Beyond Golf — 01 March 2018 by Jim Street
Bosio: From howling puppy to no-hitter

Former Mariners pitcher Chris Bosio turns back the clock to 1993

(As told to Jim Street)

Chris Bosio spent four of his 11 Major League seasons with the Mariners. He posted a 27-31 record with Seattle, going 9-9 with a 3.42 ERA in 1993 and won 10 games in ’95. He started 83 games during his career with the Mariners, including one against the Red Sox on April 22, 1993. This is his story of that game played at the Kingdome.

My third start of the season was in the series opener against the Red Sox. We had just returned from a road trip to Toronto and Detroit and when we were gone, my wife, Suzanne, and I adopted a dog by the name of Levi from the Seattle humane society.

She was a black lab rescued from a burned house. When I was gone, Levi slept upstairs with Suzanne. When I got home, we put the dog downstairs and she just wouldn’t shut up. She howled until we finally put her upstairs.

The next morning, I was pretty sick and was vomiting. I remember calling Rick Griffin, our trainer, that morning and telling that I had the flu and didn’t know if I could pitch. I told him it felt like I had the flu, not food poisoning. I always got to the park early and he told me to come in a little earlier than usual to see what he could do.

No-hit pitcher Chris Bosio

I got to the Kingdome about 2 o’clock and Rick gave me some stomach medicine that calmed me down a little bit. I tried to get as much rest as possible, but it was like 20 to 30 minutes at a time. I still didn’t feel all that good when it was time to start the pre-game meetings.

Sam Perlozzo, our third-base coach, always put the defensive chart in my locker on the day I pitched and he wanted to know where I wanted to place guys. We hadn’t played the Red Sox, who had Spring Training in Florida, but they were notorious for pulling the ball. I wanted (Mike) Blowers on the (third-base) line against right-handed batters, pull the shortstop over into the hole, move the second baseman closer to the middle and play Tino (first baseman Tino Martinez) off the line. I wanted to do just the opposite against left-handed hitters.

When Sammy saw the defensive chart, he said, “Are you serious? You want these guys playing on the lines?’ I told him I was serious. It seemed like all the guys up and down the lineup were pull-pull guys and with the sinker I threw, they would hit a lot of grounders. Sammy said, ‘All right.”

I usually threw 40-to-45 pitches in the bullpen before my starts. I got to 24, stopped, took the ball, tossed it into the stands and walked off the (bullpen) mound. I was done. I felt awful.  I told Sammy Ellis, our pitching coach, that I was going to get sick. I went into the tunnel behind the dugout and vomited.

I went into the clubhouse for a few minutes and came back out after the starting lineups were announced and the National Anthem had been played.

After I walked the first two batters, Sammy (Ellis) waddles to the mound and says, ‘What’s going on?’ I told him, ‘You’re the pitching coach, why don’t you tell me?’ He said, ‘If that’s the case, they are going to be swinging here so let’s get a ground ball.’

Sure enough, Greenie (Mike Greenwell) hit a two-hopper to Boonie and we turn a double play. Andre Dawson came up and I punched him out on three cutters to end the inning. From that point on, I didn’t recall a lot about the game until the seventh inning.

When we came off the field after I struck out (Ivan) Calderon in the seventh, Jay Buhner was sitting next to me and asked how was I doing? I looked over his shaved bald head and saw the scoreboard. I had a no-hitter going.

The closest I came to losing it was probably in the fifth when I threw a ‘dead-fish’ sinker to Mo Vaughn. He hit a ball to first base, but the ball hit the seam between the turf and dirt, took a weird hop, and bounced off Tino’s right hip. Boonie, who was pulled over towards first, came over, barehanded the ball, and threw it to me at the base. If Boonie had been playing straight up, he might not have been able to make that play.

We got to the eighth inning and the fans were really into it. Vaughn was up first and he flied out to Junior; Calderon grounded out to Blowers and after falling behind Cecil Cooper 3-and-1, I came back and struck him out on a backdoor breaking ball. The crowd (13,604) erupted and it gave me an amazing adrenaline rush.

