I’ll admit it. I was rooting for it.
I was out on Seventh Avenue in front of Penn Station using the time before the 9:39 Babylon train was announced to hear Howie Rose call history in the making. It was too absorbing a broadcast to let go to waste on a late two-out single that would turn a potential night for the ages into another routinely depressing Met offensive performance.
Also, it was bound to happen, and not just because I basically never expect the depleted Mets to hit even a little. The Mets had gone 22 years without being on the wrong side of one of these babies. The night it happened in Houston, at the hands of Darryl Kile in 1993, it also felt bound to happen. That was the year when anything that could go wrong did go wrong. By September, there was no chance the Mets wouldn’t be no-hit. It had been 18 years since Ed Halicki. It felt strangely overdue then, too. When Halicki did it, I remember thinking, “Well, here we go again.” I remembered Bill Stoneman doing it three years before Halicki did it, three after Bob Moose did it. I have no personal recollection of Bob Moose doing it. I learned about his no-hitting the Mets in the Bob Moose biographical comic booklet  that came in a pack of cards the year after he did it. I seem to recall Moose’s comic balloon emphasizing that the Mets went on to win the World Series. It was tough to look back in anger, given the context of 1969.
Before Kile, Halicki, Stoneman and Moose, the Mets were no-hit every ten minutes, or so it seemed. Actually, they were no-hit twice: Sandy Koufax in 1962, Jim Bunning with the perfect game in 1964. There was also Jim Maloney carrying a no-no into the eleventh in 1965 . Thanks to Frank Lary, the Mets kept that one tied. Thanks to Johnny Lewis, the Mets got that one won. Maloney’s incredible effort from 50 years ago this Sunday used to be listed with the no-hitters thrown at the Mets, but was eventually expunged because the arbiters of such monumental acheivements aren’t much fun.
But this, Chris Heston throwing a no-hitter versus the Mets last night, was fun. Perverse fun. Historic fun. Broadcasting fun. I’m pretty sure I was rooting less for a pitcher I’d never heard of until the night before and more for the announcer I’d been listening to for close to three decades.
I wanted to hear Howie Rose call a no-hitter. Yes, I’m aware he already has a pretty significant one under his belt, but I was watching on television that night. I would’ve been watching on television last night, except I was out. I was listening on and off to the game because it was the game. I carry a radio around because that’s what I’ve always done when the Mets are in the air and I can’t be by a TV. I planted myself outside Penn because it was this game.
Briefly I reconsidered my stance. The Mets once upon a time trailed the Expos by six runs entering the ninth inning  and tied it before winning in the eleventh. The Mets once upon a longer ago time trailed the Giants — the Giants — by four runs entering the ninth inning and won it with five Magical runs . Was there a Carl Everett or a Steve Henderson or an extraordinarily muscular Johnny Lewis who could provide a five-run blast last night? I’d throw this no-hitter overboard in a second if I thought the Mets could make something out of this game other than a nuisance of themselves.
No, I determined. They’re in first place, and they are to be lauded for it, but tonight they are not going to suddenly score five runs. There’s “never say die” and there’s acceptance that some cases are probably terminal. Go ahead, Chris Heston, take your best shot.
Go ahead, Howie Rose. Take us on Heston’s journey.
I listened to the eighth out on Seventh and I thought about sticking around for the ninth. But then I’d be missing the 9:39 and screw that. The next train out would probably include Yankees fans coming back from their team helpfully keeping our team in first place by beating the Nationals. I don’t need that kind of company. When the eighth is over, I reasoned, I’ll run downstairs, I’ll grab a window seat, I’ll finesse the wire that connects my earbuds to my radio and I’ll try to get as much of a signal as I can while sitting in then rolling through the tunnel.
There wasn’t much clear channel to be had. I got as far as learning Heston got Tejada to two-and-two with two out before everything blanked out. Radio was no help, phone was no help. I was the personification of that Flintstones episode in which Fred and Barney are fishing in the middle of the ocean and Mickey Marble has hit a ball that is going…going…and Barney accidentally knocks the stone age radio into the drink. Boy, was Fred angry.
