There were many, many great moments in the first no-hitter of 2003 -- by Kevin Millwood, Sunday against the Giants. Here are just a few of our favorites:
The Phillies hadn't drawn 40,000 people to any April home game (other than Opening Day) since 1994. We'd like to say it was an amazing coincidence that they drew 40,016 for this one. But it wasn't. Most of those folks were drawn by the Phillie Phanatic's final birthday party at his birthplace, Veterans Stadium.
So afterward, manager Larry Bowa said: "I'd like to apologize to the Phanatic for upstaging his birthday."
But Millwood appeared to have no regrets: "'I don't feel bad," he said. "He's had more birthday parties than I've had no-hitters."
As this game wore on, it began occurring to the other eight Phillies that they might have to make a big, final-out play to preserve this masterpiece.
During the only other no-hitter by a Phillie in Philadelphia since 1898 -- by Terry (I Forgot to Change My Name to Kevin) Mulholland's no-hitter, also against the Giants, on Aug. 15, 1990 -- first baseman John Kruk admitted he was so terrified, he started thinking about that old Tommy Lasorda joke about Pedro Guerrero. That was the one in which, when asked what he was thinking out there, Guerrero said that "my first thought was, don't hit it to me. And my second thought was, don't hit it to (Steve) Sax."
"Well, my first and second thoughts," Kruk said, "were, don't hit it to me."
But 13 years later, these Phillies didn't seem to share that trepidation.
"I had it all planned out," shortstop Jimmy Rollins told the Allentown Morning Call's Don Bostrom. "'I was going to do anything to make the play, including dislocating my shoulder or breaking my arm."
Out in the bullpen, as the game wore on, not a pitch was thrown. Finally, all that inactivity got to left-handed jokemeister Dan Plesac. So he approached bullpen coach Ramon Henderson.
"I told him, `Please tell them I've only thrown five pitches in the last week,' " Plesac told the Philadelphia Daily News' Paul Hagen. "`So can I have the ninth?"
The last three times the Giants have been no-hit, the pitcher has been named Kevin (Millwood, Brown, Gross). Amazingly, no other team has ever been no-hit by a pitcher named Kevin.
But that's not all. Giants assistant GM Ned Colletti can't help but remember that in the first game played at Pac Bell Park, which Dodger hit three home runs to beat the Giants? Who else? Kevin Elster.
And who started for the Angels' in the Giants' most painful postseason game since they hit the California state line? Kevin Appier. Of course. So this team clearly is not in Kevin Heaven.
"There are no Kevins in the Baseball Hall of Fame, right?" Colletti said. "The way we're going, we're bound to put two or three of them in there."
Finally nothing makes a six-hour flight to the West Coast zip along faster than a getaway-day no-hitter. But manager Larry Bowa seemed to have his doubts about whether Millwood even needed to board the charter.
"We're flying on a plane," Bowa said. "He's flying by himself."
The bad news for the Pirates' Craig Wilson last Wednesday was that he was 0-for-the season (0-for-14). The good news was, the Giants' Kirk Rueter was the opposing pitcher Wednesday. And Wilson was 5-for-5 against him lifetime, with three homers.
Sure enough. There went that slump. Wilson homered, doubled and walked off Rueter to run his career stats against him to 7-for-8, with 8 RBI. Then, once Rueter had gotten him rolling, Wilson got two more hits Friday.
"They say hits come in bunches," Wilson told the Beaver County Times' John Perrotto. "I hope my bunches are like bananas -- because I never saw a small gorilla."
Main Squeeze of the Month
It wasn't so much a squeeze bunt as it was a UFO.
But then, desperate times had arrived for the Brewers on April 19. It was the 14th inning. They'd used up every position player on the roster. They had the bases loaded. And they needed a pinch-hitter. So manager Ned Yost sent up a pitcher, Glendon Rusch.
On the second pitch, the runner on third, Eric Young, started sprinting to the plate. Rusch squared. And ...
The normal terminology here would be to say he "laid down" a bunt. But as Brewers third-base coach/humorist Rich Donnelly told Wild Pitches, this was almost the first squeeze bunt in history to be "in danger of being called for the infield-fly rule."
Rusch didn't just pop it up. He bunted it 130 feet -- on the fly. It cleared the mound. It cleared an entire Astros five-man infield. And when it dropped, it was just your basic game-winning 130-foot squeeze-bunt single.
"That was not a bunt," Donnelly reported. "That was a slap shot."
