John Means’ recent no-hitter for the Baltimore Orioles is a great accomplishment, no doubt. It’s not something I’d usually reference or write about on this site, but in this case, Means’ wonderful accomplishment led to an even more fascinating revelation. Puerto Rican baseball historian Jorge Colón Delgado unleashed the gem below,
There’s not much to this story beyond the tweet itself, but it still fascinates me. Jim Palmer threw two no-hitters, one in Major League Baseball’s American League and the other in Liga de Béisbol Profesional de Puerto Rico. Everyone knows about the former, only diehard baseball fans know about the latter. That Palmer threw two no-hitters, one in 1968 for Cangrejeros de Santurce and one in 1969 for the Orioles is amazing all by itself. That’s one pitcher throwing two no-hitters in back-to-back seasons for two leagues that were in no way affiliated with one another.
The true meat of Delgado’s tweet, the real fascination doesn’t come from Palmer, but rather from Elrod Hendricks. Born in the U.S. Virgin Islands, Hendricks spent his best years with the Orioles. For that reason, Baltimore fans have a soft spot for Hendricks in their hearts. At the same time, Hendricks is remembered just as fondly by Santurce fans as he spent 16 summers with the team in Puerto Rico.
Based on my research, there is one very important reason that you should remember Hendricks right alongside his Hall of Fame battery mate. Hendricks caught Palmer in both no-hitters. Sure, if you read Delgado’s tweet you already know that, but, and hear me out here, I don’t care, it’s cool as hell and you need to hear about it again. Elrod Hendricks was the catcher for Palmer’s no-hitter with Santurce and then again for his no-hitter with Baltimore. Nowhere else in the history of baseball was I able to find a pitcher who threw no-hitters in two entirely different leagues with the same catcher behind the plate both times.
Baseball is such a fascinating game because of little tidbits like this. Jim Palmer and Elrod Hendricks connected to be battery mates in two different no-hitters in back-to-back years in completely different leagues! When I say I love baseball it’s because of little stories like this. Even if they don’t get as much publicity as the affiliated world, the unaffiliated baseball landscape is full of so many great stories like Palmer and Hendricks.
Lead photo courtesy of Unknown – Béisbol 101