Next thing I could decipher over WOR as my train poked its nose into Long Island City was a car commercial, so I assumed the bottom of the ninth ended as I’d come to want it, with the Mets not compiling a hit. And I was right.
I keep coming back to the word history, which can take the shape of HI57ORY if we’re lucky or Hest-ory when we’re not. Heston, No. 53 for the visitors, did his part. Howie did the rest. Howie invoked Bunning, remembering the support he garnered at Shea as he set down the Mets on Father’s Day 1964. Mets fans root for a Phillie? It was a different time, a different standard, a different set of expectations, Howie said, with just a little sadness infiltrating his voice, that fans take anything that doesn’t go their way maybe a little too “personally” today. His implied message was how often do you get to see a no-hitter?
Or hear one?
You gotta hear this one , as called by Howie Rose in the bottom of the ninth. I listened to some of it after I got home, I transcribed it this morning and I share it with you now in honor of a terrific broadcaster carrying on in the tradition of another terrific broadcaster, Bob Murphy, an announcer who wouldn’t let the wrong color uniform get in the way of painting a brilliant and detailed word picture.
Here’s Howie’s call. Murph would be proud.
Well, if San Francisco Giants righthander Chris Heston could responsibly be described before the game as a rather NON-descript pitcher, well, there’s been absolutely nothing ordinary about what he’s achieved tonight.
However it ends, it’s going to be one of the most memorable games of his life.
He has no-hit the New York Mets through eight innings.
We start the bottom of the ninth with the Giants leading five to nothing, ANTHONY Recker leads off for New York. He’s oh for two, grounded to second, grounded to third.
Heston DELIVERS his first pitch and he HITS Recker. And that answers any question you might have about whether there’s either a little extra ADRENALINE or perhaps just extra NERVOUSNESS…COURSING through Chris Heston right now.
His first pitch hits Anthony Recker, the THIRD batter that he’s hit tonight, so Recker the runner at first, and DANNY Muno will bat for Sean Gilmartin.
[Josh Lewin interjects: “He’s cast as the, uh, Jimmy Qualls I guess here, huh?”]
Well, Muno, a switch-hitter batting left…and Heston’s first pitch, a curveball in for a called strike, nothing and one, and if he was a little extra amped up, that should calm him down.
Muno two for nineteen. One for four as a pinch-hitter.
Infield at double play depth, the pitch, fastball lined FOUL off to the left of home plate downstairs, it’s oh and two.
The paid crowd tonight, twenty-three thousand one-hundred and fifty-five. If Heston pulls this off, there will be many MORE who insist that they were there as the years pass.
Oh and two to Muno. Heston to the belt, DEALS. Curveball in there, STRIKE THREE CALLED. One out in the ninth, Heston has no-hit the Mets for eight and one THIRD innings.
And with a runner at first and one out, consider that any pitch now could be the final one of the night should GRANDERSON hit a ground ball that the Giants turn into two.
For Heston, the strikeout, his ninth of the game.
Not a big strikeout pitcher, but tonight he’s had EVERYthing working.
They will overshift the infield, three on the right side against Granderson.
Heston’s first pitch…taken outside, a changeup, one and oh.
The Giants not at all concerned about Recker. They’re not holding against him, Brandon Belt pretty deep and WAY off the bag when that first pitch was delivered.
Belt a little CLOSER now, perhaps because they wanna keep that double play in order, but now he drops back.
The one-oh pitch, curveball OVER, strike one, it’s one and one, and that pitch has been absolutely DAZZLING by Heston tonight.
That a little bit more of the twelve-to-six type curve. He’s also had a rather slurvy looking one that’s been effective.
One and one the count. Here’s the pitch, fastball low outside, ball two.
Giants will start to get some action in their bullpen. The pitch count not an issue in and of itself. He’s thrown a hundred and three. He’s thrown one game of a hundred and twelve, another a hundred eleven.