Boxscore Lines of the Month
It's hard to believe that since the last edition of Wild Pitches, five more pitchers have given up at least 10 runs in a game. And let's just say you've heard of them:
April 12, Pedro Martinez vs. the Orioles: 4 2/3 IP, 9 H, 10 R, 10 ER, 4 BB, 5 K, 1 seven-run inning (biggest off Pedro since July 1, 1994)
After watching his team score as many runs off the great Pedro as he once allowed in his first 12 starts of the 2000 season combined, Orioles manager Mike Hargrove said: "He's beaten up on us and everybody else for a long time. It's nice once in a while to get back at him. But we could beat him up for the next 10 years and he'd still be ahead of us. He's pretty good."
April 13, Roy Oswalt vs. the Cardinals: 6 2/3 IP, 9 H, 10 R, 5 ER, 3 BB, 8 K, 2 HR, 1 five-run lead down the tubes.
In his brief career, Oswalt has already had four months in which he didn't give up that many runs. In fact, he has had four months in which he didn't give up that many homers.
April 17, Jimmy Haynes vs. the Cubs: 4 2/3 IP, 10 H, 10 R, 10 ER, 6 BB, 2 K, 2 HR, 1 WP, 1 trip to the disabled list after the game (back trouble).
After becoming the first Red to lose his first four starts of the season since Joey Jay in 1963, Haynes reported: "I had no clue where the ball was going."
April 21, Rick Reed vs. the Yankees: 4 2/3 IP, 10 H, 11 R, 10 ER, 3 BB, 4 K, 2 HR, 1 happy man to see the Yankees leave town.
"I'm glad we're done with them," Reed said. "I think if you rolled the ball in there, they'd hit it in the gap."
April 25, Shane Reynolds vs. the Brewers: 3 1/3 IP, 10 H, 10 R, 10 ER, 2 BB, 3 K, 3 HR, 1 HBP, 63 pitches to get as many outs as runs (10).
"They didn't leave any on base tonight," said manager Bobby Cox, after watching Reynolds' 0.00 ERA disappear. "They cleaned the plate, the table, the garbage, everything."
Grand Slammer of the Month
It's a funny game, all right. Here's one more way we can tell:
Friday night in Texas, Yankees third baseman Robin Ventura chased a foul pop-up until he'd run out of field to chase it on.
So he hopped on top of the rolled-up tarp, staggered around for a second, grabbed his pop-up, then lurched into the seats. Call that one an out -- and a Web Gem.
"I don't practice that," Ventura told the New York Daily News' Anthony McCarron. "I'm not into log rolling."
Derek Jeter -- just short of 1,400 career hits, no grand slams.
Chase Utley after last Thursday -- one career hit, one grand slam.
After spending an hour the day before waiting at a gas station for a clubhouse guy to come pick him up so he could head for the big leagues, Utley turned the first hit of his big-league career into a very cool rarity.
The Phillies rookie became, according to the Elias Sports Bureau, just the fifth man in the last 35 years to hit a grand slam for his first hit.
And apparently, he was slightly excited -- because he launched into possibly the fastest home run trot in baseball history. It was tough to tell whether he thought he was running out a home run or running out the 400 meters in the Penn Relays.
"Man, that was fast," the winning pitcher that day, Randy Wolf, told Wild Pitches. "I'm surprised he didn't pass the other guys on base -- all three of them."
Batboy of the Month
It would be way too easy to give Kenny Mayne this award. But we're giving it instead to a 19-year-old journalism student at Temple named Andrew Deffley.
Last Wednesday, Deffley was serving as visiting batboy for the Rockies in Philadelphia. He retrieved a foul ball along the third-base line, then made a biggggg mistake. He faked a flip to the fans in the front row, then smiled and ran back to the dugout to throw the ball in the ball bag.
He may have thought those fans would have been too frostbitten to remember. But how wrong he was. After that, as the night wore on, every time Deffley ran out to grab a bat at home plate, he was booed -- louder and louder and louder. Until, by the seventh inning, you'd have thought J.D. Drew or Rich Kotite was retrieving those bats.
"I didn't know what was going on at first," Jimmy Rollins told Wild Pitches. "At first, I thought they were booing Preston Wilson. I said, `Man, they're booing him from the time he ran from first base all the way back to the dugout. That's pretty tough.' Then I looked up and saw the batboy. And I said, 'Oh.' "
But while he said, "Oh," some were saying, "Uh-oh," because who knew what ugliness this was leading to? But Phillies GM Ed Wade didn't want to find out. He called the dugout and told them to please give Andrew Deffley a couple of baseballs he could dole out as peace offerings before it was too late.
