Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

A No-Hitter with a Little Extra July 12, 1997: Pirates Players Provided the Best Thrills on Fireworks Night

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

A No-Hitter with a Little Extra July 12, 1997: Pirates Players Provided the Best Thrills on Fireworks Night

Article excerpt

A crowd of 44,119 filled Three Rivers Stadium July 12, 1997, not only to watch the second-place Pirates take on the first-place Houston Astros and the pitching of Francisco Cordova, an ascendant right-hander l in the majors for less than a year.

The fans came that Saturday night, largely, to watch postgame fireworks.

The first non-opening day capacity crowd since 1977 would get its wish. First, however, there was nine innings of no-hit wonder from Cordova, a steely decision from manager Gene Lamont, one inning of resolve from Ricardo Rincon and a no-doubt three-run homer from Mark Smith.

Then, elation.

Wednesday marks 20 years since the Pirates' most recent no-hitter unfolded, in a manner impossible to foresee and, for those at Three Rivers Stadium, impossible to forget.

The fact it came in front of full house is particularly memorable to Lamont.

"It's not like that often," Lamont said Monday, noting the draw the fireworks provided.

Indeed, the following day, also a win against Houston, had nearly 20,000 fewer fans. Two nights later, only 12,794 were in the seats.

In a thrilling season where the "Freak Show" Pirates were supposed to be afterthoughts yet found themselves flirting with the division title, the Cordova-Rincon no-hitter rests near the front of memory banks.

"It was electric that night," Lamont said. "I think if you ask a lot of guys on that team what they remember, they'd say that night."

If you ask Pete Vuckovich, the Pirates pitching coach at the time, he would say he thought after Cordova's pregame bullpen session that the 25-year-old Mexico native might not make it out of the first or second inning. That's how shaky Cordova, who entered and left with a 6-5 record, was warming up.

"It just goes to show you," Vuckovich said, "all you're doing down in the bullpen is getting loose and getting ready to go."

By first pitch, Cordova was. He had five strikeouts the first time through the order and finished with 10. He was so dominant only four balls left the infield.

The Pirates offense struggled to provide run support. Lamont said he remembers thinking, "We can't let this thing get away. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.