Phillies: Roy Halladay nearly no-hit Gabe Kapler as a rookie
By Matt Rappa
Roy Halladay nearly tossed a no-hitter in just his second MLB start against fellow rookie and eventual Phillies member, Gabe Kapler.
As magical as the 2010 Cy Young Award-winning season was for Philadelphia Phillies ace Roy Halladay — tossing a perfect game and just months later the second postseason no-hitter in Major League Baseball history — he nearly accomplished a similarly impressive feat 12 years prior, in what was just his second big-league start.
This start just happened to be a rare 163rd game of the 1998 season for the Toronto Blue Jays.
The American League East team promoted the 21-year-old Halladay, their 1995 first-round draft pick, for two late September starts. His debut resulted in a no-decision opposite the Tampa Bay Devil Rays; then came the September 27 season finale, home at the SkyDome in a Sunday matinee opposite the Detroit Tigers.
Starting in the game in right field and batting eighth was no other than eventual Phillies manager Gabe Kapler — who, like Halladay, was a rookie. It was just the seventh game of Kapler’s career, which, coincidentally, also began on September 20, 1998, as did Halladay’s.
It was a classic “prime Halladay” start for the rookie. Heading into the ninth, he retired 24 of his 25 batters faced, with the only one to reach via an error made by the second baseman.
Halladay began the ninth opposite Kapler, needing just three more outs to record a no-hitter in what was just his second Major League start. On two pitches, Doc got Kapler to line out to left field. Then, on five pitches, fellow eventual Phillie, catcher Paul Bako, grounded out.
One out away, on the very next pitch, Halladay yielded a home run to pinch-hitter Bobby Higginson, — who was coincidentally born in Philadelphia and drafted by the Phillies out of Temple University in the 1991 draft; however, he did not sign.
Doc needed only one pitch to get Frank Catalanotto to line out for the final out of the game, marking his first of 203 career wins, as well as the first of 67 career complete games. He struck out eight TIgers batters in the 2-1 victory, while walking none.
It is hard to believe Halladay was just one out shy of a no-hitter as a rookie, making just his second big-league appearance. You have to wonder if Halladay falling short of this no-hitter resulted in him to second-guess his pitching repertoire, which may have led to his struggles in the 1999 and 2000 seasons.
Nonetheless, the eventual Hall of Famer would go on to collect eight All-Star nods and two Cy Young Awards spanning a 16-season career.
We all remember Kapler being the right fielder for the Colorado Rockies when Chase Utley slugged his first career home run, a grand slam at Veterans Stadium in April 2003. As it turns out, the eventual Phillies skipper also was somewhat connected to organization history with this Halladay feat.