So next time Deffley emerged from the dugout, he took his barrage of boos. Then, as he approached the dugout steps, he suddenly yanked a ball out of his back pocket and flipped it into the crowd. Loud cheers followed, so next time out, he did it again. This time, Deffley actually took a big bow. It was a beautiful thing.
"For about maybe three innings," Deffley told the Rocky Mountain News' Jack Etkin, "I was ready to leave on the next plane back to Denver with these guys. But everything's fine now."
Sweet Swinger of the Month
There's nothing we love more than the sight of pitchers going deep. So here are two tales that have to be told.
You would think the longest home run ever hit by a Pirate in PNC Park would have been swatted by Brian Giles. Or maybe Kevin Young. Or possibly Aramis Ramirez. But would you believe ... eh ... Kip Wells?
In Tampa Bay, poor Lou Piniella has had lots of stuff to get frustrated about already. But we can add pitcher Victor Zambrano to the list.
Zambrano summed up his great-stuff, lousy-results season with an April 18 start in Baltimore. He pitched six innings. In one of them (the second), it took him 54 pitches to get three outs (thanks to eight runs, five hits and four walks). In the other five combined, it took him 59 pitches to get 15 outs (thanks to only one hit and one walk).
Asked afterward, by the St. Petersburg Times' Marc Topkin, how he could explain that, Piniella searched his brain for the proper TV character to convey the answer. Finally, he replied: "I'm going to play a Columbo with you guys: 'I don't understand it.' "
Friday night against the Dodgers' Odalis Perez, Wells hit a home run that didn't just clear the center-field fence. It cleared the empty spaces behind it and clanked off the batter's eye 50 feet beyond the fence. Estimated distance: 459 feet.
Asked by the Beaver County Times' John Perrotto to reveal his offensive secrets, Wells replied: "I swing hard every time up. If I hit the ball -- great. If not, I just hurt my back."
When 40-year-old Phillies left-hander Dan Plesac unretired last winter, the common theory was that he was playing one last season in an attempt to win. But we know what really happened. He came back to hit a home run.
Well, a batting-practice home run, anyhow.
In 18 pro seasons of taking BP, Plesac owned as many career BP homers as he owns actual career hits (one). He's about given up trying to get another actual hit. But his passion was to crash one more batting-practice longball before he hung up his bat (or whoever's it was he happened to be using) for good.
It had been seven years since Plesac hit his only previous BP homer -- off his old pitching coach, Ray Miller, at Three Rivers Stadium. Then, on April 15, at Veterans Stadium, a miracle happened. Swing. And a drive. And the Sac Man had done it again, this time off Phillies pitching coach Joe Kerrigan.
Naturally, pandemonium reigned. Plesac trotted round the bases. The dugout emptied. A triumphant swarm of humanity met him at home plate. What a moment. After running to the bullpen to retrieve the ball, Plesac pledged to give it to his daughters, Madeline and Natalie -- assuming the Hall of Fame doesn't want it.
"Years from now," Plesac told the South Jersey Courier Post's Kevin Roberts, "I'm going to take my daughters to the place where I've hit a home run -- and both stadiums will be blown up. They'll see a parking lot. I am demanding that they put a spot down in the parking lot, like where they'll mark where home plate was. I want them to mark where that ball landed."
Well, it might look kind of like a skid mark, or an oil leak, or graffiti. But we can promise Dan Plesac there will definitely be a mark -- if he can just wait a few decades.
Captain Calcium of the Month
A nearly disastrous thing almost happened to the Giants' storybook season last Wednesday in Pittsburgh. The NL RBI leader, J.T. Snow, got nailed in the arm by a Julian Tavarez fastball. And the way he crumpled, the Giants were worried he'd broken his arm.
Nope. Turned out he just had a bad bruise.
"It's a good thing I drank my milk as a kid," he told the San Francisco Chronicle's Henry Schulman. "My bones are strong."
Late-nighters of the Month
Only one good thing came of that bozo in Chicago who ran on the field and tackled ump Laz Diaz: He attracted the attention of the late-night comedy crew.
"Umpires make easy victims," said Jay Leno, "because you know their eyesight isn't good enough to pick anyone out in a lineup."
"This just in," said David Letterman. "Special ops forces have just rescued an American League umpire."
Headliner of the Month
And the brilliant online humor site, the Ironic Times, also (ahem) tackled the issue with this blockbuster headline:
"MORE FAN ATTACKS IN CHICAGO
White Sox consider dropping two-drink minimum."
Jayson Stark is a senior writer at ESPN.com.