April 7, 1979: Forsch Pitches 6th Astros No-No

April 7, 1979: Ken Forsch No-Hits Braves, 6-0, in 2nd Game of Season! Larry Dierker arrives to offer congratulations with an inscription he wrote on his score card. ~ Houston Post Photo Courtesy of Houston Public Library

April 7, 1979: Ken Forsch No-Hits Braves, 6-0, in 2nd Game of Season!
Larry Dierker arrives to offer congratulations with an inscription he wrote on his score card.
~ Both Houston Post Photos Used Here Courtesy of The Houston Public Library

Back on April 7, 1979, Ken Forsch pitched a no-hitter in the Astrodome, shutting out the Atlanta Braves, 6-0, in the second game of the season, while striking out 3 and walking only 2. After the game, relatively new media man Larry Dierker caught up with Forsch for post-game congratulations and an interview. Cub reporter (not Cubs” reporter) Dierker seemed almost as pulled into the rosy afterglow of his former teammate’s accomplishment as Forsch himself. And why not? After all, it had been less than three years since Dierker, the former franchise pitching ace, had pitched the last Houston Astros no-hitter in the Astrodome in another early season period of local hopefulness. On 7/09/76, Larry had shut down the Montreal Expos, coincidentally or fatefully, (take your pick) by the same 6-0 epitaph that the club had put on the Canadians this early season evening in 1979.
The empathic course of the two men’s emotions on that post game night in 1979 is obvious from the two featured photos of the two file copies from the Houston Post made available to The Pecan Park Eagle for this article by archivist Joel Draut of the Houston Public Library downtown site.

Based upon the euphoric smiles of each man in both pictures, each also seems to be somewhat joyfully numbed by the magic of the moment. In fact, and in associative deference to Mr. Dierker’s up-to-date hairdo of that era, we are inspired to call this moment as we see it – and in satirical deference to a similarly entitled Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels movie from the later year of 1994 – we are respectfully inclined to re-baptize these photos for what they show, at least,  as we see them both through these ancient, but always searching-for-meaningfulness eyes.

How does “Numb and Number” sound? – Numbed by the shared jubilation of joy! – Even better, how does Larry Dierker’s explanation of his emotions in that moment fit the circumstances of what both he and Ken Forsch were going through at this golden moment in time and Astros history?

When I shared these photos with Larry Dierker prior to writing this column, he responded with the following brief comment about 1979, his rookie year as a broadcaster – and one that found him keeping score for the first time in his life during the second game of the season – and then having it turn out to be the first Astros no-hitter in the Astrodome since he last threw one himself, three seasons earlier:

“(1979 was) my first year to broadcast (road TV games only),” Dierker wrote.  “Second home game and I thought I would keep a scorecard for practice.  First time I even kept one.  After my no-no, Don Nottebart sent me a telegram that read, “feels good doesn’t it?”  I took my scorecard down to Kenny after the game with the same inscription.  It feels good just thinking about it.”

Thanks for contributing to this wonderful memory, Dierk! You and Ken Forsch each contributed many great memories to so many thousands of us Astros fans in those days. Please know too that both of you – and other people like Jimmy Wynn, Jose Cruz, J.R. Richard, and others too numerous to mention are the same guys who fused the “H” letter of Hope into the same H” letter that begins the name of our dear home town – a very long time ago.

And the “H” still stands for the blend of both!

Larry Dierker's written message on the scorecard (still (in his left hand in the joyful moment of this photo) he soon gave to Ken Forsch that night was short and sweet: "It feels good, doesn't it?"

Larry Dierker’s written message on the scorecard (still (in his left hand in the joyful moment of this photo) he soon gave to Ken Forsch that night was short and sweet: “It feels good, doesn’t it?”

For those who don’t know, there have been ten no-hitters involving Houston MLB pitchers. Amazingly, our record in these is only 9 wins against one loss. You see, we lost one of them, but that’s another story for another time. That tenth and most recent no hit Astros win against the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium is also another story, but also one with a short version explanation: The Astros used six pitchers in that game – and every one of them held the Yankees hitless over nine shared innings to take an 8-0 win that was credited to Brad Lidge, who worked the 6th and 7th. Here’s the list:

Houston Colt .45s/Astros No Hitters:

No. Date Name IP FOE Stadium K W HB RESULT
1 5/17/63 Don Nottebart 9.0 Phillies Colt 8 3 0 W, 4-1
2 4/23/64 Ken Johnson 9.0 Reds Colt 9 2 0 L, 0-1
3 6/18/67 Don Wilson 9.0 Braves Astrodome 15 3 0 W, 2-0
4 5/01/69 Don Wilson 9.0 Reds Crosley Field 13 6 1 W, 4-0
5 7/09/76 Larry Dierker 9.0 Expos Astrodome 8 4 0 W, 6-0
6 4/07/79 Ken Forsch 9.0 Braves Astrodome 3 2 0 W, 6-0
7 9/26/81 Nolan Ryan 9.0 Dodgers Astrodome 11 3 0 W, 5-0
8 9/25/86 Mike Scott 9.0 Giants Astrodome 13 2 1 W, 2-0
9 9/08/93 Darryl Kile 9.0 Mets Astrodome 9 1 0 W, 7-1
10 6/11/03 Roy Oswalt 1.0 Yankees Yankee Stad. 2 0 0
Pete Munro 2.2 2 3 1
Kirk Saarloos 1.1 1 0 0
Brad Lidge 2.0 2 0 0 W, 8-0
Octavio Dotel 1.0 4 0 0
Billy Wagner 1.0 2 0 0

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2 Responses to “April 7, 1979: Forsch Pitches 6th Astros No-No”

  1. Wayne Roberts Says:

    I think that one against the Yankees at old Yankee Stadium with 6 pitchers is my favorite,,,the Yankees were so po’d about that one.

  2. Mark W. Says:

    That was the first (and possibly still only) complete game no-hitter vs. the Yankees since Hoyt Wilhelm did it in 1958.

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