I still remember the moment. I stared at the 12″ monitor on a desk in the corner of a spare bedroom. The monitor was wider than it was high. The winter chill crept through the window next to me. On the monitor was Baseball for Windows, the computer version of the APBA card-and-dice game that I played as a kid. The software came with three seasons, complete with as-played season schedules, one of which was 1971. The card-and-dice seasons of my childhood never eclipsed a 40-game mark. An adolescent attention span. A new baseball season would grab my attention before I could complete reliving the previous season through dice. But now, now I know that a complete season replay is within my grasp through the power of a personal computer. With a single click of a mouse, the Oakland A’s began to play the Washington Senators at RFK Stadium. The first step of my journey through baseball history via replays. A journey that was soon reach the two decade mark.
That initial replay was definitely a work-in-progress in many ways. I began to dabble in HTML and to create an online record of the replay. I soon began visiting the local library and printing off box scores from the archived newspaper microfiche. I played most of the games myself, as I still do, but from time to time, I would auto-play the remaining games of a day so that I could move to the next game or series of interest to me. One and a half months into the replay (in replay time, not actual), the first no-hitter was recorded, and I missed it. In an auto-played game, Bill Butler of the Kansas City Royals no-hit those Oakland A’s. The only record remaining of the game is this line on the replay’s web site:
“But on May 15th, lefty Bill Butler in an emergency start grabbed the headlines by no-hitting the mighty Athletics 3-0.”
Bill Butler, not to be confused with the portly DH who would play for the same Royals a decade later, would always be remembered as my first no-hitter. Soon thereafter, Wilbur Wood no-hit the Angels. In July of the replayed 1971, the Cubs’ Milt Pappas would reach perfection at Dodger Stadium and I was there for each of the batters he retired. Regardless, Bill Butler was the first, memorable, maybe because the recollection was always followed by the thought “who the hell was Bill Butler?”.
It’s now a spring night. A school night. I’m in my office in the basement. The monitor is now a 42″ flat-screen television. The computer game is now Diamond Mind Baseball. It’s 1969 again for me, not 1971. Sleepily, I decide to auto play the remaining American League games for the day. The pennant races are all in the National League. Need to keep things moving along. Time to go to bed. The Mets have caught the Pirates in the NL East. And then, I see it. The Yankees’ line score: 0 0 1. Final score, 2-0 Royals. Ten innings. Oh, it’s a combined no-hitter, right? Wrong. There he is again. That familiar name.
Butler 10.0 0 0 0 1 10