I remember sitting on the bench and something that Lou Piniella had said came to mind. This was his first year and he said we were going to build something special here, something people will remember and eventually win a World Series. I thought this would be the night it started.

The adrenaline was flowing freely when I went to the mound for the ninth. The crowd was on its feet and Dave Valle and I were thinking along the same lines – be aggressive against these guys. Blowers hugged the line at third against (John) Valentine, who hit a ball to Omar (shortstop Omar Vizquel). Pena hit a grounder to Blowers and now it was down to one out – against Ernie Riles, my former teammate with the Brewers.

I rarely looked at their face when the batter stepped in the box, but I looked at Ernie. I mouthed ‘I got you’. He was a good low-ball hitter and I threw him a little fastball away for a ball. I thought it was a good time for the ‘dead fish’. I saw him go after it and hit into the ground. The ball bounced high over my head and I couldn’t reach it. I turned around and saw Omar coming across the field, hat flying off his head. He barehanded the ball. . .it was unbelievable.

People asked me later if I was surprised he fielded it with his bare hand and I wasn’t surprised at all. We had seen him do that all spring. He has big, strong hands for a little guy. He always made that play look easy.

Afterwards, so many things came to my mind. It had been a tough year. Our house in Sacramento was broken into twice during Spring Training. My grandfather, a huge baseball fan, had died that spring. Just a lot of things came to mind.

I threw two no-hitters in high school, against the same team back-to-back, but nothing ever like this. But the thing that was the most special was the way the team and fans celebrated afterwards. I remember grabbing one of the four beers Jay gave me and toasting the team in the clubhouse. I told them it was a team no-hitter.

I wanted the lineup card, but it had vanished. I put out an all-points bulletin for it. A few days later, the Mariners had an on-the-field ceremony and gave me a plaque and trophy. Rick (Griffin) gave me the lineup card. It has been signed and framed by all the players, manager and coaching staff.

A week after the no-hitter, a big box was delivered to our house in Issaquah. I had mentioned the ‘dead fish’ pitch during the press conference, and there was a huge picture of Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig fishing. On the back, there was a note that said, ‘One dead fish deserves another,’ and was signed by Chris Larson. I have thanked him every time I’ve seen him since.

(Jim Street covered the Mariners for the Seattle Post-Intelligencer from 1986-98 and MLB.com from 2001-10. This story previously appeared in Mariners Magazine.)

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Jim Street

Jim’s 40-year sportswriting career started with the San Jose Mercury-News in 1970 and ended on a full-time basis on October 31, 2010 following a 10-year stint with MLB.com. He grew up in Dorris, Calif., several long drives from the nearest golf course. His first tee shot was a week before being inducted into the Army in 1968. Upon his return from Vietnam, where he was a war correspondent for the 9th Infantry Division, Jim took up golf semi-seriously while working for the Mercury-News and covered numerous tournaments, including the U.S. Open in 1982, when Tom Watson made the shot of his life on the 17th hole at Pebble Beach. Jim also covered several Bing Crosby Pro-Am tournaments, the women’s U.S. Open, and other golfing events in the San Francisco area. He has a 17-handicap, never had a hole-in-one, although once he came within two inches of an ace, and witnessed the first round Ken Griffey Jr. ever played – at Arizona State during Spring Training in 1990. Pebble Beach Golf Links, the Kapalua Plantation Course, Pinehurst No. 2, Spyglass Hill, Winged Foot, Torrey Pines, Medinah, Chambers Bay, North Berwick in Scotland, and Princeville are among the courses he has had the pleasure of playing. Hitting the ball down the middle of the fairway is not a strong part of Jim’s game, but he is known (in his own mind) as the best putter not on tour. Most of Jim’s writing career was spent covering Major League baseball, a tenure that started with the Oakland Athletics, who won 101 games in 1971, and ended with the Seattle Mariners, who lost 101 games in 2010. Symmetry is a wonderful thing. He currently lives in Seattle and vacations in Arizona (and other warm climates) as much as possible.

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