and eventually settled for a 13-inning, one-hit outing against Chattanooga.
Of losing his extra-innings no-hitter, Milacki joked: ”I thought it was about time they got one. I wasn’t disappointed at all. I thought it was kind of funny that it went on that long.”
Despite his history on the mound, Milacki still must battle Billy Hatcher and Curt Schilling for the title of “the pride of Yavapai Community College.”