(This is the third in a series of articles about Cincinnati Red pitchers to throw no-hitters. Twelve Red hurlers have thrown no-hitters, including Homer Bailey’s gem against the Pittsburgh Pirates last season. Bailey’s no-hitter was the first thrown since Mr. Perfect, Tom Browning, beat the Los Angeles Dodgers 1-0 in 1989, retiring all 27 hitters he faced.)
In a decade that featured such pitchers as Sandy Koufax, Juan Marichal, Bob Gibson and Don Drysdale, it was easy to overlook one like Jim Maloney.
Maloney was the ace of the Reds pitching staff from 1964-1969. His fastball was timed at nearly a hundred miles per hour. A righthanded power pitcher, Jim Maloney was in a Cincinnati uniform from 1961-1970. During the 1965 season, Maloney not only threw a 10-inning no-hitter against the Chicago Cubs but lost another no-hitter in the 11th inning against the New York Mets.
But on April 30, 1969, Maloney threw his easiest no-hitter, a 10-0 rout of the Houston Astros in front of a paltry crowd of 3,898 fans at Crosley Field.
The no-hitter against the Astros was in typical Maloney fashion. He struck out 13 hitters. He walked five. He threw a lot of pitches. And in a weird quirk of fate, Maloney faced one former Red and three future ones — Johnny Edwards was a former Reds catcher and other Astro players in the lineup eventually bound for Cincinnati were Joe Morgan, Denis Menke and Cesar Geronimo who struck out when used as a pinch hitter in the 6 th inning.
The Reds blew the game open and gave Maloney some breathing room in the 4 th inning. Cincinnati scored seven runs, an offensive outburst which featured a two-run single by Darrel Chaney and a bases loaded triple by Bobby Tolan, who collected three hits (two of them triples) and drove in four runs that night.
It was also the only no-hitter caught by Johnny Bench in the majors, who helped Maloney out when he picked Jimmy Wynn off first base to end the fourth inning.
Maloney struck out the side in the third inning and finished the game by striking out Doug Rader. Unfortunately for the Reds, Astros hurler Don Wilson threw another no-hitter against Cincinnati the very next night.
Maloney’s no-hitter improved his record that season to 3-0. He had arm problems later in 1969 which hurt the Reds chances of winning the brand-new National League Western Division. Cincinnati finished with an 89-73 record, four games behind the Atlanta Braves who had a hot September to secure the division crown. Maloney finished with a 12-5 record. Jim Merritt, acquired by the Twins in a trade for Leo Cardenas, finished with a 17-9 record for the season and Tony Cloninger struggled and finished 11-17. The Reds pitching staff labored most of the season which ultimately cost Manager Dave Bristol his job and led to the hiring of Sparky Anderson.
In a sad twist of fate, Maloney never enjoyed the Reds 1970 run to the National League pennant. He ruptured an Achilles tendon running out a ground ball and missed most of the season. His spot on the roster was taken by young righthander Milt Wilcox for post season play. He eventually went to pitch for the California Angels for just one season and then retired.
Jim Maloney is now in the Cincinnati Reds Hall of Fame and is rightly regarded as one of their best all time power pitchers.
Steve grew up in Cincinnati as a die-hard fan of Sparky’s Big Red Machine. After 25 years living outside of Ohio, mostly in Ann Arbor, he returned to the Queen City in 2004. He has resumed a first-person love affair with the Cincinnati Reds and is a season ticket holder at Great American Ball Park. The only place to find Steve’s thoughts of more than 140 characters is Redleg Nation. Follow his tweets @spmancuso.