Rick Wise

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Rick Wise

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Richard Charles Wise may have put on the greatest one-game performance in major league baseball history in 1971.

 

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Born in Jackson, Michigan, September 13, 1945, he was one of five children born to a father who taught high school history. Cliff Wise, who moved his family to Portland, Oregon, in 1948, was a two-sport athlete at the University of Michigan, pitching for the baseball team and backing up 1940 Heisman Trophy winner, Tom Harmon, as a running back for the Wolverines football team. His son, Rick, was also a standout athlete. In 1958, his Rose City Little League team went to the Little League World Series. Two years later, the same group went to the Babe Ruth World Series, where Wise pitched the second no-hitter in the tournament’s history. Wise attended James Madison High School in Portland, leading the Senators to their first-ever state baseball title in 1963. As a senior, he was All-City in football and basketball, while earning All-State honors in baseball. The Portland Tribune wrote, “There is little dispute that Rick Wise is one of the greatest athletes in Portland sports history.” Wise graduated at 17 and signed with the Philadelphia Phillies for a $ 12,000 bonus. “I had scholarship offers in all three sports, but I knew when I was in Little League that I wanted to play pro baseball.” After posting a 2.63 ERA and striking out 98 batters in 65 innings with Class A Bakersfield in 1963, Wise made the big league club in 1964. He made his debut on April 18, giving up one run on three hits in three innings of relief against the Chicago Cubs.

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On June 21, 1964, Wise earned his first MLB start–in the second game of a doubleheader against the New York Mets [Daily Dose, April 11] at Shea Stadium. In the first game of the twin-bill, Phillies’ ace Jim Bunning threw a perfect game. Wise started the nightcap, where he combined with John Klippstein for a three-hitter to set a record [that still stands] for fewest hits in a double header. “In the fourth inning I walked a batter and the huge crowd of over 32,000 erupted. At first, I didn’t understand the significance. It was the first baserunner all day for the Mets.” Seven years later, almost to the day, Wise took the mound on a muggy night in Cincinnati to face the defending National League champion Reds at Riverfront Stadium. The “Big Red Machine” featured some of the game’s most feared hitters, including Johnny Bench, Tony Perez, George Foster and Pete Rose— major league baseball’s all-time hit king. Wise retired the first dozen Reds in order before coming to the plate to face Ross Grimsley in the top of the fifth inning. With one out and a runner on second base, Cincinnati’s left-hander left a slider up in the strike zone, and Wise drilled it over the leftfield wall for a two run homer and a 3-0 lead. In the bottom of the sixth, Wise retired the first batter he faced before walking Reds shortstop Dave Concepcion, the first baserunner he had allowed all night. Wise then sent Bernie Carbo and Rose down in succession to strand Concepcion and keep it a 3-0 ballgame. Wise led off the top of the eighth, where he faced Clay Carroll. “Hawk” fell behind, 2-0, before delivering a fastball right down Broadway that Wise blasted for a solo shot to left-centerfield to give himself a 4-0 lead. Wise climbed the hill in the bottom of the ninth having not given up a hit all night. After pinch hitter Jimmy Stewart struck out looking, Ty Cline grounded to second, bringing Pete Rose, who was 0 for 3 on the night, to the plate. With 13,329 screaming fans on their feet and the count full, Wise delivered a fastball low and away that Rose—batting lefty against the right-handed pitcher—lined to third baseman John Vukovich for the final out of the game. Wise threw 94 pitches, struck out three and allowed one walk in his one hour- fifty-three-minute, no-hit gem.

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The following season, Rick Wise was involved in one of the most lopsided trades in baseball history, when the Phillies sent him to the St. Louis Cardinals in exchange for Steve Carlton. In 18 big league seasons, Wise compiled a career record of 188-181, while Carlton became one of the most dominant left-handers of all time, amassing 329 career wins and winning four Cy Young Awards in his Hall of Fame career. Wise, a two-time All-Star, had another two homer game in August 1971. He once retired 32 batters in a row–four shy of Harvey Haddix’s major league record—and threw three one-hitters in his career. Wise won 18 games for the Boston Red Sox in 1975, more than Luis Tiant or Bill Lee, and was the winning pitcher in Game Six of the 1975 World Series—considered by many as the greatest baseball game ever played. Mr. Wise hit 15 career home runs and started and won the 1973 All Star Game for the National League. In his career, Rick Wise played for five teams, threw 138 complete games and was the first pitcher to defeat all [then] 26 MLB teams.

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On this date in 1971, Rick Wise became the only player in major league baseball history to throw a no-hitter and hit two home runs in the same game.

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