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It was customary for Pittsburgh pitchers to offer a general game plan during the meeting, but on that afternoon Haddix began breaking down each hitter one by one. "He was just kind of having fun, saying he was going to go after Aaron this way and Mathews that way, " says Skinner. "Maybe it was because he was kind of loopy with his cold." As Haddix spoke, Hoak got up from his seat and ended the meeting by saying, "Harv, if you pitch those hitters like that, you'll throw a no-hitter." Everyone in the room laughed.
Haddix's pitching philosophy, like his upbringing, was simple. "I don't care about batters' weaknesses," he liked to say. "I throw the best I have each game, curve or fastball. Why complicate a simple game?" Haddix wasn't overpowering—"I doubt if his fastball ever topped 90 miles per hour," says Bob Smith, a Pirates reliever and Haddix's roommate on the road—and instead relied on guile and a smart mix of his four pitches. But against the Braves he would depend on just two: fastball and slider. With one out in the first inning Haddix went to a 3-and-2 count on Mathews before getting him to line out to first; it was his last three-ball count of the night. Haddix later said he first starting thinking about a no-hitter after the third inning. By the fourth, the Pittsburgh dugout was as quiet as a church when Haddix was on the mound. "We had a sense early what was going on," says shortstop Dick Groat. "When we were up, we yelled at our guys at the plate because it was so frustrating to watch them squander opportunities when it was clear Harvey had great stuff."
Three of the Pirates' top hitters happened to be out of the lineup that day: Groat, who would be the NL MVP in 1960, was mired in a slump and had been benched; rightfielder Roberto Clemente, then 24 and in his fifth season in the majors, was sidelined with a sore shoulder; and first baseman Dick Stuart, who would finish his second big league season as the team's leader in batting average and home runs, was given the day off. Facing Burdette, who was on his way to a league-leading 21 wins, the Pirates grounded into three double plays.
A reserve player on the Pittsburgh bench found a greenish-colored peanut in a can of Planters and began passing it around in the middle innings as a good luck charm. The peanut rested on the steps of the dugout when Skinner stepped to the plate in the top of the seventh with one out and no one on base. On a 1-and-0 count he whacked a pitch from Burdette high into the air. "When it came off the bat, I thought for sure it was gone," Skinner says. "I hit it well." Adcock at first base gazed at the majestic shot and said to no one in particular, "It's gone." In rightfield Aaron, with his back to the infield, slowed in his tracks, as if to give up on the ball. But suddenly he broke back toward the field and squared up when, as Bill Virdon, who played center for the Pirates that day, puts it, "a strong wind suddenly came in from rightfield, and hard." The ball dropped into Aaron's glove, a few feet from the fence. On the radio Bob Prince described the ball as having been "blown back by a tornado gale."
"By the time the inning was over, the wind was completely gone," says Virdon. "All I could think was, O.K., maybe it just isn't meant to be for Harvey to win this game."
Haddix, meanwhile, was cruising. Most remarkable was how little luck Hard Luck Harvey seemed to need. Only two balls were hit hard: a stinging shot by Johnny O'Brien that shortstop Dick Schofield fielded cleanly in the first and a line drive off the bat of Johnny Logan that Schofield had to jump for but easily caught in the third. "Usually you have one or two great or spectacular defensive plays in these no-hitters," says Mazeroski. "Not that night. It was the easiest game I ever played in."
Haddix's dominance becomes more remarkable when you realize that many of the Braves' hitters knew what pitches were coming. In 1989, when a number of players from both teams were present at a banquet in Pittsburgh commemorating the game's 30th anniversary, former Milwaukee pitcher Bob Buhl pulled Haddix aside. "You know we were stealing signs during the game?" he asked. Buhl told him that pitchers in the Braves' bullpen peered through binoculars to pick up the signs Burgess flashed to Haddix. One reliever then signaled the batter: towel on the shoulder meant fastball, no towel meant breaking ball. All but one Milwaukee hitter, Aaron, took the signals. "There were rumors that they might be stealing signs that series," says Smith, "but none of us knew they were doing it that night."
Not once did Haddix shake off his catcher; Burgess made just three visits to the mound. In fact Haddix barely uttered a word to anyone. There weren't even words exchanged between Haddix, a three-pack-a-day smoker, and Groat, who lit a cigarette for the pitcher in the dugout between every inning, a ritual that began after the second. "It got to the point where he'd just sit there with [a cigarette in his mouth] and wouldn't move until I came over and lit it," says Groat. "Then I'd just run away."
Meanwhile, after getting out of trouble in the early innings—he would allow 12 hits in the game—Burdette got stronger as the night wore on, retiring the Pirates in order in the sixth, seventh and eighth. After inducing Skinner to hit into a weak groundout with men on first and third in the top of the ninth, Burdette was fired up. Referring to Haddix, he barked at his teammates, "He's not going to beat me. Get a run or else we're going to be here all night!"
There had been six perfect games in the majors before that night, and there have been 11 since. The pitchers who have accomplished the feat are an odd assortment of Hall of Famers (Cy Young, Jim Bunning, Sandy Koufax), journeymen (Charlie Robertson, Len Barker) and above-average workhorses (David Wells, Dennis Martinez). No one other than Haddix, though, has taken a perfect game past the ninth inning. (Of the 13 no-hitters in the modern era that were carried into extra innings, only two lasted past the 10th and none past the 11th.) As the Braves and Pirates moved into extra frames, there were no signs that either starter was tiring. After Burdette allowed a single to Hoak in the top of the 10th, manager Fred Haney approached the mound to ask his pitcher if he'd had enough. "What for?" Burdette snapped. "I'm not tired." Though Haddix needed a total of only 12 pitches to retire the Braves in the 10th and 11th, the effort was beginning to take its toll on him. When Burgess visited the mound during the 10th to ask how he felt, Haddix replied, "Your horse is getting tired out here."