Two and one to Granderson, now the pitch. Fastball, popped FOUL, into the seats downstairs behind third.
TWO and TWO to Curtis Granderson.
Well, Brandon Belt, the first baseman, reaches down, puts an errant HOT dog wrapper or piece of paper into his pocket, and you’d never know what Heston’s doin’. He’s all business, already waiting to go on the mound.
Two and two to Granderson, the pitch, FASTBALL IN THERE, STRIKE THREE CALLED! He got him on the inside corner at the knees, and CHRIS HESTON is ONE OUT AWAY from NO-HITTING the New York Mets.
It is his tenth strikeout of the game, the third time that he’s gotten Granderson.
And NOW it is up to Ruben TEJADA, who is oh for two and was hit by a pitch.
Remember, Heston has not walked a batter. The only THREE baserunners the Mets have had tonight have been hit batsmen: Tejada; the man on deck Duda — they came back to back in the fourth — and Recker to start the ninth.
Many in this crowd are standing, some taking pictures. Recker runs, first pitch, breaking ball, outside, ball one. Recker takes second on defensive indifference.
So Heston, one hundred and six pitches thrown, just rubs the ball up and goes right back to the rubber, he’s not WALKIN’ around, not sucking anything IN, or takin’ extra deep breaths, he’s just ready to pump. One and oh to Tejada.
Heston to the belt, now the pitch…fastball chopped towards third, foul ball, past coach Tim Teufel. It’s ONE and ONE.
Many in the Giant dugout getting as close a look as they can, draped over the railing. Eric Campbell is the lone Met in a similar posture on the first base side.
Many in this crowd, if not most of them, now on their feet.
One and one to Tejada.
Heston sets, now the pitch, breaking ball in the dirt, two and one.
FIVE to nothing, Giants. They scored a first-inning run. Noah Syndergaard went six, gave up ten hits and four runs. But the pitching line of the night belongs to Chris Heston. Turned twenty seven years of age two months ago. From PALM Bay, Florida.
Two and one to Tejada…here’s the pitch…fastball on the OUTSIDE CORNER, two and two, and now Heston a STRIKE away.
The LAST time the Mets were no-hit and SHUT out — a no-hit, no-run game — was by the GIANTS, Ed Halicki in San Francisco, in 1975.
Here, Heston with a two-and-two count to Tejada…comes set, Recker leads from second…here’s the pitch…
FASTBALL IN THERE, STRIKE THREE CALLED, HE’S DONE IT!
CHRIS HESTON has NO-HIT the New York Mets!
And the Giants come out of the dugout to mob their twenty-seven year-old righthander.
The Mets have been no-hit for the first time since Nineteen Ninety-THREE, when Darryl Kile of the Houston Astros did it, but the Mets scored a run in THAT game. It’s the first time in nearly forty years, since AUGUST of 1975, that a pitcher has pitched a no-hit, no-run game against the New York Mets, Chris Heston with an eleven-strikeout gem.
He did not WALK a batter, he hit three, and slowly Bruce Bochy and the coaching staff emerge from the Giant dugout. The pitchers in the Giants bullpen are taking a slow walk in, as one by one the Giants players hug Chris HESTON, who has pitched a NO-HITTER.
The San Francisco Giants have defeated the New York Mets, five to nothing, but it’s the SEVENTEENTH no-hit game in the history of the San Francisco Giants, who of course started their baseball life right here in New York as the New York Giants.
And now the paid crowd of twenty-three thousand one-hundred and fifty-five salute Heston with a standing ovation as he walks, perhaps in something of a daze, back towards the Giants dugout.
In the ninth inning, for New York, no runs…no hits…no errors, a hit batsman, one man left, Heston strikes out eleven and NO-HITS the Mets. The final score, the San Francisco Giants five and the New York Mets nothing. Back to talk about it in a moment on the WOR Mets radio network, driven by your TriHonda dealer.